Part I The Prelude
We were living in Scotland for almost a year when I discovered that I was pregnant. Robert, had been moved to Edinborough by his company to run one factory in Scotland. We were excited. I don’t think either of us had spent time in Europe and we both liked to travel. My daughter was about 9 years old at the time we moved and we put her in a “public” school which is the equivalent of a private school in the states. We lived just outside a little town called Balerno which had once been considered a vacation spot for the people of Edinborough. It wasn’t far enough away from Edinborough to have been considered much of a vacation spot by Americans.
Our home was beautiful. The original owner had been not only a professional soccer player, but also a landscape architect. There were apple trees, flowers blooming at least 9 months of the year, a large strawberry patch, gooseberries, red currants and black currants. Flowering trees, and bushes, a very very old oak tree that my daughter would climb and hide in when she was upset with us. We had a fish pond built out of local rocks and planted with satisfying water plants and mother of thyme growing between the borders of the rocks as well as tiny alpine strawberries. Nearby was a triangular space with lupines along one edge and along another side was some lavender. We also had wild poppies, foxgloves and wild bluebells in the spring and summer.
The wildflowers looked like ones we would be proud to grow here in our gardens. In the front yard we had rhododendrons that never bloomed as long as we lived there and a beautiful rounded garden of lush roses. One day when I was out in the garden, the man who had helped the original owner create all of this beauty, came by to reminisce about the process of its creation…his specialty had been laying out the stones creating stone walls with small niches for plants. Although there were many types and seasonal plants in this little paradise, the whole place seemed as if it had always been there, even the little alpine gardens nestled against the shelves of stone along the path leading outside the back door. There was a small sheltered area for saving potatoes and other winter vegetables through the cold months or for storing wine.
In Great Britain the care during pregnancy was good, but we chose a private doctor anyway. He was experienced and predicted that my second child would be born around October 24th. I was excited and so was my daughter and husband. I continued with my routine. I joined a British Women’s Club that was not focused on traditional interests but was a mix of culture and fun, history and walks. I also participated each year in the Thanksgiving festivities with the “American Wives Club” except for the first year.
Robert met someone who invited us over to their incredible cottage with the traditional cottage garden for a thanksgiving dinner. (The home was so traditional that you can almost see the home and kitchen garden by looking at a picture of a British Cottage and Garden.) The meal was wonderful, and I think it made the three of us a little less homesick. These new friends liked the idea of a holiday based on gratitude, and had celebrated Thanksgiving every year.
My routine was getting Dawn off to school, picking her up, arranging birthday parties, trying to help her with bizarre homework assignments. (We had a special dance called the “—-” dance that we used to excoriate our frustrations with the seemingly impossible requests. One time Dawn had to research a famous Saint in Scotland who is practically unknown anywhere else in the world. The books we had available gave no clues.(Computers were not widespread at the time.)
Life was more traditional than I had ever hoped it would be. Derwin and I travelled. I had begun meditating seriously about a year before we moved. It was liberating to say the least, although around this time, my original Guru died. I felt as if I had been at the Ashram in India while he was dying. He came in a dream and he talked me through the process of his death in a way which was very peaceful. I could go on for a long while, this is just the setting and background, and foundation of my life at that time.
All seemed to be going well. We left my daughter home during one trip because she had difficulty tolerating the conditions of the travel. At about 7 months pregnancy we took a “bargain” cruise (CHEAP, Russian ship registered in Greece and run by a Greek Crew.) We had luxurious bunk beds, an unusable bathroom that leaked all over the cabin, canned foods, and entertainment that could have been used to exterminate all the vermin living there. Not a great choice for a pregnant women with nausea. However we visited multiple Greek Islands, stayed a week on Crete, which was really the highlight of the trip for me, since the Greek Guides are so well trained and knowledgeable and the people in Crete are very friendly.
The Greek men were not particularly kind in those days to an obviously pregnant woman out and about in the world. However Greek women were wonderful, especially the Greek Grandmothers. They would stop me as we walked along the way to some place or other, talk a bit and gave me plums or other bits of food, as if I were supposed to be eating all the time. I took full advantage of the situation and enjoyed the friendly broken communication.
By the way I have it from the best of authorities (Greek tour guides) that the best place to empty your bladder if you are exploring an old ruin is to stoop down behind any wall that is six or more inches in height into a deep knee bend and take care of matters. I would like to meet a very pregnant woman who could accomplish that task gracefully and without being soaked and congratulate her. We went to Rhodes, stopped in Yugoslavia long before their very tragic war. In one city they had an outdoor Shakespeare production every year. We also visited a cloister that was the location of the oldest existing pharmacy.
