"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Birthday thoughts of a firstborn


We headed into the rising sun on the rural highway toward the hospital 35 miles away.
Her labor had started in pre-dawn darkness, but we waited until the contractions were five minutes apart.  We’d been up late the night before, playing board games with good friends, and joking tomorrow would be a good day to have a baby.
In Iowa, the ripening corn fills the valleys between the rolling hills with mist, and the morning sun turns it golden. The highway dipped down into the mist and back up again as the little Volkswagen plugged along, pushed as fast as I could go. I don’t remember the conversation, but I’ll remember that morning forever.
Once my wife was in the delivery room at the hospital, the redheaded Irish doctor told me to put on a white nursing robe and mask: “Come in here, you’re responsible for this,” he said.
I went in and sat down on a chair as the birth neared. I don’t remember much about that either, except praying for my wife as her cries of pain increased, and for my first born, for her health and for his normalcy.
Then, in an instant, the cries of a new baby replaced the  mother’s cries of pain. I knew then that every birth is a miracle.
That was years before ultra sound and knowing what sex the baby was, and when they let fathers in the delivery room. The Catholic doctor ordering me in there said it was his method of birth control. In our case, it didn’t work, because that baby would have a sister and two brothers to join him later.
I remember a few days later, taking him and his mother home from the hospital, with  no car seats to strap him in, just a small portable bassinet in the back seat. We headed toward home, but I pulled over a few blocks from the hospital, and turned around and just stared at my son.
I remember details on the births of our other children, but not in as much detail and emotion as the first born. I know his mother has her own memories of each of them.
What do you remember about your first born’s birth?
I would have liked to ask my mom and dad their memories of the day I was born on cold January in Dallas long ago, but didn’t, and can’t. That’s lost forever. And I wonder, about 100 years ago in Comanche and in East Texas, what my grandmothers and grandfathers remembered of the births of their children. I’ll never know.
But at least my son, Master Sergeant Vance Conrad Clark, USAF, who has three children of his own, will know, on this the day we headed into the rising sun in Iowa 44 years ago.


1 comment:

  1. How fun to discover this account while trying to track down my old church friend, VCC ... I knew that searching his whole name likely would turn up something! I used to keep track of him via occasional news from Dallas back when she and I were part of the same N.C. congregation, but now that I'm back in Texas, I have no clue of his news other than to know he did finally get married (and now I know they have 3 kids :). If you will tell him that Andrea from Lake Highlands says "hi," he will know who you mean. Blessings on you and yours -- I know he's been at least as proud of his dad as you are of your son.

    P.S. You can also tell him that if he uses Facebook, the easiest way to find me is to look up my mom or dad, then check their friend lists. (I joined FB while teaching, so I have listed myself under a nickname rather than my maiden or married names!)

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