Here he is, the most amazing baby ever.

Wow, that was intense. And I'll write the whole story out for you soon, but for now, here is our son, Isaac Ayotunde Ford. He was born on January 27, at 2:37 in the afternoon, and he's 3.95 kilos, or 8 lbs 10 oz.

(Real name! I'll be bringing the names of the other kids out soon, so I figure I'll just let you know right from the start.)

Isaac means laughter, and Ayotunde means Joy has Returned. I think we'll call him Iz or Izzy for short.

It took 48 hours, it's true. It was a record breaker for my doctor-- she said she's never had it happen before. She told me all the women she's had as patients make the decision to get a c-section far before their labor gets to that point. But I'm stubborn. And she was willing to go along with that stubbornness. And there were a few moments of doubt, but we got through. Chinua is such an amazing birth companion and he told me again and again that he knew I could do it.

Ahh, the smell of him! The first two hours with my baby are the sweetest in the world. We looked at each other and discovered each other.

Then, a few hours later there was a little drama with a whole lot of bleeding. Apparently my uterus was very tired after 48 hours and couldn't shut the bleeding down. There were a lot of nurses and some painful interventions and I cried and shook and panicked as I felt blood gushing out of me, but now I'm okay.

I am anemic. Time to get on those green smoothies.

Of course we all try to figure out who he looks like. He looks like Leafy, but then there's some Kid A in there, and some YaYa, and something all his own. I can't believe we have another beautiful child.

I'm getting sprung today. My camera ran out of batteries, and in my plan to get to Chiang Mai, have the baby quickly and get right back home to Pai, I didn't bring the charger, so these are all mobile photos I took from Chinua's facebook account. But home is in sight! Today I leave the hospital, and within the next couple of days we'll head back to Pai, and I'll charge my camera and take a mountain of photos, and there will be milky snuggles. The kids are smitten, I'm smitten, Chinua is smitten, and my parents are smitten. (They're here!)

One complaint. I'm in a country that has some of the best fiber filled foods in the world. You can't walk down the street without finding green papaya salad or cut up fruit on ice! So why is the hospital feeding me bread, pasta, and meat? A word to the wise, hospitals: If you want your postnatal women to be able to poo, you have to feed them fruit! Or fresh vegetables. That is all.

How it goes.


You guys are so picky. I give you photos of pillows, and it's not enough. You need a baby.

I'll kill the suspense and say, nope. There won't be pictures of a gorgeous baby in this post either. I know. I've adjusted and moved on. I really thought it was going to happen quickly, that I would arrive in Chiang Mai and boop! Out comes a baby. But we're playing the waiting game.

Here's where I'm a lot more mature than I was ten years ago, waiting for Kid A at the tender age of twenty-two. I cried about it. I barely restrained my irritation with our housemates when they would breathe too loudly or talk or exist. I got my hopes up and then dashed innumerable times. Because I putz around for weeks, having contractions, ceasing to have contractions, and so on and so forth. It's how I do labor. Everyone has their special way. This is mine. (Grrrrrr...)

Of course at the end it doesn't help that one gets daily more uncomfortable. I was telling my friend Leaf that it feels like I have the opposite of a corset. My ribs hurt, they're being pushed out from the inside. My back is out and by the second half of the day there is no position in the known universe that feels comfortable.

But I'm calm about it. That's what it means to be thirty-two. In my life anyways. My new line of logic is that there's no cause to get dramatic. "Don't get dramatic about it," I tell myself as I drive along on my scooter (which I'm still driving). "It's a baby. It will come out."

Speaking of being over thirty, the other day I was on the bus from Chiang Mai to Pai (of course- I spend a lot of time on that bus) and I was talking to a couple of girls who were twenty-one and twenty-two, respectively.

"Just wait till you hit thirty," I said, probably for no reason. "You'll love it. All your angst and self loathing will disappear."

They looked at me like, Who said we had trouble being twenty? We're having the time of our lives, traveling the world, you wrinkly-eyed mad woman.

Is it too much to assume that everyone struggles with anxiety disorder and many babies in a few years and too little money and self loathing in their early twenties? Yes? Hmmm.

So anyways, here we are, and I was telling Chinua that the place where we're staying is such a perfect place to be when you are expecting a baby. There are two families, one with four children and the other with a children's home, so they have ten kids. Then there are ours, and this is just child heaven. The trees are ripe with children, they are falling from the branches.

