At 9:00pm on August 24th, while rising from the dinner table just a day before due, her water broke.i
At 11:00pm, her labour began, and at 6:00am the following morning, after a mostly sleepless night, surely the first of many over the weeks and months to come, the intensity had increased to the point where our doula was called by our place to assess the situation. With our doula’s calm guiding hand, by 8:00am, the contractions had all but ceased. Damn it, she’d relaxed too much!
At 1:00pm, eager to pick up where we left off, we drove to our Ukrainian-Israeliii midwife’s office at the Lucina Birth Centre.iii A pungent, rotten-looking verbena cocktailiv and a spine-archingly uncomfortable “stretch-and-sweep”v later, and we were back at home, the contractions now returning with life-affirming strength and renewed gusto. We were back on track!
At 5:00pm, labour now in full swing, our doula returned. At 8:00pm, our midwife – the heavy artillery – arrived at our home for the first time. At 10:00pm, things were progressing steadily, presenting us with a pivotal decision to make. Our original plan to birth at the Sturgeon Country community hospital was kaiboshed because renovations were underway and the temporary replacement rooms were too small to accommodate the not-inconsiderably-sized birthing pool the mother-to-be was so keen on making use of, leaving the Sovietesque Royal Alexandra hospital as the only alternative venue whereat our midwife had admitting priveleges.vi Our original plan, however, was based on needing that medical parachute – that emergency safety net available just down the hall.
But as we were finding, the heir apparent was moving safely and happily into position, the risks appeared to be minimal, and we couldn’t possibly imagine being more comfortable and in control than we were. No fan of the iatrogenicists in white lab coats, I wasn’t about to push a move to the hospital if it wasn’t medically necessary, so when the midwife offered to grab her birthing gear from the car, and after a quick weighing of pros and cons with the mother-to-be, we agreed to a home birth.
Had you asked us 48 hours before this moment whether we would’ve considered such a thing, much less the water birth that we ended up having, and we would’ve given you a sigh and a cookie-cutter story about “risks” and “what ifs” while openly envying parents who were bold enough to do what we weren’t,vii just as most any other over-schooled upper-class Canadian parents-to-be, particularly those with medical professionals in the family.
Once we’d made the decision, however, our eyes were opened to the first-class luxury, the unbridled progressviii – which is to say the complete control of variables – and the absolute five-star decadence offered by a home birth. Does the mother-to-be want a fresh banana soymilk smoothie ? How about some fresh edamame bean spaghetti with bbq’d chicken for the father-to-be ? How about some homemade raw seed bars for our support team ? Well, if having a full fridge of delicious treats readily at hand isn’t persuasive enough, surely having two full bathrooms, two bedrooms (one with real desktop computers and a full dead tree library), as well as a living room complete with couch, Dutalier gliding chair, and a birthing pool must sound pretty damn desirable. Let me tell you : it is !! As such, if you’ve had a baby at an economy-class hospital in the last 30 years, you have no idea what you’re missing.ix
Needless to say, at 2:32 am on Wednesday, August 26th, in a bath of water and a pool of bodily fluids, Niko Dushenski was born at a perfectly reasonable 8 lbs 12 oz (4 kgs) and an entirely unreasonable 23.25″ (59 cm) in length.x
In my lap as I pen this story, this blonde (!) beauty has the barrel-chested build of Atlas, the Sumerian strength of Gilgamesh,xi and the stoic solidity of Samson.xii “Brick shithouse” was the first descriptor that came to mind as I pulled him out of his airless echo chamber and into the world. That he’s already starting to lift his head a bit, particularly to reposition his airway as he gargles and gasps, doesn’t surprise me in the slightest.xiii So not only will there be no “accidental infanticide,” but even the warring Spartans of Ancient Greece couldn’t have brought themselves to expose this little tyke right off the get-go, so how could an all-around nice guy like me ?
