My Baby Had a Baby

The last four days have been pretty incredible. My baby had a baby! This child I never knew I needed had a child of her own.

Yes! My baby had a baby.

self portrait by Mary

Mary & D.J. opted for a home birth. It took me a while to get my brain wrapped around that. A home birth. Their child, created of their love, given them by God Almighty, entered the world in a tub of soothing, warm water set up in the dining area of their tiny, 1920s era, urban apartment. She would exit the womb that had nurtured and protected her for almost 10 months into the eager and waiting arms of her Mama and Papa who will continue to nurture and protect her, forever.

No monitors, no I.V.’s, no interventions that are common to giving birth in the realm of modern medicine, unless they chose to have them. Unless there was a need for those options. This was their well-informed, educated, fully-researched decision. And it was the perfect choice for them, for this birth, of this child.
There were emergency options available “in case”, but visible supplies were simple and basic. Uncomplicated.

Calming lavender essential oil was diffused, Mary’s favorite music playing softly in the background and the familiar street noises wafting in from the Windows.


Mary’s common mantra was, “birth without fear”. It was the message reverberating in the affirmations gracing the wall above her birthing tub. A ready reminder that this is a natural process and the process itself is not something a woman needs to fear. Her body is created to do this.

Her prenatal care was excellent, all ultrasounds confirmed that Nora was healthy and ready. Every exam was positive. Mary approached her day with amazing courage and strength. “Birth without fear”.

Yet, that is exactly what this wrought in me every time I thought about the “what ifs”. Fear. Anxiety. Doubt. But I chose to be a part of their cheering team. I wanted to be brave and break out of my very controlled, project management, color within all the lines, mindset. I desired to learn to trust. To trust nature, to trust God, to trust my daughter & son-in-love’s choices, to trust myself to embrace all of these factors and to enjoy being their support every step of the way. Because, my baby was having a baby.

I was blessed to capture this amazing event, most of the 14 hours, in pictures. Beginning to beginning, because after Nora was born, was not the end, rather the genesis of their new definition of family. Salas, party of three.

This blog as a whole, is about things in life from this Gramma’s view from the perch. I flew down from my perch on Wednesday, July 20, 2016, and landed right at the center of life in the raw. The reality of giving life and breath to a little human in the most natural way possible. And my view was beautiful, breathtaking, overwhelming, inspiring, exciting, heart wrenching, emotional, brilliant, spiritual, life changing, and so much more.

Birth, regardless of location is not glamorous. It’s beautiful, but it is NOT glamorous. There is physical pain, hard physical work, grossness, ickiness, messiness, bloody stuff, and waiting, so much waiting. Nora had kept her family waiting for ten days beyond what all of the health care teams had estimated her due date to be. And then for another 14 hours we waited while Nora slowly got herself in the best position she could, while Mary’s body did what Mamas bodies do best: release their baby into the world.
Nora’s was a compound presentation. This means there was more than just her head in the birth position. Her hand was also up beside her face, pushing her head slightly to the side, making it challenging for her to exit the birth canal smoothly. This is likely the reason Mary had so many intense pre-labor contractions for almost a week and a half before her water broke. It is the body’s way of trying to push the extra appendage out of the way. This made her labor hard, intense, exhausting!

And my baby was a beast, working with her body, victoriously delivering her daughter in the way she and her husband had chosen together, completely naturally, in spite of the challenges. At any time she could have said, “let’s go” and she would have had full support if she believed she was truly unable to continue without medication or other intervention. D.J.’s total and complete commitment to his wife and daughter’s best interest, safety, comfort and well-being was unmistakable.  His love and devotion is branded all over them and I am blessed.

Mary’s midwife team was amazing. They were all in for the duration and then some. When I was introduced to each of them on arrival, a hug was the greeting. We were all a team, committed to assisting Mary bring her precious child into the world. These ladies are family now, having shared in one of the most intimately precious events, in the life of my baby child. I will forever be grateful to Pauline & Mary of Abiding Grace Midwifery. Their gentle, supportive demeanor, coupled with their extensive knowledge and experience set the tone for this special delivery. To say nothing of their strong faith guiding them through the process, supporting my Mary with encouraging words, her own affirmations and prayer. “Thank you” seems inadequate.

Mary experienced a fairly severe tear. Nora’s size, presentation, and one quick jump up in the water by Mary when a particularly painful contraction peaked at one point, left her with some repair needed. They went to their chosen provider and obtained the further care necessary. Pauline was with them every step of the way, advocating and sharing details to be sure the team at the hospital had all he information necessary for the very best outcome. Mary said she was delighted to wake up from the surgery to see Pauline’s encouraging eyes right there beside D.J.’s. And then on her birthday mind you, the third day of Nora’s life, Pauline visited their home again herself, for day three Nora check and to bring beautiful gifts. Yes, thank you is hardly adequate.