The couple who are fostering eight kids were commenting on my kids the other night. Everyone had cake and my kids asked for more. "Oh I get it," they told me. "Your kids come from a small family, so have the idea in their minds that there's a possibility of seconds."

It's nice to be staying in a place where my family is considered small. Especially in Asia.

I've been going for walks. Looking at flowering trees, my most favorite things. 


This one is a night-blooming fragrant tree and it smells sooooo good.


And of course, bourgainvillea. God's perfect shade of pink.

I went for a walk with the little kids, and my big ones.


Other than one boy accidentally dropping his five baht in the sewer, it went perfectly.


The boys showed us how certain seed pods explode when you drop them in water.

And then one day the radiant ten-year-old girl who lives here turned all the little girls into princesses.




The ten-year-old declared it dance time, but the princes were skeptical and reluctant to dance.


"Not us," they said.


In conclusion, it's been beautiful. We are blessed. But I realize I still don't have a picture of a baby for you, so I'll give you this: A picture of me with birds on my head.

I love these birds.

(I was very happy, this was the most fun I've had in a long time.)

Still no good?

How about my kids holding a seven-month-old tiger? No?

At Chiang Mai Night Safari

I'll do my level best to get you a picture of a baby very soon.


A post in three parts

Part 1:


The kids and I went for a drive one afternoon, hoping to catch the last bits of sunshine on the combination of trees changing color and tangled wildflowers that are resting all along the hills around our home. At least, that's what I was hoping for. The kids were hoping to drive fast, to rattle around in a sidecar. But they also love the hills, the blue skies, the changing leaves.


We found the wildflowers. The seasons here in the mountains of Thailand flip my lid, because don't leaves change before Winter and don't wildflowers come in the Spring? But Winter, or the cool season, is followed here by the heat, and then the rain, and we don't have teak trees in California or BC anyways, and anyway, my homes are all tangled into one big clump of beautiful seasons. I'll take seasons, any one, just pass it my way.


When we took the drive, I think I was about 37 and a half weeks along, and I thought, brilliant! I'll get one of the kids to take a photo of me.

This was my last, exasperated look at Leafy, ever the careful composer, after he took shots of only my arm or only my belly, or my head looked weird, or I had no head. But he wasn't really into the pregnancy portrait, so he ran away down the road, back to the chariot, and this lovely exasperated photo is what I have to mark the moment.

Part 2:


I got a little more nesting done, and then I thought I'd better brag about it. I finished the pillow covers!

When we moved into this house, the only pieces of furniture were a few chairs and tables and the beds. So we made a little seating area with cheap cushions and pillows that I covered. The cushion covers took me a long time to sew, but the pillow covers are fast, if I just remember to sit down for twenty minutes at a time.


It still doesn't look that much like I hoped. I need to add some wooden pallets for under the cushions, (I have to figure out how to say "I want your old pallets to be my furniture," in Thai) and maybe even an upgrade to cushions that don't compress so easily.


But pillows! Done! I love the middle pillow- my friend Joy brought me a batik from Indonesia and I turned it into a pillow! The Thai batiks are different, and I look forward to adding a few of them. I love having special things and gifts around the house.


On one side of the room I've managed to replace all the yuck curtains with white ones that I've sewn. This is the side of the room that still needs a lot of work.


It's our big living/dining/school/everything room, and it's coming along.

Which leads us to

Part 3:

Which is that one way to solve the intense nesting bug if it won't leave you alone is to get up out of your house and go, because then you simply can't see all the things you've left undone!

On Sunday I started having an awful lot of more grippy contractions that obviously weren't active labor but could have turned into active labor. We don't have a car, and we're planning to give birth in Chiang Mai, three hours away from our home. The car rental place is always out of cars and the bus doesn't run after 5:30, so we decided to head into Chiang Mai a little earlier than planned.

In two hours we assembled everything we needed, including all the baby things which will be used for an actual baby, and made our way to the bus. I gathered snacks for the bus ride and soon we were pulling out of Pai.

Every one of our birth stories has been different, every one comical in some way or another. This time, driving the crazy number of curves with Leafy leaning on my belly, trying to time contractions, surrounded by the smell of little boy farts and the sound of the oldies/country music the van driver was playing, I couldn't help but love my life. So crazy and unusual and never the same.

