We are home (announced with a big sigh of relief). Two weeks, two parties, and two houseguests later our home has officially been broken in. It fits us perfectly. Our home has sumptuous natural light, NO CARPET in the living areas (although the echo is quite irritating), and a divinely deep soaking tub in the master bedroom. We still have painting and decorating and unpacking to do, but that can all wait.

The girls transitioned well, save for Kaia waking up every morning just as the sun rises and climbing into our NEW KING-SIZED BED with us. I stare at the full-sized bed that had been our respite for four years and it may as well be a crib compared to this new, spacious bed. I am not even aware of another body (or three, except for the one intermittently attached to my boob) while snoozing.

At last we have a yard that is useful, designed with our kids in mind. And after hand-picking 50 plants, I finally have the native desert landscape I’ve dreamed of for years: sculptural ocotillo, fiery chuparosa, fragrant lavender and sage, aromatic creosote, dainty Mexican evening primrose, feathery deer grass and rye, spiky desert spoon agave, proud red yucca, tiny mesquite trees, large Palo Verde trees, and a smattering of other colorful and hardy specimen. I can barely wait for the blooming season and for the monsoon to continue to bring the parched desert some rain.

Even with fabulous help from friends, the move was tortuous. After coming down with a stomach bug, I had no energy to finish packing, cleaning, and moving the last few days. This meant that Jason took on the responsibility of cleaning the old rental home on the last evening of our lease.

A few days later, I retrieved some items from my trunk and noticed a pungent aroma. And then I saw it…

ME (hands on hips): Jason, I have to say that what I just saw outside in my van totally hurt my heart.

HIM (looking up from breaking down a box): What?

ME: My entire small – but sentimental – stash of frozen breast milk de-thawed and leaking in my trunk!

HIM (pausing with eyes wide): Um…that probably means…that your placenta is there too.

ME: WHAT?!? Are you effing kidding?

HIM: I…I was in such a hurry and unpacked the fridge and freezer and I think…I THINK I forgot to bring it inside. I think it’s in the same bag as the breast milk.

ME (rushing out the door): Oh god forbid…

I shuffled through a few items and then I noticed a freezer bag full of blood. My blood. I pulled it from the plastic grocery bag and held it up, the organ squishy and dripping. Nothing brings back the memory of childbirth more intensely than the actual smell of it. My eyes went back and forth between the 60 oz. of leaking breast milk and the gory looking body part sealed in a Ziploc. There in my van – thawing in the scorching desert heat for two days – was practically every bodily fluid from my body. Like a womb on wheels. Thank goodness I wasn’t pulled over by a cop; I would have hated trying to explain THAT.

Unable to trash it, I brought the placenta in and threw it into our new freezer. I still have no idea what I’m going to do with it.

The windows in my van were rolled down for days after that, trying to air out the funk of birth.


Since the last birth story I’ve posted, I’ve attended 6 amazing births: three homebirths, three hospital births, only one little girl nestled in between all the boys. Up next: two more hospital births and two homebirths and then I have September, November, and December off to just be mama to my girls among the cool desert breeze of “winter”.

This work of mine, the work I hold so sacred and tenderly, is trying on my emotions and physical body. And yet I wouldn’t choose any other calling right now, any other way to be most connected to women, birth, and the cycle of life and transformation. I emerge always changed. Who knew the human spirit could be so pliable and open, able to move through experiences with new resolve and knowledge each time? Labor and birth is a powerful teacher. And I am stunned every single time I witness these mamas, in their trance-like states and “I can’t do this, I wanna die!” moments, become invincible before my eyes.


How is it that I am mother to a one year old and a three year old?

Indigo, I believe, exists in part to remind me of the simple joys in life. She is goodness. She is light. She is giddy and goofy and kind. She has 6 teeth, is walking like she’s always known how, colors with markers and crayons, has little interest in listening to stories or “watching” TV, is our garbage disposal for just about any food, beats the congas, plays most contently outside, has yet to ever sleep more than 4 hours at a time at night, still nurses, laughs like it’s no one’s business, and sings her own little songs. She signs “bird”, “dog”, “bath”, “cat”, “more”, “eat”, and “all done”. She babbles, saying “Dada”, “Mama”, “Kaaaaai-a!”, “banana”, “all done”, and says – with pointed finger – an insistent “that, that, that!” when she wants something. A tough cookie compared to her sister, she puts up with Kaia’s pushing, grabbing, hitting and “hugs” (arms around the neck). She would be most happy if she could be eating, naked, outside, in a bathtub.

