Michael is growing up fast today. He got a call this morning that his friend's wife was in labor, and he picked up her sister and gave her a ride to the hospital. The baby was born this afternoon, about 6 weeks early. He weighs 4 lbs., though, so hopefully he will be OK. That's not too tiny, IMHO.
Mike's friend and his wife are very young, and I am praying they can manage taking care of a premature infant. The baby will have to be in the hospital for weeks before he can go home.
Mother and I started talking about babies and stories. Even though I've never given birth, I know a lot of baby stories.
The first one came from a friend of mine who got married young and had her first baby when I was still in college. I remember how strange it felt that this person who had been a friend of mine for years, since third grade, was now going to produce another human being from her tiny body. Sometime after the baby arrived we had a long phone conversation. I was in Athens and she was living up north, many miles from where she grew up in Tennessee. She made a point of telling me all about the episiotomy.**
I was completely and utterly HORRIFIED. It sounded like something out of a bad movie. Then she described the labor pain in graphic detail. I thought I might throw up. Oh My GOD. I cannot lie, I probably made a subconscious decision that day that adoption would be my best option, although that didn't happen for many years.
When I was a kid, in some sex ed class somewhere [it was the 70's and I had to set through such classes in school, girl scouts, church, maybe another one somewhere. They all kind of blur together in my mind now.] I was forced to sit through a birth film showing a baby born underwater, to a hippie couple, in a lagoon, and I remember being stunned and grossed out. Great film for encouraging birth control.
Skip ahead. When I finished college and started working in an office, one of my co-workers got pregnant. I bought a cute little baby outfit and went to the baby shower. There were SO MANY baby products there - and this was in 1986. Mind blowing. I never knew babies needed so much STUFF.
The baby tub and washcloth seemed unneccessary. My mother bathed me in the kitchen sink for years. I actually remember sitting in the sink [a big old farmhouse sink] until I was about 3 years old, happy as a clam, while Mom fixed dinner.
We actually have a home movie somewhere of Mom bathing me in the sink. Nowadays she would probably be shunned by the Minivan Mafia. The sink was always carefully washed before and after each bath. Plus, I was exceedingly healthy.
I felt like an utter idiot at that first ever baby shower. Not long before that, my cousin gave birth to her first baby and I was so excited, since she was the first grandchild on that side of the family. I went to the bookstore in Athens and bought her a tiny Georgia Bulldogs cheerleader outfit and mailed it off. Several years later I found out the outfit was for a two year old, not an infant. I felt like an idiot. [Said baby is now grown and has three children of her own. Wow, I feel OLD.]
My mother is an oracle when it comes to baby stories. She can sit and talk for hours, and her stories are always interesting. I will think I've heard all the stories and suddenly she will come out with a new one.
Not long ago, she told me that when she was born in 1933 both her older brothers had whooping cough. My grandparents had to keep Mom upstairs and the boys downstairs for a couple of weeks until they were well.
The doctor who delivered me, Dr. Watson, delivered more than 15,000 babies in his 60 year career. He and his family lived next door to my aunt and uncle in North Augusta. When he had been in practice for decades, he went to the high school football game with his wife one night and studied the football roster carefully. Then he turned to his wife and said "I delivered every player on the team!" [BTW, if you want to hear a genuine, beautiful southern accent, play the video in that story. He was 101 years old when it was made.]
The night before I was born Mom and Dad went to a John Wayne movie. I sat through many more John Wayne movies after that, because my dad loved The Duke, but at least my view was better in later years.. [I still love The Quiet Man.]
I wrote a short story recently and a couple of friends who read it asked me about why a woman in the story couldn't get pregnant. The character is a long distance runner with very low body fat. In that situation, most runners stop ovulating and then cannot get pregnant. If a woman has a great body for running [slim hips] that makes pregnancy and birth even more difficult. I know these things because of all the stories I've heard over the years. I had a cousin who had trouble conceiving because she was a runner, and very thin.
I am always amazed at birth stories that involve long labor or back labor. To me, these stories are far more frightening than any horror movie I've ever seen. Those movies are fake. Births are REAL.
I have a feeling that I would have been a huge coward if I'd ever given birth. I would have likely been screaming for an epidural even before the conception...
Birth stories have always fascinated me, though. Women's bodies are engineering marvels. My maternal grandmother, who stood 4'11, gave birth to three big healthy babies, the last one [my mom] when she was 34. A friend of mine who is 5'11, and a large, big-boned lady, has one son. Her body looks like it was custom-made for easy birthing, BUT the birth was so perilous they had to do a C-section. She told me that story one night when we were eating dinner in a restaurant, in graphic detail, and most of my dinner went home in a doggy bag..
I like to think that we are all reincarnated. Maybe one day, in a future lifetime, I will have a biological child, and by then it science will have made it painless and easy. Think about it. We all walk around with tiny computers in our hands. We've put human beings on the moon to walk around. We have electric cars. Paralyzed people and amputees can now use bionics to restore limbs.
BUT IT STILL HURTS TO GIVE BIRTH!
Somebody needs to fix that.
**An episiotomy is a surgical cut in the muscular area between the vagina and the anus (the area called the perineum) made just before delivery to enlarge your vaginal opening.