Adventures in Midwifery

Whenever I tell anyone that I delivered each of my three children, I get an odd look. When my wife, Barbara, became pregnant with our first child, she was determined to have the child delivered in a birthing-room, which was a novelty at the time. For those unfamiliar with this term, a birthing-room is different than the usual room where one gives birth at a hospital. Instead of the cold, clinical room where this event usually takes place, a birthing-room, which is also in a hospital, has a regular bed, an easy chair or couch, a television, and perhaps a refrigerator. The idea is to make the person giving birth as comfortable as possible. Unfortunately for us, the nearest hospital that had a birthing room was in the next state, two and one-half hours away. During the drive to the first visit with the obstetrician, I was informed that this doctor was famous for allowing expectant fathers to be present during the birth. I figured that being present during the birth was the least I could do. During the meeting that we had with the doctor, he asked if I wanted to deliver the child, with him present. This was a new concept that he was trying to foster. His rationale was that the mother carried the baby, gave birth to it, fed it, and the inevitable result was that mother and child would naturally bond. By having the father deliver the child, the father is expected to feel that he has been part of the process, and consequently, bond with the infant and child better than if he had not. The doctor asked me if I was interested. I said I would do it because the due date was so distant that I thought that they would forget that I had said I would. They didn’t. I told my mother what I was going to do and she told me that when she was giving birth, my father hid in the woods. When I told my father, he said I was crazy.

Because of the distance from the hospital to our home, I was given books on emergency child birth. I studied them. We took Lamaze classes. Lamaze is intended to involve the father in the pregnancy and make the birthing process easier for the mother. I’ll tell you now that it didn’t work for Barbara. Pain-killers would have worked, but she had planned on a drug-free birth.

One day after work Barbara told me that she was having contractions and that it was time to drive to the hospital. Actually, she had been having contractions all day and had waited for me to get home. We made the drive to the hospital, settled into the room, and as she was having the very painful contractions, I tried my Lamaze skills out. Either Lamaze doesn’t work or I was doing something wrong. I blame it on the former. I did my best to comfort her, but it didn’t help. I confess that I spent the rest of the night watching old World War I movies on the television in the room. She had contractions all night. There was much screaming and every now and then a nurse would come in, or my wife would send me to get the nurse, who would come in, take a look and say that it wasn’t time yet. If there had been woods nearby, I would have made a run for it. In the hours just before dawn, it was finally time. The doctor showed up and told me to put on a gown, scrub my hands and follow his instructions, which I did.

After the head emerged, he said that the umbilical cord was wrapped around the infant’s neck, and he guided me through unwrapping it, and we finally had the successful birth of a boy. I have failed to mention that my wife is as tough as nails. After a couple of hours she announced that it was time to go home and we did. On the way, we stopped beside a stream; she sat on a rock and held the new baby while I took a picture. The baby’s name was Mark.

For the second child we went to the same hospital and used the same doctor. When it was time, my brave wife told me that it was time to go and we drove to the hospital. We were told that the old birthing room was taken and we were steered to a newer birthing room. When it was time to give birth, the doctor and two nurses showed up. One of the nurses pushed a few buttons and panels slid back in the ceiling and flood-lights emerged. Hidden panels slid back in the walls and trays came out. What had been a bedroom turned into an operating room. For everyone but Barbara, it was a fairly easy birth. I had brought a tape player and played the song “Isn’t She Lovely” by Stevie Wonder right after the birth and the nurses started crying. It’s the song that he wrote after the birth of his daughter. After a little while they wanted to take the infant out of the room to take foot-prints and blood samples. Barbara insisted that I not let the baby out of my sight, so I followed a nurse around the hospital and made sure that the same baby that had left the room was the same baby that came back. After a two hour nap, Barbara insisted on going home, so we did. We stopped at the same stream as previously, Barbara sat on the same rock and held the baby while I took their picture. This baby’s name was Elizabeth.