I am full. I am changed. I am more brave and confident today than I was four days ago. How can I not be? Mary defined courage, tenacity and resolve for me. D.J. exhibited love and devotion so deep it was palpable. Nora brought another piece of puzzle into this thing called my life, one more step in completing the puzzle of me.

Natural birth whether at home, a birthing center, hospital or any other location may not be for everyone. Bringing a life into this world is admirable and to be celebrated, regardless of the method chosen. I am simply grateful I was afforded this gift, this experience to share with my daughter and son-in-love.
And I am so very blessed to add Nora Jane Salas to our family as grandchild number 11.

“Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers.” Proverbs 17:6 ESV

Welcome to the world, Nora Jane Salas!  Gramma loves you!

Born July 20, 2016 ~ 5:13 p.m ~ 9.5 lbs. ~ 21 3/4 inches! Beautiful Blessing from Above


A Step Back to Domesticity

I ran across this entry from a former blog I had. It was written December, 2011. It brought me some smiles. I hope you enjoy it also.

A Step Back to Domesticity

I mended a set of sheets today, much to the amazement of my family. When they realized what I was doing, one would have thought I had grown a second head. Blank stares. “Why don’t you just go buy a new set?” I was asked. Why indeed?

Truth be told, I did purchase a new set a few days ago. I chose one of the less expensive establishments and still, for 300 thread count sheets I paid $39! Forty bucks for a set of sheets! I had automatically placed the old sheets in the laundry hamper when I removed them from the bed, thinking that whether I donated them to charity or used them for cleaning cloths or whatever, I would want them to be clean and fresh. 

As I removed that nice fresh smelling bundle out of the dryer, a thought struck me. Though there were a couple of “L” shaped tears, the sheets seemed to be saying “we still have use left in us!” I was taken back to my childhood when it was common for my mother and grandmother to mend clothes, linens, darn socks, replace buttons and do whatever was necessary to extend the life of whatever we had been blessed with.

My mother would lovingly launder our clothes and then take the time to hang it on a clothesline in our backyard. Those baskets of wet clothes were heavy! Then she would reach up and carefully clip a clothes pin over the edge of the sock or towel and wait for the fresh air to do the job of drying the clothes. Then back out she would trek to carefully remove the clothes and carry them into the house where she would fluff, fold and iron until everything was just so. Each fold, shake, smooth and pressing contained countless prayers for the owner.

My father was a welder & mechanic on heavy duty highway construction equipment. To deflect the sparks from welding, my mother would laboriously soak his work clothes in a mixture of water and liquid laundry starch, wring them out individually by hand and then iron them, by hand to a stiff, shiny, crisp uniform that he was proud to don. He knew he would be protected from spark burns and he always looked neat and nice at the beginning of each work day, with his grey work outfit and black engineer boots. 

So, why did I mend my sheets and what does my mother’s laundry routines have to do with it? I realized that for the last 20 years I have cheated my family out of living frugally. I have cheated myself out of the domestic routines that added so much value to my life as a child. Up till 6 months ago I have worked at jobs that were decently lucrative and my family has become caught up in the “disposable mentality” that our society espouses! “If the sheet tears, throw it away; if a button falls off, donate the shirt to charity; if the shoe is scuffed, get rid of it and just go buy a new item.” That mentality is no longer practical, with me being unemployed. We have to learn from the past.

My dad, as I mentioned, worked in construction. Looking back I now know that some years were great and some years were very lean. We had to make the most of every single thing we were provided. And my parents did it elegantly! Linens and clothes were mended, shoes were repaired, buttons were replaced, cars maintained and respected and our home was humble but safe, warm and sufficient. I knew that taking care of things showed our appreciation for that which we were blessed with. I didn’t really realize, as a youngster that it was also a way of stretching the meager income my parents supported us with. “Things” last a long time and you grow very fond of them when you painstakingly choose to care for them, repair them, maintain them through the years.

I didn’t stop at mending those sheets. The fragrance of fresh, clean cotton beckoned me. I got out my iron and ironing board, grabbed the Egyptian cotton linen spray, and I ironed the pillow cases just the way my precious mom used to do. I spritzed them lightly with the spray, and smoothed the case with the hot iron. I folded it in half and ironed it again. Once again, I brought the edges of the pillow case together in a fold leaving me with a long rectangle across the width of the pillow case. I pressed it once more, then took the right edge and folded it over then the left edge and laid it carefully over also, folding it into thirds. Smooth, crisp, fresh, clean, ironed pillow cases.

I can hardly wait to change the sheets again. The new, 300 thread count, overpriced sheets are on the bed right now. I’m looking forward to laying my cheek on my old, mended, freshly laundered and ironed sheets. They will take me back to my childhood when I lie down that night. To the day of the week my mother would do the laundry, carry it to the clothesline, hang them out to dry, bring them in and lovingly iron my sweetly embroidered pillow case and I’d climb into my bed and deeply breathe in that sweet, sweet smell of clean cotton, and of my mom. I’ll sleep well that night, just like I did so long ago.