I am appreciating today one of those special events that are life-altering.
Twenty-three years ago, I was ready for my second child to make an appearance. Labor started late morning. Because the second baby progresses faster, I called my midwife. I don’t know when she arrived. I do know it was sooner than necessary, which did not please her husband for some reason. They had plans or he needed the vehicle. Something like that.
I didn’t see anyone else for most of the rest of the day, until the baby was born. My mother-in-law showed up and took our five-year-old for the day. My parents drove down and parked in the living room. Was my sister there? You know I find it awful that I can’t remember! I need to dig out the pictures! I think it was just my parents who waited for many hours in my living room for the arrival of a new grandbaby.
But in the room on the southeast corner of my house, it was just me, my husband-turned-labor-coach, my midwife, and the little one on the move. I wasn’t as mobile with this delivery–not walking the block or the living room, like I did with the first one. Things seemed a lot more intense, and I really just wanted to stay in one place. And labor.
It took longer than any of us expected. I remember one point when my husband trying to be funny. When didn’t go over well, my midwife announced I was in transition.
Still things weren’t progressing like I wanted them to. Or how anyone wanted them to. There was a sense of uneasiness about the midwife as she listened to the baby and to me. “Baby doesn’t like it when you lay on your left,” she would change and I would struggle to move. Then it was “try this” or “maybe this would be better.” Always smooth and steady, she was a rock who never issued orders or commands. She trusted the process and she trusted me. Finally, I remember saying, “Well someone has to do something to get this done. I guess it has to be me.” Duh.
At that point I got out of bed. The baby liked that. The end stages of labor were immediate and all-consuming. I pushed in a squatting position. Once I decided to “do something” the baby was here. And very quiet. For just a little bit.
My husband,behind me, said he was staring at a very blue infant; he thought the baby was dead and the midwife was acting like nothing was wrong so she didn’t freak us out. She started massaging and talking–that’s what I heard and I found it comforting as well–and finally, that welcomed cry came, his skin pinked up, and we were the proud parents of a new baby boy who was ready to be heard.
I do remember that the pictures show that my poor husband looked more tired from the ordeal than I did, Such a trooper.
The umbilical cord had been wrapped around the baby’s neck and shoulder, which was what had made the delivery more difficult. Not to mention that rather large head….
Once my new son found his voice, he exercised it with vigor. As the midwife weighed him, and he was thrashing and screaming, I remember her saying, “This one has an attitude!”
His brother and grandmother came home soon after he was born. Everyone took turns welcoming him. I love looking at the picture of him gazing at my mother with that intensity newborns have when they are fully alert and learning who loves them.
Does he have an attitude? Yes. It is easy to tell when he’s angry or upset, or feels an injustice has been committed. As a young boy and as a teenager it was sometimes a struggle to control the gut reactions that came with those strong feelings.
It is also easy to tell when his heart is fully engaged, which is often. He cares deeply about people, and wants nothing more than to be of help. He listens with devoted attention, gently offers some of the most reassuring words or suggestions. His smile and his hug come readily for anyone, young and old alike.
I remember getting my first kisses from him; I was standing in my kitchen holding him…
I remember being concerned that he wasn’t talking much when he was three. Just as I started investigating speech therapists and such, he began talking. Not in one-syllable words, but in complete and complex sentences.
He took his good old time learning to read as well. By then, though, I had learned that he takes his good old time learning just about everything, but he does learn, and then he becomes skilled quickly thereafter.
He has brought a darling daughter into my life.
So had the events of June 2, 1992 never occurred, the life I know now would have been very different. I can’t be grateful enough for that day 23 years ago that brought the pain, the fear, the exhaustion, the cry, and the satisfying joy that is my son.
What a precious present.