1982

We decided to have the baby at a birthing center, the only one in Manhattan, four miles uptown from the loft. Late in the third trimester, our baby got stuck in the wrong position, feet down. Mary Ann believed as part of her witch power that she had control over her body and could will the baby to turn round, but the staff at the birthing center, skittish about any risk, shifted our care over to the nearest hospital. Mary Ann still wouldn’t give up on natural childbirth—I remember sallying forth in the middle of the night to a twenty-four-hour pharmacy to get castor oil to help her contractions get moving after her water broke. Alas, natural childbirth was not our fate. We were in the hospital, thirty-six hours into labor, when a nurse didn’t like what she saw on the fetal heart monitor, our room suddenly filled with doctors and nurses, and Mary Ann was wheeled out the door. I stood outside the operating room not long after, holding our newborn open-eyed girl. We named her Eve.

—Rock In A Landslide

 
 

Mary Ann’s transition from two to three was rougher than mine. She hadn’t been able to will her body to cooperate—she’d undergone a Caesarian section and woke up with a gash in her belly, still woozy from anesthetic. She didn’t want the baby until she was herself again, but within a day, she was able to turn her attention to being a mother, and our baby happily latched on to her breast. I hovered, superfluous though integral to our new trio.

I stepped up for the father’s duty of driving our new family home, and when I was navigating the narrow, curvy passage around Grand Central Station, a yellow taxi suddenly appeared in the wrong lane, speeding straight at us till he swerved clear at the last-second. That was the moment I realized the stakes had been upped—it wasn’t just two emerging artists in the car, it was also our defenseless, dependent, life-long commitment, our shared project, about whom we suddenly cared more than anything else in the world.

—Rock In A Landslide

 
 
 

Eve was born in May, and in August, I accepted a three-week assignment to photograph the beaches of Rio de Janeiro. My mother made an exception to her usual tight control of the house in Maine and let Mary Ann and little Eve stay there just the two of them. The stay in Maine was idyllic. During my overlap with them, before and after my trip, we dipped Eve’s toes in the freezing ocean and introduced her to her first flowers, which she leaned towards in fascination from her snugly carrier strapped to Mary Ann’s chest. When I was gone, Mary Ann would lay the baby under the big spruce tree in front of the house, which she correctly guessed would be effective childcare: Eve was mesmerized by the ever-changing patterns of the branches against the sky, and Mary Ann drew and did watercolors.

—Rock In A Landslide

 
Kelly Nowels