The neighbors. Oh, the neighbors. The ones who shared our building were the hardest part. He was on house arrest, she was angry at everyone, and their children had more language than I knew how to deal with – particularly when my daughters started repeating things. They vacuumed at 2 am, pounded on the wall when our alarm went off at 8 am, and left garbage everywhere in the yard. Showing them Christ was a stretch, when I really wanted to tell them something else entirely. I didn’t, but I failed to show them Christ all too often as well.
The man on the other side of us was Bob, a new widower who loved my kids and gave us vegetables from his garden. I wonder about him still.
Then there was the man down the block who watched us. Constantly. I still don’t know what to think about that. Locks are good.
Sterling was six months old when nursing hit a bump. It wasn’t going well. At all. Christmas in New Jersey had me there and Blaine there and gone again, back to work. My sister in law bought me a pregnancy test. I thought she was nuts. A few minutes later, I was crying, calling my husband, and telling him how horrible and awful our future was looking – words I would never use now to describe Ruby. Ruby, of course, charts her own course. My pregnancy was run of the mill normal. I was sick, then I was better, then I was huge, then I was huger. When I hit 39 weeks, I waited to have a baby. My brother in law came to watch the girls. Liberty and Eden were born at 39 weeks 5 days, Sterling at 39 weeks and 4 days, and surely Ruby would follow my pattern.
Then I hit my due date. That first Sunday after she was due, the neighbor Bob asked me if it was twins, and if I was due soon. The sight of me was painful, to be sure. He suggested I shouldn’t be headed to church.
The day before Ruby was born, at 40 weeks and 6 days, I had an appointment with my midwife. I suggested that Ruby might be breech – she just felt different. She thought not, but ordered an ultrasound.
Ruby was breech. Ruby was estimated to be 8 lbs. 15 oz. They scheduled a c-section.
The next day, Ruby was born behind first in an operating room while I lay strapped to a table. It was not my birth of choice. Afterward, as I healed from major abdominal surgery (during which they did not tuck in my baby belly, unfortunately) for many months, I felt like I was mourning the birth I’d imagined.