Back Home—Veronica, the Windi, and a Pair of Vaselined Babies

The theme of my posts these days seems to be “done is better than perfect!”

So, here’s another little snippet of my life for you taste. It’s not perfect, but it’s done, and I do hope you enjoy reading about it as much as I did living it!

Here we go!

We threw a party for my grandson’s first birthday toward the end of my time in Michigan, and it was a smashing success, filled with family and friends and topped literally with a completely smashed cupcake.

I enjoyed the slice of solitude clean-up duty provided me, thinking back to Brent’s dramatic entry into life only the year before—feet first, belly forward, arms flung overhead—as I scrubbed streaks of blue and yellow frosting from his highchair. I smiled, I shook my head, I dabbed at a tear, I thanked God.

Hours later and the household—the Woodards in their bedroom, Evangeline in the office, the Simmons in the basement, the Osterholzers on the sofas—was fast asleep.

Till Hannah’s telephone rang.

As ever and, I suppose, as ever will be, my heart leapt into my throat at the noise.

I sat up to listen.

A first-time Amishwoman from Centreville had begun with scattered contractions the evening before, and both Hannah and I had spent the day on alert and ready to go.

I laid back down.

Mama wasn’t ready for us to come, she’d only a question for Hannah.

Three or so hours later the phone rang again.

I sat up.

I laid down.

Another few hours passed and just as the nine of us managed to get fed, dressed, and into the cars for a day out and about together, that telephone rang yet again, our caravan eased to the shoulder, we did a bit of rearranging and bid the group adieu, we strapped ourselves into Hannah’s vehicle, we flew south.

Soon after we arrived, a wee baby girl slipped earth-side. She required a kiss from Hannah to get started breathing, then her mom needed some help to cease bleeding, but the next moment the excitement was resolved and I, as I had the evening before, I found myself cleaning and thinking, cleaning and thinking.

I changed under pads and swished the toilet, gathered up the soiled laundry and reminisced about the family I’d served within that very same house early on in my baby catching career.

I looked out the window while I sliced apples and spread peanut butter and remembered serving the family living in the tall house across the road through a handful of births.

I fetched a fresh glass of water and lugged a load of gear to Hannah’s car and recalled to mind the many families I’d served in the many houses lining the many roads of that idyllic county through a quarter century of life—a county of buggies and bonnets, barnyards and good, good friends.

I sighed.

And I smiled.

I love what we do—I do! Though I admit my initial response to the call to work while I’m in Michigan with my family is a disinclination to go. I love my family! I miss my family! I really want to be with them when at last I’m with them…

Still, in the rush to get going, I surrender to going and, as we arrive, I find I’m glad to arrive.

I smiled and I wiped down the countertops, scrubbed Hannah’s hemostats and scissors, and thought how even just turning onto the first dirt road on my first day back had filled me glad.

Then in we went, into home after well-known and well-loved home, to be greeted by well-known and well-loved faces, to fall into a well-known and well-loved way.

We visited first with Veronica—a woman I’ve served for thirteen years or more—a woman I’ve served through changes and trials as well as through childbearing—a woman who’s walked with me through much the same, minus, of course, the childbearing. We wound up sprawled across her bed, talking for far too long about the children we’d welcomed to life together amidst all manner of memorable moments—touching, thrilling, and funny.

We popped in next on Rosanna so Hannah could “Windi” her gassy baby and give her lips and tongue an examination while mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, and the three older kids belonging to the house crowded around Hannah’s knees and elbows with an almost gleeful curiosity. A ripple of giggles bubbled up as the baby began to toot and poop.

We received a message from Martha while we were sprawled out on Ruth Ann’s bed, again talking for far too long about the fullness of life we’ve experienced together.

Martha said that she’d heard I was in the area and wondered if we might stop over for a quick hello and to give her a copy of my book.

When we stopped over to Martha’s, her husband, Norman, came out to say she was over to her mother’s. Her folks were having church the upcoming Sunday, and all the women were there helping prepare.

We rumbled down the road and around the corner, eased into the driveway crammed with black buggies, and exited the car as a stream of youngsters and white-capped women rushed out to us from the house.

“It’s Kim! It’s Kim! Why, it’s Kim!”

In the midst of the group stood two mothers, each with a child in her arms–each with a child coated in Vaseline! From fingertips to shoelaces to the ends of their blonde, crisscrossed braids, the little girls were thoroughly greased.

“We had our backs turned for hardly a minute!” said Maggie.

“The tub’s empty, the sitting room window’s a sight, and their poor dresses will never come clean!” said Martha.

“Oh, Kim! Of all times for you to finally come!” said Grandma.

We all paused and looked at the slickened girls.

The girls looked back at us with wide, round eyes.

They blinked.

They smiled.

The entire bunch of us burst into laughter.

“Ahh!” Grandma said with tears seeping into the crinkles radiating from her eyes and lips. “This is the sort of time I just wish we could have pictures!”

We exclaimed and laughed together until the mothers turned to take their gooey girls into the house. At the door they stopped to call a last goodbye. One of the girls waved and the other blew us kisses, setting the yardful laughing again.

Ah! Such a wonderful summer! Two sweet spells in Michigan—too short, but long enough. I watched my grandson take his first steps, I watched my youngest granddaughter attempt to take hers. My oldest granddaughter filled my ears with her keen observations, and my arms and heart overflowed with all of them.

We experienced three births, one funeral, two miscarriages, and learned of many new pregnancies. We made new friends. We enjoyed regatherings of family and old friends. We ate birthday cakes adorned with sparklers, sipped cold beer beside crackling fires, took long walks, had ever so many nourishing talks, and I thanked my God every blessed moment.

Kim Woodard Osterholzer, Colorado Springs Homebirth Midwife and Author

Books by Kim:

Homebirth: Safe & Sacred

Homebirth: Commonly Asked Questions

A Midwife in Amish Country: Celebrating God’s Gift of Life

Nourish + Thrive: Happy, Healthy Childbearing

One Little Life at a Time: Recommendations + Record Keeping for Aspiring Homebirth Midwives

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