Monthly Archives: June 2012

A Time to Be Born

It happened a few years back, during a visit to my parents in California at the time I was living in India. My mom, a midwife, had a couple of assistants on call for the births she attended, but this time (though I can’t remember the details why) she asked me.

“Hey Pete, a lady just called. She’s in labor and sounds like things might move quickly. Want to be my assistant?”

(Yes, my mom calls me Pete, and yes, she is the only one allowed to call me that. And no, it wasn’t because she wanted a boy and I came out instead – just to clarify those points.)

I had read a number of labor and delivery books. My mom had given me classes on all that’s needed at a home birth. And I already had a couple kids of my own (without a doubt, for me, the greatest excuse to help a laboring woman – “I’ve done it too; you’re not alone. You can make it.).

Of course I jumped at the chance and within minutes, we were opening the front door of a home after a woman called, “Come in.”

We stepped in. A woman on her knees was leaning the top half of her body on the living room couch, her large tummy drooping below. The concentrating look on her face made it clear she was in the middle of a contraction. Mom gave me a few instructions as she knelt by the lady and waited quietly.

“Good, deep cleansing breath. You’re doing great,” Mom said, once the contraction had passed. “How you doing?”

“Fine.” The woman sat back for a moment. “Do you need me to get in any certain position? Do you need to check anything?”

“Just be comfortable. Stay in whatever position is best for you and that baby.”

“I think I’ll stay right here.” The woman suddenly closed her eyes and began to focus on her breathing as the next wave commenced.

As I pulled out a chart, a young man came down the hallway. “Finally got her to sleep.” He sat next to his wife and held her hand, speaking softly as she managed another contraction.

“Looks like she’s pretty close,” Mom told me. I started pulling out a few items that she asked for as she stayed by the woman, timing her contractions and not leaving her side. The woman remained in that position the entire time, including when she pushed the baby out, and into my mom’s waiting arms.

Mom rested the baby right on the new mother’s tummy and waited until the cord had stopped pulsing to tie and let the father cut it.

“It’s a boy!”

I couldn’t help but getting teary at the elation of the new father and mother. I concentrated on straightening a few things up.

Mom did the baby’s first check up. He got a good APGAR score. “And you deserve a medal,” she winked at the mom.

A few minutes later, a little girl came stumbling into the room. Once she noticed her new baby brother, she was wide awake, and stared at him the rest of the time we were there.

Overall, it was under two hours before we were driving home again, letting the family get to know their new bundle of joy.

“They don’t always turn out like this, do they mom?”

“Nope, hon, sometimes I’m with a laboring mom for 24 or more hours straight. Dad says I go down the rabbit hole, cuz he doesn’t hear from me for a while.”

I wondered if I’d have the stamina to do something like that. Somehow, I don’t think so.

“It’s amazing how smoothly you delivered that baby.” I thought back to my own births, lying on my back at the behest of the doctor, trying hard to push against gravity to get the baby out.

“The mamma delivered the baby. I was just there to catch it.” My mom smiled.

Over the years, my mom has clocked thousands of miles, driving from one town to another in a 150-mile radius as a home birth midwife.

Her vision is to open a birth clinic in the city, to give mothers a natural and healthy option for delivering their babies.

She and the midwives she works with are some of the most amazing and dedicated women I know. They give all they have for mothers, fathers and babies to have their ideal birthing experience. Every mother deserves to give birth in the way she is most comfortable. Will you help them in their vision?

[Search for A Time to Be Born in Mission: Small Business. They are awarding grants to up to 12 small businesses, and your choosing A Time to Be Born just might make it possible to help many women see their dreams come true. The deadline is June 30th, coming up fast, so please don’t wait!]

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Happy (belated) Father’s Day

Father with SonFather’s Day was a few days ago. It was the first Father’s Day that my husband wasn’t around, having gone on a month-long trip with one of our kids.

My day started off needing to go out with the kids.

My three-year-old son, as usual, had other plans.

“It’s time to get ready,” I let him know

“No,” he replied without missing a beat.

After a few other similarly fruitless attempts at persuasion, I stopped.

Is it just me, I wondered, or is he more “testy” than usual?

Then I realized.

It wasn’t “just me”. And I knew why.

Daddy wasn’t around.

Usually, when a battle of wills came around, I would head to the background and let my husband step up to the plate.

Now I was the main batter. And my son liked playing hardball.

Yes, at three years old.

I knew I had no other options. I stepped up to the plate. (Don’t worry, I didn’t really have a bat.) I let my son know, clearly and calmly, how I felt about his behavior and what I expected from him.

It worked . . . that time. The day held a few more similar episodes – to be expected as a mother of a strong-willed boy in his limit-testing era.

That evening, I wrote my husband a letter, thanking him for being just what he is – a father.

I also let him know I can’t wait until he gets back.

I’m ready for a break in the dugout.

 

***

 

My dad was also out of town on Father’s day, on a business trip. I had agreed to look after the birds and rabbit while he was away.

They aren’t my dad’s animals, actually. They’re my brother’s. But my parents have been looking after them for a while.

I texted my dad on Father’s Day morning and he called me a few hours later.

He thanked me for the text. And the rest of the phone conversation consisted of him asking about the animals.

Did the rabbit get water? Does he seem too hot? Did you switch on the air conditioner to cool them down a bit? I bought plenty of greens before we left. They’re in the fridge.

It’s not that my dad is overly partial to a rabbit. But he does love his son and knows the animals mean a lot to my brother.

I know my dad loves all of us.

We might not be children anymore, but we’ll always be his kids.

 

***

 

Grandfather with GranddaughterSo Father’s Day passed without much of the usual events of the day. I didn’t have the chance to make breakfast in bed with the kids for their daddy, or take my own dad out for lunch.

But I did get a chance to think.

About two great dads. About what they mean to their kids . . .

And to me.

 

Thank you . . .

Happy Father’s Day! (Better late than never.)

Children: an Inspiration, or a Responsibility?

Mom and Daughter Playing in ParkIf I were to ask you, a parent, “What is the most important thing in your life?” your answer would probably be the same as mine: “My children.”

If I asked you why you worked or did your main daily activities—cooking, cleaning and laundry, and the multitude of mundane tasks, your answer would probably be, “For my kids.”

My schedule, my very life, would be vastly different if it wasn’t for my kids . . . obviously. When asked to think about a driving purpose in much that we do, the answer of any parent is most likely going to be, “It’s for my children, my family.”

Now I want to ask a question, one that might not be that easy to answer, at least, it wasn’t easy for me to answer when I asked myself.

Do your children know how important they are to you?

If you were to tell them, “You’re one of my main motivations, the primary reason for why I do what I do,” would they be surprised, or would they say, “I already know that?”

And if they do know, how does that information come to them?

“The only reason I have to work so hard is because of you . . . so you better be grateful.”

Or

“I love you so much that I am happy to do everything I do, because I want you to be able to have all that you need and to know that you are loved.”

Are your children your inspiration, or your responsibility?

We know we love them, but do they?

If you only manage to do one thing today, make sure it’s that you’ve told your kids that you love them, and are happy they are in your life. Put it at the top of your to-do list, today and every day.