Now, I’ll try not to lose my Lordly edge too much here, and my natural disposition certainly gives me an advantage in this regard, but we all know that, from that fateful morning onwards until my dying breath, a wasp husk is me.xiv
You are so strong, Niko, Niko
You are so long, Niko, Niko
You are so blonde, Niko, Niko
Of you I’m fond! Niko, Niko
(repeated infinite times)
___ ___ ___
- Oh, you thought I was a bachelor or a pimp or something ? Like what, men can’t have families and still put a ding in the universe now ? What sort of holocaust-denying racialists are you people ??!!1 [↩]
- I.e. perfect. [↩]
- Midwives in Alberta used to be a $4k-a-pop luxury item but they’ve recently come under the “legitimising” purview of Alberta Health Services, that bureaucratic disease industry monopoly. In praxis, this means that the ~100 midwives in the province are not for sale at any price, there’s just… a waiting list. So if you’re lucky, you’re lucky, and if not, too bad so sad. Y’know like for a
TrabantTesla or a rent-controlled apartment in Soviet Moscowlatter-day New York.
Doulas, being only trained with a weekend course (compared to the highly competitive 4-year baccalaureate program for Canadian midwives) are still on the market for about $400, a price that works out to not much more than $20/hr all told, which, for an experienced professional in a “post-industrial” economy is basically the deal of the century. [↩]
- Feel free to look this one up. [↩]
- Feel free to look this one up too. [↩]
- A midwife having “admitting privileges” means that, other than the hospital check-in, no other interaction with front-line medical staff is required. To be sure, the less anyone has to deal with those impatient and unreasonably risk-averse pushers of painkillers and surgical intervention, the better! [↩]
- Funnily, this is little different than spandrell envying my boldness in other domains. But frankly, a small community hospital with a midwife, a doula, and zero front-line medical staff really did seem like the best of all possible worlds. Unfortunately, like Pangloss, we had no idea how good life could actually be! [↩]
- Yes, this does mean that childbirth-as-a-life-event in 1665 Europe was ahead of where it was in 1965 America. While this is the case 99% of the time, if not more, there’s little argument that childbirth-as-a-medical-condition is light-years ahead of where it was half a century ago. [↩]
- Very much like if you’re still deploying “Bitcoin Core” in battle, stashing your hard-earned cash in inflatable fiat stocks, or taking orders from customer service reps. [↩]
- Niko is so named for my Gido, Nikoli Dushenski, whose notable achievements I’ve previously covered.
As to his formidable length, the longest the midwife or doula had ever seen in fact, he’s already in the top 1% of baby boys born in this part of the world. The latest figures show that the mean length is ~52 cm with the standard deviation of ~2.5 cm. To many more top one-percents ! [↩]
- “Gilgamesh,” or “Gil” for short, was perhaps not coincidentally his fetal nickname. What, you’ve never nicknamed a fetus before ? You should try it. “Baby” is so unoriginal. [↩]
- This one is far more likely to be the bully than be bullied. [↩]
- Niko’s strength and physical build seriously put mine to shame. I have to work my ass of for my meager physique. Without deliberate and concerted effort, I wouldn’t be able to do two full chin-ups. That I can do 11 chin-ups, 40 push-ups, and plenty besides is a testament to practise, practise, and more practise – and nothing more. [↩]
It is the absolute, unavoidable job and duty of the parent to become that wasp out of whose dead body its larvae eat. And the wasp must be dead, make no mistake about it, the parent must give away his life, all of it. Not most of it, not a great portion of it, not “as much as necessary”. Everything. Every last bit and strand of it, altogether, completely. For no return and with no consideration, humbly and unapologetically, it’s what he’s for. Exactly like any thing – which is what parents are, things, ex-human beings that meanwhile succumbed to their own biology just like any other corpse – exists for its function, just like the mug holds coffee and the paper towel soaks it up should it spill. It’s what it is. ~MP
- “Niko, Niko” is pronounced, in gentle rhyming song, as “Nikonikoh.” [↩]