For our third child, Barbara decided to use a midwife and have the baby at home. The closest one lived over an hour away. During a snowstorm in the middle of winter, in the middle of the night, Barbara announced that it was time. She called the midwife who arrived two hours later with a nurse in tow. In the meantime, I was told to take the other two children to their grandmother’s house. My wife had told the midwife that I would be performing the delivery. This did not sit well with the midwife. She tried to get me out of the way by making me ill. She said that if you fried the afterbirth with onions, it tasted great. I turned green and got nauseous, but I didn’t leave the room. I delivered that baby too. His name was Erich.

Here’s what I learned. My wife is a very, very tough person. If men had to suffer through pregnancy and give birth, no children would be born. Finally, if you have a chance to be present during the birth of a child, do it.

Curt Struna

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Notes of Love

Recently, my 7-year-old daughter made a mailbox out of paper and taped it to the outside of her room. I began using this as an opportunity to send her notes of love and encouragement. So, at various times of the day, without her seeing me, I would sneak a note into her mailbox. That night, I put in a note for her to find in the morning. I awoke the next morning with my daughter jumping on my bed saying, “How did you do it Mommy? I got a letter from you in the night!”

Excited, she busied herself in making a paper mailbox for me, taping it to the outside of my room. And the written communication began in earnest. Notes of love continued through the week.

Two days ago, I bought her a small toy while we were out shopping together. We came home and after supper, she quickly disappeared saying, “Don’t come into my room, Mommy.” Knowing that she was working on some little project, I busied myself washing the dishes and cleaning up. Excitedly, my daughter then appeared saying, “There’s a letter in your mailbox!” And as we went to my mailbox together, I could see a rolled up piece of blue paper sticking out.

Unrolling the paper, I read her crayoned message: “Dear Mommy, I love you. Thank you for the toy. But just becuse you got me a toy dose not mane I love you more than I did be for. I could never tell you how much I love you.”

Tears welled up in my eyes as my precious girl flung her arms around me in a big hug.

As I stood there enjoying the embrace of my daughter, I was reminded that our Heavenly Father also receives such joy when we offer our love to Him with the excitement and simplicity of a child.

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Loving Summer

I think summer is the by far the best time of the year! Not just because the weather is warm and the days long. I love it because my daughter is home all day long. Now, for some people that may not be exactly a good thing but I really believe it is a matter of perspective. In the grand scheme of things, we have these children for such a short time. I want to enjoy and appreciate every moment. Sometimes that means playing a video game I don’t necessarily want to play. Sometimes it means watching a show I don’t necessarily want to watch. But if watching that show or playing that game gives me a moment where my daughter snuggles up close to me… I’ll take it every time. You see, I know and accept that there will come a day (all too soon) when she will be too old for snuggling and video games with dad. She will be talking on the phone and focused on her social life and that is how it should be I guess. I just don’t want to look back with any regrets… longing for a time when she wanted to be with me but I was too busy. Summer allows me this time more than ever and that is why it is my favorite time of the year!

One safety note that is just as applicable in summer as during the rest of the year.  Our children will face more and greater risks/threats out there than ever before.  It can leave us feeling overwhelmed and helpless.  Luckily technology has provided a way to mitigate much of the risk to our children by helping us directly identify the exact individuals that should not be associated with them to begin with.  Online background check sites (the good and reliable ones at least) can help you learn tons of information such as criminal records or even a quick nationwide sex offender registry check.  There is a wealth of information you can access in a single report and it can be done online, anonymously and it is completely legal.  Prices for the background check itself costs a minimum of $14.95 but can also be a bit higher depending how deep of a search you wish to perform.  I use http://www.CompleteReviews.net to help me find the best possible background checks on the market today. They conduct in-depth testing on all the major background check providers and then recommend the best options.  They will also answer any questions you might have related to background checks.

