A f’ortnight ago I wrote that my daughter was awaiting ‘imminently’ her first child. That turned out to be optimistic. Claudia Paige finally made her appearance yesterday afternoon, two weeks late and some 40+ hours after the onset of the first contractions.
It’s been quite an ordeal for my daughter (and, presumably for hers too), but evrybody is now well and contented. I feel as thnough I ougth to be writing something profounded on birth, but will pass on that. I don’t do profound today.
What I would like to share is some rather slighter observations on the contrast between the experiences of Robynn as mother, and Robynn’s own birth some years ago. These are, I think, substantial and welcome.
The most dramatic difference is in the power of modern communications. Early on, Robynn and Armin set up a ‘SprogBlog’ on which the prospective parents set down and shared their thoughts and feeling on this new looming transformation of their lives. I imagine that the simple process of writing will have been helpful to them – writing usually is- but from my point of view, it enabled friends and family from across the globe to ?follow the progress, and to remain in touch and informed right up through the last difficult days. Technology also had an impact right after the birth – proud daddy was there to take some pics and a short video, which have already been posted on flickr for all affecte`daughter. More, he was present not only for the birth, but throughout the buildup, and will be at home with them for the first couple of weeks on paternity leave. This option was simply not availalbe to me when I was a new Daddy. Add this to the involving, bonding effect of the blogging exercise, and it is likely that his accumulated ‘fathering’ effect is vastly ahead of where I was when Robynn herself was born – and as a (closeted, but still ‘sensitive’ ) gay man I was far more in touch with the experience and its emotions than other men of my generation would have been.
Also markedly different has been the role of the hospital itself, and their place relative to the home and family. Well before the birth, both parents visited for orientation and acclimatisation (not to mention the fairly standard ante-natal preparation). After birth, baby was immediately placed in a little cot next to Mom’s bed, with immediate access for caressing and fondling by both parents. This is awfully far removed from the days when new fathers closest contact was a distant view through a glass window, into a room full of infants in cots. In my day, I thought I was being terribly progressive just because I was present in the delivery room – but did not get anything like this up close and personal. After delivery, Robynn was kept in overnight for ‘observation’ as it had been such a protracted ordeal, but had it been more routine, she might have sent home the same day. Again, a far cry from the days when Moms were kept in the maternity home for several days rest and recovery time.
Of course, one of the reasons why ‘rest’ was associated with nursing was that there used to be less expectation that Mom could go home, and be attended to by Dad, instead of going home to resume housework chores, or the care of other children. So, this is just another sign of the changed role for fathers in the parenting process.
All in all, a very different world for new parents – and to my mind, a much more human one.
Now excuse me, while I retreat for another teary gush over my new granddaughter’s pics.
Absorbed in the personal, in my ruminations on the increased role for fathers I completely overlooked the observation that this birth occurred on the feast of St Joseph – upheld in his Mass on that day as a role model for fathers.