On December 10th we spent the day walking around the old colonial town of Gracias. Gracias means thank you in Spanish and legend places the origin of the town name to the early Spanish explorers who, after trekking through mountainous terrain, found a flat plateau inhabited by indigenous people. Upon seeing the flat land surrounded by mountains, they said, “Gracias a Dios hemos llegado a tierra plana,” meaning, “Thank God we have arrived at flat land.” It wasn’t long before Gracias became the temporary capital of the Spanish Central America.
We bought a loaf of coffee cake at the local bakery which turned out to be a total bust, giving a whole new meaning to crumble, and we reminisced about your birth. As the park central church bell clock chimed reminding us of the time, we recalled what we were doing exactly eight months ago. 8 chimes – your mother’s water broke the previous day, April 9th, her first morning after leaving her job, and after a fleeting moment of hesitation, she recited her mantrams and began her mental preparations. 4 chimes – I came home from work and your mom told me the news. My response was “let‘s do this!” You decided not to enter this world for another 42 hours. We made bigger loops around the town, always returning to park central so you could take a break to play on the grass with the local children while we picked at our powdery cake. Thinking back to April 10th – 8 chimes – your mother drove into London to do a routine stress test at the hospital with the midwife. You passed with flying colors. 12 chimes – your mother came into the school to volunteer with the crochet club and small cramps started. 4 chimes – cramps were five minutes apart and we went for a walk around Dorchester, now making the contractions 3 minutes apart. 6 chimes – we called the midwife as contractions were more intense. 7 chimes – after a wild hose sprayed down the bathroom, I filled the birthing tub and your mom climbed in. 8 chimes – active labor began and your mother revealed how truly strong she is. April 11th, 1 chime – your mom began pushing. 2 chimes – your champion of a mom gave her final push and your proud father brought you to her arms.
On December 11th, to celebrate your 8 month birthday, we took you, our water baby, back to the hot springs (we took you again the next day as well). The chicken bus we flagged down was completely packed and as soon as the passengers saw you, the little pale skinned baby, all the locals with babies stood up so their little ones could meet you. Asher, you have allowed us to connect with the local people in a whole new way. After we jumped off the bus, we began the 2km walk to the hot springs and it wasn’t long before a pickup truck came flying down the dirt road and we ended up in the back for the rest of the journey. We spent another magical day at the hot springs and you enjoyed watching all of the kids splashing and laughing around you.
We continued to recall your birthday; how the midwives stayed at our home drinking Chai until 5:30am, how we waited till 7am to call our parents with the news, and then how we called our amazing neighbors to ask for room service and who happily brought us heaping plates of french toast, fruit and smoothies. As we soaked in the warm pools in the cool shade of the jungle, we talked about how the same confidence that is affording us this adventure is the same confidence that led to our beautiful home birth. We were all prunes after five hours in the pools, so we hitched a ride back to Gracias with some American climbers who were traveling in a comfortable mini van.
We both agree that a birthday should celebrate the mother more so than the child, so in the evening, we treated your goddess of a mom to a waffle cone with coconut and chocolate ice cream and enjoyed it next to the huge Christmas tree, next to the church, which chimed out your bed time. Gracias, Mom.