She suffers from the Curse of Many Nicknames, many of them incarnations of another: Go-zer, Teen Wolf, Wolfie, Goofenstuff, Goofenstein, Wolfenstein, Nutter Butter, Weensy, Weeny, Weenwolf, Go-zey, Tinytines, Little, Tinywines.

My Indigo is a symbol of our human place on this earth – both so tiny and significant at once. Important.

***************************************************************************************** Kaia is a pistol, a ragamuffin, a spitfire girl with the need to devour life down to the bone. She is finally showing interest in potty training and would wear her Lightning McQueen pajamas every single day – all day – if I allowed it (and really, why DON’T I allow it?). Her sharp memory and imaginative skills bowl me over with amazement every day. Her last bit of “little girl-ness” is hanging on, but now I witness only glimpses of it.

On her recent birthday, I snuggled into bed with her and shared her birth story. She listened intently, holding my hands and watching my mouth. Then I asked her questions, ones whose answers had not been revealed before in the birth story she’d heard many times.

Do you remember being in mama’s belly? YES

Was it warm or cold in mama’s belly? WARM

Was it light or dark in mama’s belly? DARK

Did you feel safe or scared in mama’s belly? SAFE

When you came out of mama’s belly was it dark or light in the room? LIGHT

Indeed, she had a 50/50 chance, but my heart swelled with the possibility that she recalled with primal knowledge her very first home, the place in which we shared blood and heartbeats.

And then she said to me:

“I didn’t want to come out…”

And I paused, bittersweet tears in my eyes, and said I understand, sweet pea. I really do.

Later, when my mother was visiting and asked her what it had sounded like in mama’s belly, she replied with the sound “Thump thump, thump thump, thump thump”. A beating heart.


11 Comments Add yours

  1. So glad to hear you are in your new home – it sounds lovely. Have tears in my eyes from Kaia’s recollection of her first home. What an amazing and precious conversation. I ask M about her time in the womb occasionally, but have not received any meaningful answers. Maybe Sophie will remember, although it will be a while before she’ll be able to answer me, lol. I would love to hear her take on the birth, as it seems she orchestrated the whole thing, including her appearance before the midwife arrived!

  2. janistan says:

    I love the conversation with Kaia.
    Glad you are settling in!! Much love to you and yours.

  3. Chelsea says:

    So glad you are happy and settled in your new home. Your girls are adorable and I also can’t believe I am mother to a 1 and 3 year old!

  4. Megan says:

    So glad you are (somewhat) settled. I love to hear about Indi and Kaia. Our girls just keep growing and growing. I love that conversation with Kaia. So wonderful. Hope you have some time to chat soon!

  5. bella says:

    so, so happy you are there, settling in.
    it is good to hear your voice here.
    may you root and rest and slowly, bit by bit, feel settled, welcomed in this space.
    love to you.

  6. Suemonster says:

    OH MY …..the snuggle in bed and mammas belly story GOT ME .

    How amazing your getting this all down for them . Your two girls sound so much like mine …one slowly losing the baby-ness …and the baby amazingly independant and full of quirks !

    Love your blog !

  7. NAK
    congratulations on getting moved and settled n. it sounds perfect for your family. btw i don’t know what i’d do w/o my king bed now either.
    i’m so sorry about the breastmilk and placenta mishap. at least you can hold onto the placenta and plant it someday, right?
    your girls are so amazing. love the stories about them. 🙂 and how can it be that indi is 1 and kaia 3?? this year flew, FLEW by.

  8. This was so, so sweet, although the placenta/milk incident just about brought tears to my eyes. Pumping no fun! Losing pumped milk even less fun!

    Amazing, amazing photos and words for the girls.

  9. clmama says:

    Oh your stories always make me laugh and nearly cry. Your placenta story was just heartbreaking yet your words, comical – oh friend. *sigh* Love that you love your new home. Time to have another baby and christen the place! XO You are a gift, Leigh…

  10. mb says:

    My Indigo is a symbol of our human place on this earth – both so tiny and significant at once. Important.

    feeling this.


  11. New Mama says:

    Beautiful post. And I love Kaia’s recollection. I’m still hoping that Henry will be able to tell me about it, too.

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