(One of the songs played was "We are the World," which sent me off into a hit of nostalgia. When we got to the place we were sleeping, I had to look up the video, and then it seemed only prudent to find the Wikipedia article and figure out who every single person singing was. Of course, between Chinua (who grew up in Motown) and me, we already knew most people, but one person that we said, "Who on earth are you?" about turned out to be Billy Joel.)

So, as it turns out, we are staying with friends in Chiang Mai, waiting for this little one to make an appearance. Babies can't be rushed, and we are in the most special place ever to wait for a baby. There are sixteen children in the little collection of houses here, and I'm so thankful not to be shushing my kids in a guesthouse or hotel somewhere.

Oh, I'm so thankful for friends, for generous people, for a truck to use when we need to go to the hospital, for these amazing, beautiful circumstances that are the walls around this birth. Newborn Land here we come.


Oh, and one more wee thing. Journey Mama was nominated for a Canadian Weblog Award. Hooray! I'm honored.

Being intense about nesting.



This photo has nothing to do with this post, except to remind me of blue and orange, a lovely daughter, a wonderful day. It's here on this page to be something lovely, nothing practical at all.

I feel as though I have to have every single thing perfect before the baby comes. Do they call this nesting? And here's a confession: It's not easy to get every single thing perfect in a new country, where I am speaking a new language that makes me feel like I'm a very small child with moths in my ears. Also, when I have practical things to do, I sometimes have to get on the bus and take the three hour ride through the curves to the big town, and then I have to rent a motorbike and go from appointment to appointment, from shop to shop, until I am sitting on the side of the road, calling my husband, asking him to give me a pep talk because I can't walk another step.

Would my husband be willing to do these things?


Would I be willing to let him?

Probably not.

But perhaps I have it in my head that I will not be able to do anything else at all after the baby is born, because the enormity of an infant has expanded in my imagination in the four and a half years since I last had one.

I must protect that week of babymoon time. My mental health depends on it.

Still, maybe we don't need a washing machine right away, and I don't have to try to fit it in the budget, or figure out how to get it home. And maybe I can continue without an oven, as much as I would like to make granola bars for all those breakfasts coming up. And we need a storage solution for YaYa's constantly overflowing art table, but perhaps stacking things in a somewhat orderly way can continue to work for a while.

I need to let things go, I find, after a trip to the consulate and the doctor and the markets and a curvy bus ride back, on a day when I'm headachy and finally, finally, crashed into bed with my Superstar Husband doing everything for everyone, just like I don't want him to.

In truth, I'm well set up in a cozy home with kids who can get breakfast for themselves. There are shops nearby and fruit just down the street. The baby will come (a baby! a baby!) and will happy with being kissed. He won't care at all if half the curtains are white and the other half are still a sickly orange.

Babies don't need perfection. They only need love. Just like the rest of us.

In the very beginning of a year.

I'm full term.

It's fun to be expecting a new baby in these first weeks of a new year because everything is brand new and you know a little of what to wait for. You know that there will be kisses and little sleep and milk and emotions. You know enough not to plan too much. You know everything is shiftable and pliant in those first weeks and months: everything. The times of day, the regularity of walks, of shopping, of eating easy pickup dinners compared to cooking. The amount that you can stand other people, the skies and clouds and the sound of the new baby's voice. The walls themselves seem to shift, the trees are slightly to the left of where they used to be.

I know enough to know my emotions are fuller than I ever expect them to be, after I've had a baby. Also, that milk is everywhere and thus, I can't start the New Year with a resolution to not be covered in milk and baby spit up.

Okay. So what can I resolute? Resolve? Resolutify?

*Once a week (if at all possible) I will find a body of water and sit beside it. Whether it is a stream or a river or waterfall, I will sit near moving water and pray.

*I will be optimistic.

*I will spend 20 minutes doing things that need to be done. 20 minutes writing, 20 minutes cleaning the kitchen, 20 minutes reading to a kid. It's enough to start with, it usually turns out to be either enough, or it turns into more. But whispering, "Just 20 minutes," is a good way to begin.

*I will spend time on my porch. I will love the corners of my house.

*And I will be try to be ready for what God brings my way. A person who stays for dinner, a conversation that goes on for an hour, a new friend, a phone conversation.

Do you have anything that you want to do? That you want to put down in writing?