Thursday, May 3, 2012

More Maconga

Macon was a very, very hot and humid town on the Ocmulgee River. In the summer the air would choke you, and it never cooled off at night. Days were longer than in Birmingham, and it stayed light until after 9. We tried to cool off in the Ocmulgee one day and found that it was like a hot tub. There was really no escape. Bill and I lived on the river for a few months and had a hellacious wedding party there. I found life at the river very lonely, however, since I was newly pregnant, had no car and was cut off from the party scene in Macon. I was also very nauseated and could not stop throwing up.

Bill liked to do weird stuff with food. He cooked a road kill raccoon one day when I was in the nausea state and was unable to get up and move around. Since he never cleaned anything up, the cooked and uneaten raccoon sat on the stove until maggots were swarming around in there. I could not even go near the kitchen, and had to beg one of my girlfriends to come over and clean up. I think I had to ask her several times, literally begging and promising to pay her if she would do it. She did, but I think that was the end of the friendship. She was kind of horrified. I should have been, but I was too sick to think about it.

Because I was so obviously miserable, Bill moved us back to town. There we lived in the most dilapidated house on the block but it was a palace to me. The neighborhood was just great. We were a block from the Big House where the Allman Brothers had lived, now a museum. There were lots of nice couples there, also with babies and young children. The school was right down the street. It was a perfect place to raise a family. Eventually Bill's brother and his wife also lived down the street.

I had come into contact with some Sufi women who were very educated regarding childbirth and early childhood education. One of the women, Rahima Baldwin, had just written a book which I loved. The other woman, Ann Frye, was a midwife. She was very professional, and I was invited to attend a couple of home births that she facilitated in Macon. Those experiences made a huge impression on me, and I started reading everything I could find about alternatives. Ann gave me some advice about how to prepare to have a healthy pregnancy and how to take care of myself. I followed her advice.

I made plans to have a home birth even though by then both Rahima and Ann had returned to parts unknown. I attended a Lamaze class and went to the Public Health Department for prenatal care. In spite of the bad start, I was actually very healthy and had a normal pregnancy. I went into labor right on time.

My friend Mary had birthed her second child at The Farm with Ina May Gaskin. She was a good childbirth coach and attendant, and was willing to help me at home. Another friend, who was somehow connected with or owned the natural foods store was also going to help me. I thought it would be like a party or celebration. I invited friends.

The day I finally went into labor we went out to the Jarrell Plantation and walked around to try to get things moving. It worked. I started having contractions on that Friday night and was still stuck at 9 centimeters by Sunday afternoon. The baby was ok, no problems with heart rate. I got very tired and dehydrated, so I decided to go to the hospital for an IV. I walked into the hospital, to the astonishment of the staff who pronounced me 91/2 centimeters dilated. The MD broke my water and I had a face-up, stubborn little girl named after her two great grandmothers. She was fine- sunny side up as they say, which accounted for the slowing in progress I had. I went on home from the hospital with that sweet little girl, and was the happiest I had ever been.

Unbelievably we were living without any air conditioning in that house. My daughter was born at the end of April, and by the end of May I could not tolerate another minute. I went to Sears and found a unit for $100.00- all I could afford- and stuck it in the window. I had to stuff towels under the door to keep the air inside cool. It was all that poor little unit could do to keep that one room halfway cool. So I managed to stay in there, keep the baby nursed and happy, and make it through that Maconga summer.

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