Six weeks after Dad died, our first child was born--Leif, a son. Micki went into labor, and the Mount Vernon Birth Clinic was thirty miles away. Even little bumps on the highway hurt Micki as I sped down Interstate 5. The slightly hoarse and happy voice of the midwife's assistant welcoming us in was very comforting. We were given a bedroom and we got into a large bed together to await the birth of our son. Micki's back pain was so severe that we turned onto our sides and she had me push my fist on the spot, for hours. My arms became sorer and sorer until somehow they gained new strength, and I believe I could have pushed indefinitely. Micki and I had taken classes in the Bradley method of childbirth. Unlike the Lamaze method of rapid and controlled breathing to try to escape the situation, the Bradley method has the mother accept the situation and go through it as relaxed as possible. It's how mammals do it.
But the birth turned out to be terribly difficult. Micki was getting tired of pushing and the baby wasn't coming out. Eventually our son's life was in danger, and the midwife brought out the extractor. This tool seemed medieval to me. Simply described, they stick a big suction cup on the baby's head and pull him out by a chain. I had taken classes with Micki in order to help her, to coach her, when the time came; but instead Micki politely told me to butt out. She wanted to concentrate on the birth, not listen to me. So, I grabbed the camera and stood at the foot of the bed to watch and take pictures of the miracle of birth.
When the baby was far enough through the canal, the extractor was taken off, and I unconsciously lowered the camera and stared. The top of his head was coming into view, then more appeared, and I was horrified to see that instead of a face, there was just wrinkly skin with some hair on it! A monster was being born! Not wanting to unnerve Micki, I tried to smile and look positive, as if I were seeing something beautiful. I was a great actor! But I was an ignorant actor. I thought the first view was of the top of our son's head rather than the point, the crown, of it. And so what I thought was his face was actually the top of his head. Suddenly his entire head popped out, and he looked wonderfully normal. The rest of him came out relatively easily and quickly, and soon there was a family of three lying peacefully in the bed.
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