When my then-husband and I decided to have a second child, we had three more years of lived experience under our respective belts. I had led the development of a co-op child care centre at the university I had been attending, had met feminists (and even some communists) and made my own yogurt and peanut butter. With a friend, I had recently opened a small café and live folk music venue.
What more could I need to enter into pregnancy and motherhood a second time? After all, even when I had not known what I was doing, things seemed to have gone fairly well.
It’s never easy
Perhaps because I was in denial the first time, I sailed through the first few months of that pregnancy with no difficulties. This time, it was a different story. Morning sickness was a daily reality for three months – not an easy thing to accommodate when my days began before dawn in the kitchen of my café getting the soups, bagels and crepes that were our specialty underway.
Maybe, I thought after a couple of months of traipsing up and down the stairs with heavy loads of food and dirty dishes, having the kitchen on the second floor and the restaurant on the first floor was not such a great idea after all. Maybe, in fact, standing at the stove/kitchen counter cooking for 12 hours a day was not exactly the best thing to be doing once I got to the eighth and ninth months of my pregnancy.
On the other hand, perhaps spending those in utero months listening to the likes of Jane Siberry (or, as she was then called, Jane Stewart), Stan and Garnet Rogers, David Essig and others gave my son his lifelong love of music. Maybe his exposure to kitchen culture shaped him into the cook and baker he became. Maybe trekking off to buy organic eggs at the farm gate led to his life as a farmer.
This time, a bassinet was ready and waiting and a dresser was filled with diapers, sleepers, towels and other necessities. I had even knitted a sweater and cap. Perhaps more importantly, I had found an obstetrician who would support the kind of childbirth I wanted to have: no drugs, no cutting, no shaving, no enema, no shot to dry up my milk.
On February 3, I had a sense that Jesse would be born soon, so handed Kate off to her grandparents, who were only too happy to have her for a few days, did some grocery shopping and chores around the house and packed my bag for the hospital.
That evening, I went into labour while we were watching a documentary movie on television about the Beach Boys. When I suggested it was time to go to the hospital, my husband said he thought we could watch the rest of the film first. I was not so sure, but did not demur. However, when we finally got into the car and he decided we needed to stop for gas on the way to the hospital, I became more vocal in my insistence that we move things along.
And a good thing it was that I did, because this was a baby who was ready to be born. There was no time to waste or be bored once we made it to the hospital, which was fine with me. In what seemed like minutes, Jesse was wrapped up and lying in my arms and, first thing the next morning, home we went.
Jesse came to the café with me most days, spending his time in a basket tucked out of the way in a corner of the kitchen or the restaurant proper, listening to folk music as he slept, while his four-year-old sister helped serve and clear tables (she made great tips!).
It was an exhausting time – as has been and remains my approach to life, I was definitely burning the candle at both ends and taking on more than any sane person would.
But, late in the evening, when the food service was done, the dishwasher was humming upstairs, the lights were dimmed, Kate was sleeping upstairs and Jesse was sleeping in my arms while we listened to Beverly Glenn Copeland or another folk musician, it was hard to imagine how a time could be any better.
It is hard to imagine that baby of 40 years ago now, when I watch my son with his sheep, goats, pigs, cows and poultry, but I like to think that somehow he got as much from that time in the cafe, before and after he was born, as I did.
Happy birthday, Jesse!