So Much To Be Thankful For 4

It has been over month since my last blog entry, and so much has happened. Some of it was so terrible I could hardly register it was happening to us, and some was so amazing that I truly felt as if we were being held closely in God’s hands. In October, our first grandson, Jordan Biron, was just ten weeks old. After a somewhat dramatic and unexpectedly early birth, Jordan was now growing beautifully, and was constantly delighting the entire family. He certainly had no idea that his first cousin, Avery Isaac, was about to make his entrance into the world, or that his family was about to have a much too close brush with death.

Avery’s birth began with a very long, hard labor for his mother, Natalie. It was one that started on Monday night around 10 pm, continuing all through Tuesday. By Wednesday morning labor was not progressing in a way the midwives were happy with, and it was determined that Natalie should be moved from the birthing center to the hospital. Mark and I went to meet them there. As I drove up the mountain, I was understandably worried, and to calm myself I began to sing. I chose a song called “The Prayer.” It was one I had been working on for an upcoming concert, but the way I sang it on that morning was different, it was a much more urgent supplication. Something deep inside me must have realized we were going to need some divine intervention before the day was out.

For the next twelve hours my daughter-in-law continued to labor. With each contraction, Mark, David and I would surround her with loving support and Reiki. Natalie took what she could from us, and then proceeded to show us all just what she was made of. She powered through those long hours with no medication other than the IV Pitocin they gave her to speed her labor along. It was after nightfall before Avery finally arrived. Natalie had been so strong and determined through all of it, almost super human. I was so proud of her. It seemed as if no obstacle could stand in her way… until one did. An hour after the birth, the placenta still hadn’t delivered and the doctors took Natalie to the Operating Room for what should have been a simple procedure.

What happened next, I can hardly describe. I have never before experienced such highs followed so suddenly by such lows. We were watching David hold his newborn son, all of us marveling at Avery. He was still a bit smooshed from the birthing process, and wrinkly, but already he was studying us with these intense, dark eyes, and my heart swelled instantly with love. You could see on David’s face that he was still trying to come to grips with the fact that he was now a father. But mostly he was waiting for Natalie to come back to the room so he could share all this newness with her. The clock ticked on, and still she didn’t return. Our joy in Avery suddenly shifted to worry for Natalie. At long last, a doctor and a midwife entered the room. One was somber faced, the other visibly shaken. They had come to tell us that they were now in a fight to save Natalie’s life. One look at my son’s face said it all. His world was crumbling before him and ours along with it.

Fortunately, we averted that worst case scenario. Between Natalie’s impressive strength and a very skilled Ob/Gyn, Natalie fought her way back from the brink of death. She survived multiple blood transfusions and two very uncomfortable days in the ICU. David never left her side. Mark and I were checked into the hospital so that we could stay with Avery up in the maternity wing. Being ripped from his mother’s arms was a rough start for Avery. He struggled at first to feed and to hold his body temperature, but we held him, and sang to him, and told him stories, and soon enough he figured out the basics. Twice they let us bring him down to the ICU, and the reunion of mother and child was more than good for all our souls.

Three days later we brought Natalie and Avery home. The worst was behind us, but we were cautioned that it would be a long recovery for Natalie, and we were told she might not be able to nurse the baby. A few days after leaving the hospital, Avery was nursing well and getting plenty to eat. A week after that, Natalie told me she thought she was ready to get by without the extra help from Mark and I. So we stepped back, let them take the wheel, and they proceeded to navigate this part of their life’s journey beautifully.

Since then, we’ve enjoyed a return to normalcy. We celebrated Halloween together, Thanksgiving together, and just recently we decided to risk going out for breakfast with the baby.  It was Avery’s first time in a restaurant. He slept mostly, but when he did wake, his eyes first settled on the big picture window where cars could be seen driving down Historic Route 66 in Flagstaff. While his interest lasted longer than I expected, he’s still a baby; it wasn’t long before he began to cry lustily for his mom so he could nurse.

What I love most about our happy ending is that we can laugh easily once again. We can take joy in watching David and Natalie raising their son side by side. Their days and nights are full of the challenge of being new parents. I’m not sure they have much time to stop and reflect on what almost happened. Sometimes I still do. I have to pause and let myself feel that sense of relief and gratitude. I understand so much more intimately now how great a gift is each and every one of these moments.

That was my October, by November I could once again concentrate on a very different kind of special event. While both my daughter-in-laws had been hard at work growing my two beautiful grandsons, I had embarked on a very different kind of creative endeavor. I mentioned in an earlier blog that in March I’d met another singer, Shira Fitzpatrick, and that we’d been working together, building a repertoire of songs. But actually, what Shira and I were working on was something more than singing. At our first rehearsal, we discovered that we had something else in common; we were both deeply engaged in energy work.

I have been a Reiki practitioner for twenty years now, and Shira, while relatively new to Reiki, is a very experienced practitioner of Chi Kung. As soon as we opened our mouths to sing, we could feel the energy coursing through our bodies and flying off our fingertips. I have used Reiki in my singing practice and in my voice studio for many years, but what I was experiencing with Shira was stronger than anything I had ever felt before. So we listened to what the energy seemed to be urging us to do. Shira began to instruct me in Chi Kung practices and I began to show her the ways that I used Reiki to enhance my singing. We both began to notice changes immediately. We were more open, more aligned, and our breath support became an even stronger foundation. As we sang, our hands could not remain still, so drawn were they to the currents all around us. Soon, we concluded that when we put together our first concert it had to also be about using Reiki and Chi Kung energy more openly.

I have thought a lot about the timing of Shira and I coming together. By the time Natalie went into labor I was well established in my expanded Reiki and Chi Kung practice, and I used these combined techniques actively during Natalie’s labor and delivery. But even before Avery’s birth, it seemed to me that what had happened between Shira and I had to be more than coincidence. The energy had opened so wide for us, I felt like we were being strongly encouraged to take this opportunity to grow as healers and as singers. The world is changing rapidly, and uncertainty seems to weigh heavily on so many of us. Perhaps in troubling times, one of the best things we can do is to raise our voices to sing of love, to give thanks, to honor the divine that exists within us all, and to give each other strength and joy.

In mid-November, (Avery’s one month birthday) Shira and I held a concert in my barn where we unveiled our work together. About 26 people came to hear us sing and experience the energy. People loved it! Based on their reactions and comments, I think we achieved what we set out to do. You don’t have to take my word for it though. I have put the concert up on YouTube. If you’re so inclined, give a listen to some or all of it and let me know what you think.

October and November have flown by. It is now December, and Mark and I are on the road. We are currently in Brazil where we have already traveled to Chapada Diamentina, a remote location of exquisite natural beauty that spans out as far as the eye can see and beyond. The river beds there are filled with deep, swirling holes of water carved by diamonds tumbling around inside them. Once upon a time, people could just reach in and locate a diamond, but now the diamonds are few and far between, it is only the stories of lucky locals that are plentiful.

Before we head home again we will stop in NYC to see Jamie, and then in Philadelphia to see Jeremy and Julie and our other new bundle of joy. We will be arriving in time to celebrate Jordan’s first Hannukah together. He will be four months old by then. Already, he has a ready smile and tries to “talk” to us on facetime. There has definitely been a lot of change these past months in my family, lots of uncertainty, but also so many blessings, so very much to be grateful for.  

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