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When You Lose Your Way as a Parent

Like coal miners, parents plunge deep into dark and untrammeled spaces, searching for nuggets of goodness and truth along the way. And sometimes, like coalminers, we get lost. We hit a dead end. And the canary chirping happily in it’s swinging cage, goes silent.

This summer, I lost my way as a parent. Between moving and leading a top-to-bottom renovation of our new apartment, between writing grant applications and taking care of legal issues related to my nonprofit, I took a few wrong turns, caught up in the To Do’s and Didn’t Do’s scratched onto my notepad. Thankfully I have not one, but two canaries on my shoulders. When they stopped tweeting, I knew it was time to pause and reevaluate. « Continue reading »

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Today, I Married My Son

It was a sweet and simple ceremony.

Perhaps it was the beauty of the day with its cool pre-summer breeze and sunny afternoon , but most likely it was the picking of the pretty yellow flowers in the backyard that prompted the sudden proposal. “Mom, let’s get married,” he said holding the big bunch of yellow beauties. A few days before, I had noticed the shock of yellow in the corner of our backyard that we refer to as “the swamp”. I knew it was some kind of weed, but I had no idea the magnitude of it until I was right up on it. It grew high and had coiled, thick, purplish vines with the sweetest little yellow flowers with orange centers. I had asked Riley about coming with me to cut the flowers and he happily agreed. We grabbed a scissors from the kitchen and meandered our way to the swamp avoiding doggy land mines to reach the mammoth weed. He didn’t know, nor did he care what it was, he was just as enamored with the yellow flowers as I was. And, I suppose, that is was prompted his desire to wed. So, there it was, actually the third proposal of my life (but that’s another whole story!) and I thought, do I decline? « Continue reading »

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While Like A Giant, Proud And Happy

Tonight I am up late… remembering.  I love the power of memory as it intertwines with emotion to form a temporary reality.  In quiet solitude, this gift of memory allows me to sit for awhile with my mother who passed away many years ago.  It gives me glimpses into moments I will forever cherish and allows me to relive past experiences that define the meanings of my life.  Tonight an open window in my mind has taken me back to a very special place where I learned a new meaning to the word “love”… « Continue reading »

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Things I’ve Learned as a Young Mother

Things I’ve Learned As A Young Mother

Sound effects are a useful tool in motivating young children to do what you want them to do. Ive learned All body actions can have a coordinating sound effect and that sometimes when your finally around grown up’s the occasional sound effect may come out.

Sponge Bob promotes creepy laughter in small children. « Continue reading »

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What Makes a Great Mother or Father? The Little Things

When I was in my twenties, my gaze was always focused on the big things—finding the “perfect” partner, the “to-die-for” job, the “huge” book deal, or getting into the “best” graduate school. Little things didn’t matter much; they were unnecessary distractions that I treated as rounding errors. I either ignored them or focused on what came before or after. Looking back, I can see that how deeply I was affected by films and operas. I was always waiting for the sweeping climax that would bring resolution, on a grand scale, to my life. I was young and eager to fit together the largest pieces of the puzzle of life, foolishly believing that the remaining bits didn’t matter. « Continue reading »

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Letting Go

Little shoes, little clothes and a huge Mickey Mouse backpack. She is ready to go to school. We get in the car and already I feel a little sad because she will not be with me today. I won’t hear her little laugh and see that priceless smile. I won’t have any owies to fix or hugs to give. I won’t have my little girl sitting on my lap listening to a story or two. We won’t be snuggling in front of a TV show or having a little snack together. « Continue reading »

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More Changing of Seasons

Today I’m going to talk about changing seasons.  I believe that I am qualified to be your own personal control group, having 6 children ranging from 3 to 22 and a 1 year old grandson.  Yep, we’ve got ‘em all.  With that said, let’s touch on that sleep deprivation topic, you know the one, the “gotta find coffee, Fred Flintstone propping up those toothpicks to hold open the eyelids, punchy, drop into bed unable to move” type of lack of sleep. « Continue reading »

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