I wrote a poem that has been in the works for a while. Like the subject it covers, I tinkered with it to no end, looking for the right words and structure; looking for the right inspiration. That inspiration finally came Monday morning at 2 am… My oldest daughter Jessica drove all the way out to our house to wake us because we did not pick up. We had fans running all over the house and did not hear the phones (any of them). She burst through the door in the darkness and shouted “Mom, dad, get up… We’re gonna have a baby tonight!” But this story is not about that poem.
There were a lot of unexpected things that night. Sutter was two weeks early, and Tracey, a first time mom, was progressing quickly… defying family history and advice on this matter. By the time I walked into the room it was still early enough in the process that I thought “we have plenty of time”. I stayed long enough to see her experience a contraction and then I took Tracey’s hand, teared up a bit, and told her I had to find some coffee.
So let me be clear — I stayed with Suzanne through the birth of all our children and I’ve seen enough of the waves; of the pain, pushing, blood and emotion; I know I’m not squeamish about most of it. As I learned with my oldest daughter Jessica, I find it hard to hear and see my daughters go through such pain… As with Jessica, I fully expected to be waiting out in the waiting room… waiting!
After I found my coffee, I got up the nerve to go in for one more quick visit. The look on my wife’s face told me it wasn’t going to be as long as we thought. I teared up again (for those of you who have known me for a while, you must certainly know that I’m emotional wimp). As I took Tracey’s hand she caught her breath for a moment between contractions and said something like “Dad, I’m Ok… are you Ok?” I just nodded my head and kissed her hand.
At that moment several medical types bounced and clanked through the room and set up an impenetrable barrier between me and the door. They didn’t seem to notice the panic on my face as they broke out the kits, the buckets and the blankets. I didn’t want to get in their way and I was also concerned… very concerned, about maintaining my vantage point in a part of the room that preserved my daughter’s modesty… for the both of us. So I sat down on the couch in the corner, clasp my hands together and pulled my hat down low (yet another reason I like hats). I’m not particularly religious but I easily had enough faith to say a little prayer with each contraction… I found myself going back to when Tracey was born; it was crazy. Unlike this night, our babies tended to take days, not hours. Tracey was quicker than Jessica but then so was reading “War and Peace”. In thinking back on the birth of our babies I wilt at the strength that Suzanne had summoned in order to endure all those hours of labor (…and yet, I was still allowed to live after all of that). But all the noise, the voices and Tracey’s strength on this night kept leading me to this one vision in my head. When Tracey was born, Suzanne gave those final pushes and her beautiful little head suddenly appeared. The doctor and nurse’s cheers of encouragement were suddenly interrupted by the doctor’s shouts “WAIT!… Stop Pushing”. He placed his hand squarely on the top of Tracey’s head to hold her in place as he worked to untangle the cord from her neck. Now obviously everything worked out just fine, but the vision I’ve was alluding to is this… Most of Tracey’s little body was still in the birth canal, which by the looks of it, is a pretty tight space. Despite this, Tracey took her first full breath and let out a scream… Of course I turned to look at Suzanne as if to say “d-d-did you see that?”. But what I saw was my dear wife, screaming too… and then I look down at Tracey’s head, screaming… Now I like to think of myself as a resilient man but the sight of two heads screaming out from each end of the same body… well that did kind of rattle me.
Suddenly it was Tracey’s turn to push so I shook the vision from my head… again. It wasn’t long until I was peaking up from under my hat to see the doctor getting into position to catch little Sutter. Jessica, Suzanne and Nate were a comforting wall in front of my field of vision. I said one final little prayer, and then I stood up at the moment I heard “There he is”. I saw my grandson take his first breath. It is so amazing; how all of the pain and determination… all of the blood and worries… it is just spectacular how fast it instantly disappears into shouts of joy, tears, love and laughter. I put my hand on Nate’s shoulder as he looked at his new son and said “welcome to the club son”. I got to see my grandson being born, a young man I love and respect deeply become a father, and a daughter who has come full circle with all the strength and grace of her mother.
Like I said, there were a lot of unexpected moments that night.
…And now for the poem.
You may want to ask or maybe not
but you may think…
Which one is my favorite?
You may think you already know
By the way I gaze in awe
at the toil and pleasure of each,
strolling through rows of time wondering…
Which one would I pick?
As I watch with pride how each
can bend so gracefully in the winds
of a harsh and beautiful world…
inching steadily toward the sky
This is what I know!
You are my children
You are my grandchildren
Blossoms known and yet to know
Love given, cultivated, never owned
Compost, sprouts and dirt,
weeds, ferns, moss, by seed or starts…
impatiens, peonies, roses and sun flowers
and the occasional baby’s breath
My favorite Arrangement
To all my loving family on Sutter’s Birthday.
© June 2015 Darrel Boyd