Earlier this week, I headed to my old teenage stomping grounds of Farmville, VA. It was surreal to be driving through a place that holds so many incredible memories, juxtaposed with new urban growth. Fortunately, I was able to skirt the commercial area and gratefully journeyed on into the countryside. I had been invited into the stunning farmhouse home of the Allen family to meet the newest member of their family: one week old, Patricia Isabelle--or Isabelle for short.
In the Allen family, kinship is incredibly important. Each child is given the first name of a beloved family member and a unique middle name to call their own. Upon her birth, Patricia Isabelle became her great grandmother's namesake, although her precocious two year old brother Asher adoringly calls her "Belle."
Proud parents, Kendra and Jake, welcomed Isabelle into the world in a peaceful homebirth, an experience they describe as "powerful." Isabelle is their third child but her birth was the first to fully incorporate Kendra's desired birth plan. Some quick background: Kendra and I have been friends since we started dance classes together as elementary students. I vividly remember the day her daughter Lyla was born. Not only was it Thanksgiving, but it was also my birthday. Kendra and Jake had texted updates to me about the labor throughout that day. That evening, however, I received a call from Jake announcing Lyla's birth via emergency cesarean. I sat down and cried, grieving for my friend because I knew how important an unmedicated physiological birth had been to her.
When Kendra became pregnant a second time, I planned an intimate Mother Blessing ceremony for her. The goal of this ceremony was to celebrate Kendra as a mother and to remind her of her power. She went on to birth her son after a long labor, but had a low intervention VBAC. When I saw Kendra after her son's birth, she was visibly changed, feeling strong and powerful. She declared to me that she would have a homebirth the next time! And then she did. To read Isabelle's full birth story, check out Kendra's blog here.
Needless to say, it was a joy to reunite with my old friend and to spend time with her adorable family. I enjoyed question upon question from her eldest, was greatly entertained by her son's obsession with my collapsible step stool, and swooned over their perfect newborn.
...and as you can imaging, taking a picture of a family with three under four year olds was quite a riot!