A Farmboy and Fatherhood
I have been at the birth of two of my children. The first miracle is the miracle of birth; the second is that I’m still alive after the first time. Before I was allowed anywhere near the hospital for the birth of our second I had to swear a solemn oath, more sacred than the one I swore at our wedding, that I would behave.
I left school when I was 15 and went to work on farms. I travelled quite a bit, even as a teenager, around Wales and Scotland. I learned a lot about farming, mostly cattle and sheep, a little with horses and some with pigs. I was also around to help with the birthing, so seeing a woman have a baby was nothing to me; after all, I’d helped with the birthing of all kinds of animals so how different could it be. A word here to any young man who may be as naïve as I was, women can be very cranky when they are in labor. I’ve helped some fussy animals in my time, I nearly was kicked more than once by a mare and I nearly got my hand bit off by a bitch I was being helpful to but women have them all beat.
My wife and I both got married late in life. Due to circumstances I am sure were beyond my control I found myself in California, married and waiting the birth of our first child. A year and seven days after our wedding the moment arrived. We went off to the Kaiser Permanante hospital on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles where I was told I could be in attendance for the birth. It had been many years since I had worked on the farm but I was sure my birthing skills had not deserted me.
For the city folk who may be reading this I should explain that four legged animals are born with their front hooves coming out first followed by the head between the shoulders. Sometimes the mother has trouble giving birth so it becomes necessary to tie some twine around the young ones hooves and gently ease it on out. So I told the doctor I would be proud and happy to help and if he would pass me the ball of twine I’d stand by, ready to give it the old Heave-Ho. This offer of assistance did not find favor with my wife who was threatening to make room on Earth for a new human by getting rid of an old one. Like I said, cranky.
Well, it seems that the poor dear was having a very difficult time of it and after about three hours of struggling the doctor decided she would have to have a cesarean. I wasn’t happy about that but I understood that what has to be done should be done. My mind went back to my farm days and how I would help the vet with this procedure. The mother would be injected with Novocain prior to the operation. A four legged animal cannot rise to its feet if its head is held to the ground. I would hold her down while the vet performed the cesarean. The doctor quickly informed me that it would not be necessary in this case, my wife only having two legs and the ability to understand that she is to lie still.
In the hospital room I was doing my best to comfort her. The poor thing was wired everywhere. There was a blood pressure monitor, a heart monitor, Demerol was being fed into her and an I V and I’m not sure what else while preparations were being made. I was standing over her, holding her hand and doing my best to be comforting when she muttered something. She was drugged up and I couldn’t hear it so I just said;
“It’s alright love, I’m here you don’t have to worry.” Then she muttered something again, I took a wild guess at what she was saying and I replied;
“I know and I love you too” She kept on muttering so I leaned down close and said “What is it you’re trying to say?” She said
“You’re standing on the I V”
It came time at last to go into the operating room and I was there like a trooper cheering her on. “You are doing great” I said cheerily. “So you’re a doctor now?” was the reply. Like I said, women are cranky around times like this.
There was a program on television around this time called “Chicago Hope” and in that the surgeons always played music in the operating theatre. I was looking forward to some Rock and Roll, though I was willing to accept heavy metal. I was surprised that there were no sounds. As I was mentioning this to the doctor my wife, in her drug induced state, was saying “I can’t believe he said that”
Finally our son was born, a fine healthy boy. My wife asked me if it was a boy and I replied, with admiration in my voice “Hell yeah! He’s born with a bigger one than my grandpa died with.”
The wife, the kids, and me.
He’s a fine healthy boy today; he’s taller than me, well educated and a good son. The other day he came home with his school report card. He had an “A” in everything but a “B” in English. I told him I was very proud of him. No Welsh boy should ever get more than a “B” in English.