Saturday, March 7, 2009

Happy Birthday, Jack!

Our son Jack was born 18 years ago, right about now, in the wee hours of the early morning in our grad student duplex on Laurel Avenue in St. Paul, Minnesota. I was assisted through pregnancy and labor by two naturopathic physicians; they showed up relaxed and smiling and helped through the night. One of them, Helen, had her own infant daughter in tow. The other, Tom, a male midwife, was also calm, alert, and confidence-inspiring.

My friends Kathryn and Nor were there, too, talking around the kitchen table during the early stages of labor. Nor's teen-aged daughter Deirdre came with sleeping bags; she promptly took on the task of helping with Helen's baby. Just as I went into the final moments of labor I remember issuing this command, punctuated by Earth Motherish deep gutterals: "Promise me, Deirdre, that you won't do this until you are at least 18!" Now D is the mom of the Seven Sidekicks – she took my advice ("Um, okay, whatever ") and then eventually found the right great mate and plunged full tilt into intensive adoptive and bio-momhood.

Jack was 10 on the Apgar scale, as recorded by Tom after he ran all the tests. I was thrilled by the sci-fi miracle of having helped create a perfect golden brown baby boy, one who latched on and rotated his gaze from me to his dad with a look of furrowed scepticism: "You guys know what you're doing out there? Hope so!"

Eventually my parents and Roger Hale came around ("Quelle bébé!" wrote Roger in Jack's book), bringing cinnamon rolls and jubilation. We spent the early morning hours sitting in the dining room, sleeping bags on the floor, new baby nursing and going from arm to arm, scrutinizing all his adoring humans. My friend Lisa showed later when the sun was streaming in the bedroom windows. She brought Nellie, her youngest then 2-year-old daughter, who shares Jack's birthday. (Happy birthday, Nellie!) Andreas washed the sheets and called his parents in Deutschland: their first grandchild had been born!

It was clear and cold; we had a bit of a snowstorm. The headline of the Star Tribune read "Bush Basks in Gulf Glory": the war in the gulf had just ended. Everything else that followed was still all unknown.

Jack just came home after a night out with friends: 2 am. He's still 10 on the scale. Here he is last summer with his cousin-brother Thierry (from Papua New Guinea), and in the winter with Lenni and Sav. "Happy birthday, Jack! I'm blogging about you!" "I bet you are!"


Lyle Daggett said...

Delightful reading about this. I love how the stories of people being born are rarely like the melodramas on T.V. and in the movies. Real life (no news flash here) is so much more interesting.

Also loved, of course, your previous post below about Wally. Great picture of him. :)

elena said...

Yes, having 2 gentle successful homebirths made me very interested in all of the media depictions of childbirth, most of which involve a panic-stricken race to the hospital at the very first sign of labor. Also, birthing mothers tend to be prone or propped up in bed, whereas verticality, for me, was the name of the game when "dropping a baby"..

Nor said...

Fabulous comment: "He's still a 10" on the scale!!!