As usual, thanks to having been blessed with a husband who has summers off, we spent most of this summertime away, roaming the wilds of North America. We had an amazing time – as usual, but – as usual – I was sad to have to turn mothers due to birth in the summertime away. I do so love my job! There’s just nothing quite like standing with and serving families as the new lives within them burst upon the earth.
But this summertime, despite our meanderings off and away, I was granted the gift I hold so dear after all.
One balmy spring afternoon as I sat at our dining room table working feverishly to prepare my manuscript for submission, determined beyond determination to be finished before we were scheduled to launch into our summer ramblings, I noticed a pair of robins were working just as feverishly as I to create a nest within the shelter of our back porch eaves.
Hour after hour the pair fluttered to and fro, to and fro, weaving wispy blades of grass, slender twigs, some snippets and scraps of paper, and one fine curl of shiny ribbon into a crease of support beams and roof.
The nest sat unfilled then for a few days leaving Steven and I to wonder if something had gone wrong till we woke of a morning to find the mama robin had tucked herself neatly into it. We examined our calendar and guessed the babies ought to hatch out a week or so before we were slated to head north and east of Colorado.
All day, day in and day out, the patient mother sat in silence upon that nest while her mate hopped and flickered here and there but always nearby, seemingly ever to keep an eye on his love and their babies.
Most warm evenings she’d get out to stretch her legs and wings a bit.
And, after twenty-one days’ diligence, the eggs hatched!
From that point onward, the back porch was a flurry of wings and clamor of cheeping as mom and daddy worked with almost frenzied intensity to feed their little ones.
By the time we’d packed up the truck and trailer, we’d learned there were four insistent lives crammed into the tiny nest. We said good-bye and rolled away curious as to where the young would be and what they’d be up to when we got back, hoping we’d be home in time to watch them explode into the wide world.
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO The very evening we pulled again into our drive, there was last oOOOf the The very evening we pulled again into our drive, there was last of the four fledglings standing a-tremble beside his nest. Within moments he was on the ground and we thrilled to watch him flap awkwardly about the yard, examining his new surrounds and yammering continually to his parents.
His long-suffering folks were faithful to tend him as he ranged around and only once was there a problem. The speckled fellow got his foot snagged in a fold of our firewood holder on an attempt to reach the top.
Steve, catching the poor guy’s mishap from a camp seat beside the grill, hollered what happened and for me to come quick. I donned my kitchen gloves, dashed to the fire pit, released the baby’s wee claw from its wrought-iron trap while he screamed to raise the dead, then dashed back to cover as his indignant parents flashed and shrieked over my cringing shoulders, reprimanding me soundly for tampering with their innocent child.
Soon enough and most thankfully, everyone settled down, and Steven and I spent till nightfall enjoying the goings on.
The nest has sat vacant now for most of a moon, though it remains there in its crevice to warm us with memories. And this evening the melody of robins ripples and undulates in the air – the unmistakable song that’s signaled the dawning of each spring and that’s drawn every summer’s sun forth into day and spiraling back through dusk each night – washing over me and setting me thinking.
Standing quietly by while the robins bore and reared their young is exactly what I do with the humans I’m blessed to serve. Birth generally unfolds beautifully and without incident. Occasionally, my assistance is required, but only very occasionally and, when it is, it’s essential I keep in mind that my assistance possesses as much potential to hinder or harm as it does to help if I fail to proceed with care and consideration and compassion. I’m reminded that it’s best to step in just so much as I’m needed, then to step back out as quickly as I’m able.
After all, none of it’s about me.
It’s every bit about the priceless family.
Kim Woodard Osterholzer, Colorado Springs Homebirth Midwife
Photographs taken by Kim.
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Kim Woodard Osterholzer, Colorado Springs Homebirth Midwife and Author
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