Why Moving Is Like Childbirth
~ A Prequel to "The Snow in Maine Falls Mainly on Everything" ~
Jun 22, 2008
People tell you that when you have a baby that you’ll forget the pain the next time you have one. I never forget. I vividly remember the realization that a watermelon was making its way through my body and it was going to come out whether I was ready or not. I invite those who have not delivered babies to imagine said watermelon traveling through the body, seeking an exit. Pain is an understatement.
Moving from one house to the other though, seems like it could be a civil experience. A well planned, well thought out, strategized event, unlike the event of birth which descends upon one suddenly when the baby is ready, regardless of time of day, venue, or available staff.
The Due Date
We knew a month in advance that we were moving to Maine, the weekend of September 8th, 2007. It seemed like we had begun the process in plenty of time. We cleaned the barn, we cleaned the laundry room, we spackled and painted walls, we reserved a truck, we collected boxes and tape. We seemed to have it under control. But then, suddenly it became “the week we’re moving”. Days were invaded by visits to the doctor – Peter and I and Grace contracted a virus. Our son, Ranin, our main muscle man, developed an infection in his elbow, and couldn’t use his arm.
The Water Breaks
We got the truck Thursday night right as Peter hatched his respiratory virus. He could hardly drive the truck home, he had such a high fever. With help from some friends, we got off to a good start, loading away. Friday we continued but soon realized that thirty percent of our belongings were destined to stay behind – stuff that was beloved but not essential. Two houseplants that had been with us for ten years. Chairs, baskets, odds and ends that had been with us for decades. Nothing expensive, nothing irreplacable, just stuff we used and loved and will miss. I kept getting flashes of pioneer women who left furniture and china from Europe along the Oregon Trail.
Friday night came and we were only half finished. More friends came and helped, as did some neighbors who drove by and saw the truck and stopped. We worked by lantern light until we could work no more and crawled into our beds. Saturday, the packing and cleaning continued at a slug’s pace. Peter was utterly sick and should have been in bed. We just didn’t seem to have any momentum. Finally by eleven at night we had swept out the house, creaked the door shut and driven away.
Our state of exhaustion was twisted into something akin to delirium tremens, yet we set forth – Peter and Grace in the truck leading the way, and I, with Ranin, Tadin, two dogs and a cat in the van behind. The road was dark and seemed to twist on and on for hours. The cat, who had been howling in his crate after having been confined to one room all day in the house, released his urine and filled the van with an unbearable odor. Finally we saw a town. It was Tappahannock! We had traveled 12 miles!
As we pulled onto Route 17, I began to panic because I thought I was driving on the left side of the road. But actually I was driving on the left lane of two lanes going north. Peter and I had walkie talkies and I told him I was unable to drive safely. So all five of us and three animals stayed in one room at the Super 8 Motel. We slept like exhausted refugees running from the Terminator – that sort of trembling, comatose agony between sleep and waking.
Sunday morning we set out again, thinking we might make it to Maine. It was a lovely day, and we actually made very good time until we reached New York City that evening. There we sat in traffic for two hours, waiting to pay a toll to cross the George Washington Bridge. We got to our motel in Milford, Connecticut, by eleven at night. 24 hours in virtual labor!
The next day, Monday, we thought that it was going to be a four hour drive to Maine. Peter still had a high fever. There were a few minutes in a McDonald’s parking lot where he had to decide if he was able to continue driving.
It ended up being much farther than we thought. We didn’t reach our house in Windham, Maine until six in the evening. It had rained all day and the temperature had dropped about 30 degrees. It seemed as if we had skipped a season.
Our friend, Greg, and his son, Jordy, and Greg’s friend, Joe, all came to the house to help us unload the truck. Peter and I were coughing our heads off. Tadin fell asleep in the house with a fever. When the three men came to help us we were utterly drained. But with the help of reinforcements, we were able to unload the entire truck into the two car garage in one and a half hours – the same truck that took 48 hours to pack! Dominoes delivered pizza and our friends went home by ten.
Congratulations! You have a healthy baby house!
The baby was delivered safely! The great event was now behind us, and all the strain, agony and suffering was done. Thankfully, the house was furnished with big comfortable beds, brand new linen and blankets and towels, dishes, appliances and furniture. We had to unpack very little the first night. When we woke up in the morning, I was lying on my side in my new bedroom, looking out at tall oak trees framing the shining water of Hunger Bay, a part of Little Sebago Lake.
Every morning thereafter the face of the water was different – some days shining and bright, some days swirling mists rising, some days gray with rain. Little did I realize that by Christmas, the view out the window would be the frozen reality of our first Maine winter and it would seem endless. But that first morning the sweet, lingering, green summer spread its leafy self over the yard and I made scrambled eggs for breakfast. It was as divine as having scrambled eggs in the hospital after a birth.
Somewhere in my life I heard the term, “Irish Twins” which is a slightly humorous, thinly veiled pejorative term that means two babies born in a twelve month period by the same mother.
We went through a second move eight and a half months later when we had to leave the winter rental. That was an agonizing process too, but not as bad as the first one. And too long a story to go into now!
All in all, I’m happy we moved to Maine. It was hard for me to consider Virginia my true home even though we lived there for 21 years. I didn’t think I would miss it too much, but I find that I do get a lump in my throat when I think of dear friends and certain places. My children miss it profoundly because it is their birthplace. But Maine is Peter’s home state, and in essence, it is mine too. My parents were married on Great Diamond Island, in Portland’s Casco Bay, in 1946 when my dad was still in the Navy. Our family is beginning a new chapter here and I think it is significant.
I’ve continued my ongoing journey through menopause, regularly attending a wonderful women’s circle, and taking the course, The Artist’s Way, with an old friend. I feel the seasons and planets aligning in an extraordinary way and I also feel an uncanny sense of being home that I haven’t felt since I left New England in 1986.
We humans can also be like turtles, carrying our homes around with us. I refer to the home in our hearts to which Mr. Emerson referred while thumping his chest in the movie, “A Room With A View”. “Here is where the birds sing! Here is where the sky is blue!”
Here is where I live now.
Kimmy Sophia Brown has loved humor and music and freedom for as long as she can remember.She is especially passionate about the environment and caring for animals.
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