The trip ended. We were dropped off in Venice for the flight home. We had a short time there, and bought a painting of some houses we had seen along a canal. Another time a few years later, we returned and bought a hand stamped wall hanging in glittering colors of purple/reds greens and blues and silver. It hangs along the stairway now, in our current home.
Autumn was on its way, and all seemed well.
Part 2 Daniel decides the timing, not me, not Robert, or Dawn and certainly not the Doctor.
It was Sept 22, 1983, a night neither my husband or probably my daughter or I will ever forget. I was having early contractions which were not difficult but were a little uncomfortable. It was about 8 in the evening and I was reading about emergency deliveries, ironically enough. I’m the kind of person who tries to mentally prepare ahead of events and had an intuition that I might deliver early. ( My daughter was delivered about about an hour or so after I arrived at the hospital).
Robert and I were a little concerned but not too worried. The contractions were mild. He called the doctor and the doctor didn’t think that we needed to go to the hospital that evening. He reassured Robert with prescient self confidence that “everything will be over soon” and to just relax and go to sleep.
I couldn’t sleep. The contractions increased in frequency and intensity. After about the third call the doctor said to come to the hospital. We decided to let Dawn stay home and sleep. I think we left her a note, as she was probably asleep by then. Robert graciously and at the speed of a superman, collected some items to take with us. Unfortunately none of them proved useful during our adventure. I threw on a dress and stumbled out the door while holding the baby’s head in as we walked out into a cool September night. I tried to tell Robert that I couldn’t walk, but he was so one pointed that it was like communing with the dead. Somehow I managed to slog down the outdoor steps. Instead of a nightgown a blanket or some baby clothes, he brought and old pair of pants (at least they were clean).
I was a ridiculous sight of course and in an absurd state of mind. I was on all fours, soon after entering the car because the baby’s head was beginning to crown, and I couldn’t sit. The back seat was my territory and Robert’s detritus. Being the good father that he is, he was helping by reminding me to breath. I was kicking doors as the contractions grew stronger. He would say breath. For awhile that worked. Then the contractions overcame my resolve and upon one reminder I told him , “You do it, I’m tired.”
Scotland has roundabouts. A piece of circular road that one goes around in. After entering and if not exiting immediately at the next exit, one carefully glides into the center lane. . Sometimes you can go around several times if you are on a busy roundabout and are unable to move back to the outer lane to exit. We were about 30 minutes from the Edinborugh hospital when we started. Rob was hoping that the police would not stop him because he was going about 75 mph. When on a straight road, it seemed like we were creeping along at 20 mph and I would beg him to speed up. When on the roundabouts I would beg him to slow down, even though he was going maybe 5 or 10 miles an hour.
Eventually we arrived at the outer door of the hospital….”.it was a dark and lonely night”. Derwin took a look a me and left the car door wide open and ran up and down the hospital’s corridors screaming for the doctor. I delivered Daniel at about 10:40 GMT and lay alone with him as he smiled into my face. It was serene and although I did attempt to cover him with the pants legs, I was too exhausted to do much.
So I enjoyed his beauty and meditated and felt during that time as if my Gurus had been present with me. It was a peaceful few minutes and I was grateful for my son. He was quiet and smiling. The delivery was easy. Daniel had a head of thick curly hair. We just looked at each other, peace.
This resulted in the only time in my life that we were featured in any newspaper. At least two members of the American Wives Club had children in September and the someone wrote up the events of that night. The other lady, had her child only a few hours before Daniel was born. She later told me that Robert sounded like a heard of elephants going down the halls of the hospital yelling for the doctor. A nurse and a midwife came out to rescue Daniel and me. Before long I was cleaned up and warm in my room, with a beautiful son and an exhausted hero.
born, lived, cried, appreciated, lost, found, lived, laughed, flew in my dreams,
taught others to fly in their dreams, became a telescope reflecting the stars,
dove to the depths of despair ,recovered and walked along the beach as the water escaped from the sea and erased my footprints.
You set the scene beautifully; I love your description of the landscaping around your house, your life in Scotland, and your travels. So your frantic labor and subsequent birth were adventures on top of an adventure. I also love your response to Derwin when he told you to breathe! I was relieved that you and Daniel made it through and had a few moments of peace after your hectic day.
John, thanks for your comments. Yes we loved Scotland and hope to go
back there someday. I was afraid that no one would read this.’There is one person, who asked to hear about the adventure, but I didn’t remember her name .. The house was nice, but the garden was the heart
of the place for me. If we looked out of the back of the house we could see Edinborough perched on hills towards where the sun would set. It is sometimes nicknamed the Athens of the North.
I didn’t think anyone would read this story.