Lamaze Partner

I was standing outside St. John’s Hospital, watching my father get interviewed on TV by a local news anchor.

His career had taken a definite upturn in the last few years, often getting interviewed on the news for his take on issues with this drug or that food emergency.  His position at the Food and Drug Administration downtown gave him a unique perspective on what the government was doing to protect our food supply and ensure drugs were moving through the bureaucracy at the right pace.  Too quickly and you approved a drug that later caused problems; not quick enough and you were denying sick people what they needed to survive.

My father’s anger and fear regarding my pregnancy had all but disappeared.  In fact, my mother would say later, it was my teenage pregnancy that finally pulled them back together as a parental unit, agreeing to put aside their past differences to figure out how best to help me do all that I wanted to:  have my child, take care of it, finish college and begin a career.  My goals were firm and concrete, and perhaps my determination to attain them regardless of the size of my belly persuaded my father that this might not be the end of the world.

When Joe told me he couldn’t attend Lamaze classes with me, I didn’t know what to do.  Everyone knew you needed a labor partner.  Who was I going to ask to be my support person?  The baby was due in late August, when most of my friends would be either back to college or busy going to their local schools.

It was my mother who actually suggested I ask my father to be my Lamaze partner.  She thought it would be helpful to him to be invested in the process, that it would help him start to view the pregnancy as his new grandchild as opposed to a problem that needed to be solved.  She knew she couldn’t stomach being there for the birth without wanting to get the doctors to knock me out and rid me of any pain, but she knew that my father had always wanted to be present at our births (mine was the only one that he had the chance to be at, but my mother crowned as he was signing insurance papers).  She thought he would form a special bond with my child having been there for the birth.

My father agreed, slowly warming to the idea that his youngest daughter was making him a grandfather before he turned fifty.  And that was how we happened to be in front of the hospital that evening.  My father had asked the reporter to meet him there that evening, because the half an hour before class was the only free time he had that day.  I was impressed that he didn’t ask me to hide in the lobby or the car as he did his interview; he proudly introduced me to the anchor and told her that he was here because he was going to be my labor coach.

We’d come a long way from the angry, stilted conversations held during family therapy.  We might still not be a normal family, but at least we were here for each other.


2 Responses

  1. […] begged me to abort the pregnancy.  Later, though, he fully accepted the pregnancy and actually served as my Lamaze partner for the birth.  He too had babysat whenever he was asked, had helped me find my first teaching job and had […]

  2. […] like.  My father had literally been there since the moment this boy was born; he’d been my Lamaze coach.  He’d watched this young man come into the world, take his first breaths.  He’d been […]

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