"Write a world where we can belong
To each other and sing it like no other..."
–U2, Love Is Bigger Than Anything In Its Way
That certainly didn’t sit well with our families, especially mine. I remember my parents and my sister staring at us in disbelief with the guilt-charged super-stink eye. Then asking me when we were alone if it was all my wife who didn’t want them, and when I told them no, it was me too, then more disbelief and super-stink eye.
“You’ll regret it if you don’t,” they’d say. Shake their heads. Roll their eyes.
But we were resolute in our decision. Without a doubt. No wavering. Year after year we lived our lives fully, with no apologies, traveling around the U.S. and around the world, eventually to again endure the never-ending child question nearly ever visit with family. Nearly 10 years together went by before we changed our minds. And we did change our minds. We’re happy we did. Thankful we did. Gratitude abounds. All the ups and downs that come with parenting, we were all in. Are all in.
The Mama (what I lovingly all my wife) and I have always believed (and know) that we’ve been on a spiritual journey together, having possibly known each other for lifetimes, and having chosen to be together again. We feel we’re closer to God now more than ever, not bound by ancient religious texts and the patriarchal words of men, but embraced the grace of a greater love, a forgiving and nurturing love.
Two important moments in our lives helped us define this greater love, one that celebrates the feminine and the motherhood that comes with having children, although we certainly don’t disparage those who don’t have then, or can’t. That is part of their journey, not ours, and their greater love is their own.
Our journey now includes Beatrice and Bryce, and no matter what important role I’ve played and will always play in their lives, the Mama carried them and birthed them and nursed them and everything’s them, and then together we’ve chosen to raise them…
September 22, 2008
Around 6:00 p.m. I go downstairs to get something to eat. Three minutes after I order a cheeseburger and fries our doula runs into the cafeteria telling me to come now. My first thought is the baby's about to be born, but as we're running back up the stairs, she says, "The baby crashed and they went to the O.R.!"
The baby crashed and they went to the O.R., I think.
The baby crashed.
I feel like my body has fallen away and I'm flying towards the room. Our midwife and doula are shouting things I can't comprehend and they tell me to get the blue scrubs on. They lead me to the operating room and a nurse lets me in.
"You're the husband? Come this way."
Stark whiteness washes over me and I'm immediately sat next to Amy. She's shaking but strong and ready to go. I'm out of my mind but not showing it. She was supposed to be born at home, I think. The OB is there. There are nurses and the anesthesiologist and everyone's moving around doing things I don't understand. The leg clamps don't work on the table, so two of the nurses actually hold Amy's legs up. Amy’s spinal tap had numbed her lower half, but pushes and pushes anyway and the OB coaches her along. They wouldn’t let our midwife in because she yelled at the nursing staff, so it's just me holding Amy's hand and urging her on. And praying. I even joke at one point to offer my help in doing anything to get the baby out.
The OB says we're making progress and gets the vacuum ready. Based on what she's telling us, she's only going to try to vacuum three times and then we're doing a Caesarean. But the vacuum isn't holding any suction and they have to change it two times. The OB keeps encouraging Amy to push and push. The baby's heart rate stays in the safe range.
She pushes and pushes. Two sets of labor and two different experiences in 24 hours – at home and at the hospital. Finally the OB hooks the vacuum up and pulls and pop – she looks startled, falls back and smiles.
"There we go. It was the arm. The baby's arm was up over its head."
The baby's arm was up over its head. Wow.
A second later the baby is out, umbilical cord is cut and the baby is rushed over to a side table and cleaned. Amy's still shaking but smiling. She whispers, "I'd better pay my co-pay." The baby cries. The pediatrician who was in the operating room calls me over to see the baby and identify the sex.
I'm still flying when I see that our baby is a girl – our little Beatrice –7 lbs., 14 oz., 21 inches long…
August 21, 2010
It’s 2 a.m. and I'm standing over the crib stroking Bea's arms to soothe here and I know I have to go.
Beatrice had been up since 1:00 a.m., primarily because of her cold and snotty nose, but also because she knew something was up.
Because our midwives had everything under control with the Mama, it was up to me to tend to Bea if she needed it.
She did. Lots of it. She just couldn't go back to sleep and I had to stay in there so she wouldn't wail. She couldn't hear anything coming from our room; we keep a fan going in there for white noise and have been doing it since before she was born. (We dig it too.)
But she was obviously unsettled and aware of what's coming.
The Mama had been in active labor since around 12:30 and the motion of the womb ocean was climaxing to a category 5 hurricane.
Things were moving fast and I was missing it.
I stroke Bea's arm one more time and whisper: "I love you, baby, but I have to go help Mama."
As soon as I'm in our room, Bryce is entering the earth's atmosphere for the first time, the Mama finding her baby Zen center as contraction after contraction rolled through her.
Now I'm standing behind the Mama on the side of the bed. She grabs my hand with the power of a 10,000 volts, pulls me down towards her on the bed and shrieks:
"Get it out of me!"
That's the final reality of birth, my friends. Guys, we have no idea. Nada. Zip. Imagine passing a hot bowling ball through your urethra.
Mother Mary of God, I think. There's a Bryce coming out of my wife.
You see, the first time with Bea I didn't see. That plan was to be at home as well. If you're interested you can relive Bea's birth story here.
But this one I am seeing, the visual annealing that softens my Y chromosome for an ultimately stronger bond. And then it's done. We're in the moment of tearful Mama holding wet newborn to her breast, the universe expanding our hearts and souls exponentially
All 7 pounds, 8 1/2 ounces, and 20.5 inches of her…
This journey of parenthood is one fraught with challenges and setbacks, as is all of life throughout our lifetimes, and yet one with the potential to be full of love and gratitude. I believe for us, it is this very journey when we come to fully know God, the one who travels with us, always.
So, today I celebrate the Mamas everywhere. God bless you all.
Miss you, Mom. And thank you.