October 21, 1990. Urbana, IL. We did not find out the gender of any of our kids ahead of time. When Rae was expecting with our second we had some girls’ names that we really liked, but if it was going to be a boy Rae, wanted to name him Emanuel after her grandfather. I wasn’t crazy about the name at the time. Towards the end of the pregnancy we knew that the baby was breech and we were told to go to the hospital as soon as possible if anything like contractions started. That Sunday we had just had a huge supper of challah and minestrone soup. When Rae called at me from upstairs and said that there was a lot of bloody show and mucous in the toilet. So we left immediately for the hospital. When the nurse checked for dilation she said “Congratulations you’re six centimeters…….. and your baby has 5 toes.” At that point what seemed like 20 people descended on the room, starting IV, shaving, verifying history, giving Rae medication to prevent aspiration and then they rushed us to the OR. I was initially allowed in the OR, but as soon as the doctor arrived they put her to sleep and told me that I had to leave. I wanted to stay and hold Rae’s hand through the procedure. “It’s okay, I’m a nursing student” was the first thing I could think of. Which to me meant a lot, but to the people in the OR it meant less than zero and they shuttled me out of the door. I watched the birth of our son through a small, square window in a wooden door. After the c-section they were wheeling Rae to the recovery room and they brought the baby to show her. She was obviously in a lot of pain but wanted to hold the baby. It’s a boy they announced as they handed her the baby. She looked at me, and said “His name is Emanuel, do you have a problem with that?”
October 21, 2015. Wickenberg, AZ. The rotating support crew got up early and made us a huge breakfast of oatmeal, sandwiches, and hot tea. Then the assembled masses sang “Happy Birthday” over the phone, two time zones away, to our son–who now goes by Manu. We had just gotten up, but he was already at work and had taught his first class of the day at the high school in Chicago where he works. You know, one day there you are losing your mucous plug and in what seems like the blink of an eye they’re teaching on the Westside of Chicago. Sigh. Where does the time go.
I guess you know the honeymoon is over when you fall and all people do is complain that you’re getting blood on everything. When I used to work on Labor and Delivery we had a sign up that would indicate the number of days without a person falling on the unit. If I still worked there it would perpetually read zero. Today was easier than yesterday. I don’t think I’ve ever spent so much time riding in a straight line. Ever. When I looked ahead at the road it seemed that the telegraph poles would get shorter as they stretched off into the distance. Giving the illusion that up ahead just over the horizon was downhill. Despite the fact the poles kept getting shorter the promised downhill did not appear. I think what I was seeing was a result of the curvature in the surface of the planet.
The last week before I left for the trip was total chaos. Every day was full of things that needed to be done. But our youngest daughter Sophia called and wanted me to visit her at college before I left. She lives three hours away and I did not really have a day to spare to do this. But when your kids want to spend time with you, you make the time. We only had a few hours between classes and when she had to work, so she had made an itinerary to make the best use of the time. She showed me her new apartment, explaining every item on every shelf in great detail. We had coffee. Then ordered pizza. The pizza we took to a local park to eat for a picnic. Eventually it was getting close to work time and Sophia said we had to leave. I know I had reservations about finding the time to visit but that moment, there on the picnic blanket watching the autumn leaves blow. That moment I wanted to last forever.
Do you know who went to their grave thinking: “You know what? I spent too much time with my kids.” Fucking no one, that’s who.
Peace, love and midwives