Posted in Fragile Life, Insight, New Mother

My Homebirth–at the hospital

Beardsley (

I never dreamed of a homebirth, never even imagined it or knew it was something that people chose to do. I had been brought up in a medical family–with three generations of allopathic physicians, and I assumed births took place as they should–in the hospital. This is where my mother gave birth to each of her nine children, and where she enjoyed the few days break from keeping house and caring for a newborn (not to mention siblings.)

By the time I got around to wanting a child, I was the same age my mother was as a parent of four. Having grown up in this large family, “blessed” as the eldest, I was in no rush to become a parent. I had my share of diaper changing and late night feedings by age of fourteen, and I had few illusions about the institution of motherhood; and loads of skepticism; that is until I was denied entry into this vocation.

Up until that time, I had viewed motherhood as some necessary evil, some hurdle I had to cross in order to pass into proper adulthood. Thus, I took it for granted that motherhood would be there waiting in the wings, whenever I was ready to succumb.

I was somewhere in my mid-twenties, unmarried, when it hit me. BABY HUNGER. All of the sudden, I HAD to have a baby. It didn’t matter that we were still renting and that my boyfriend had just gone back to school. The urge came on so strong and so unreasonably that I had to restrain myself from thoughts of swiping one.

As the primary breadwinner, it was completely impractical for me to get pregnant until my partner had his degree so instead I read everything I could on pregnancy and motherhood and being READY.

During that time we planned a wedding and fantasized about relocating to the mountains and living in a log home.

At 28, I couldn’t wait any longer so I convinced my husband to “start trying” before he graduated–since babies took nine months to be born anyway.

A year later, we still weren’t pregnant–and when we finally did conceive, I miscarried at the end of the first trimester. I hadn’t known that that was a possibility either.

Suddenly plans and jobs and certainty made less sense to me. We left our home at the shore and moved to the mountains of Vermont where we conceived–right away–only to miscarry again at 6 weeks.

When we were emotionally prepared to try a third time, we knew we needed something different–and that’s how we found Mary. Mary was a Naturopathic physician and a midwife–but mostly she was smart and caring and attentive.

Although she only attended homebirths, Mary agreed to work with us into the second trimester when she would turn us safely over to an MD. By that time however, we had fallen in love with her–and couldn’t imagine anyone else delivering our long-awaited baby–even if that meant we had to have a homebirth.

This third pregnancy was just as tricky as the previous ones–with a month of bleeding in the first trimester, early contractions in the second, and a challenging delivery in the third.

My son’s labor began at home on a rainy Tuesday morning–two weeks earlier than expected. It started with a sharp kick and the breaking of waters, followed by minute-long contractions, five-minutes apart. By the time the midwife arrived, I had already dilated 8 centimeters.

It was then that Mary discovered that the baby was breech–so she made arrangements for us to be transported over the mountain to the nearest hospital.

When I was rolled into the Emergency Room, the staff couldn’t believe that I was in labor–let alone in transition. With Mary at my side, I was calm and present and clear despite the mounting anxiety.

After some negotiations, they permitted Mary and my husband to accompany me into the operating room where my exquisitely planned homebirth was transformed into an emergency c-section.

The doctor on call had to yank my son out of the birth canal–along with all of my preconceived notions about how motherhood and I would become one.

Posted in New Mother


looking back~this poem celebrates that precious time between father and mother before the child is born

Jardine/detail (

we lie in bed side by side
clasping hands
awaiting your arrival

if we are quiet
and still
and if we are patient
you will rise to the surface
of these warm waters
like some
giant sea serpent
the shore of my belly

we gasp in wonderous delight
as you somersault
in the waves of amniotic fluid
parading first a foot
then an elbow

kneeling reverently at this water’s edge
our souls overflow
with an awareness too huge to fathom

by the tides of our breath
to the great leviathan
inside my womb

kelly salasin, 1995

Posted in New Mother

Letter to a Newborn

by Kelly Salasin

(from my journal, September 1995)

“An angel sleeps upon my breast and dreams in my arms.”

My first thought when they showed me your face was, “He looks familiar,” and I knew you were mine.

I’m finally holding the hand of my child, touching his feet, watching his eyes discover the world, his fingers discover my breast!

People say to sleep while you sleep, but I can’t stop looking at you.  With all of  your dreams crossing your face–in squeaks and smiles and frowns, I’m afraid I’ll miss something.

We are lovers, spending every hour together–sleeping, eating, showering, smiling, crying–inseparable. We are everything to the other.

Sometimes I’d give anything to step back in time to the moment where you are placed into my arms–and stay there with you forever–like lovers who jump into the fires of hell rather than be separated.

I have always felt our separation.  Loving you is filled with the pain and joy of it.  Motherhood must be a series of goodbyes, each one letting go to another piece of our togetherness.

If I love you too much, will I ever be able to say goodbye?

How is it that we are lovers, but only for such a short time? (a metaphor for all human relationships and time.) Motherhood is such a sacrifice and such a lesson in life–full of its deepest joys and greatest losses, reminding us that living is a blessing.  What a gift you are!

I pray that you will always know my love and I yours, that our life together will not be filled with regret.

But I guess parenthood will be another lesson in love–realizing that although we have been bound in the most holy of ways–through flesh and blood and milk from my breast–we will some day be ripped apart, just as you were from me at birth; and my job, will be

to let you


(Oh God!  What did I get myself into to!)