Daughter Serena gave birth to a baby boy on April 15th 2014. My first interaction with the babe occurred just hours after he entered this world. Early in the day, Serena called to give us the news that she was in labor. After waiting in anxious anticipation for the greater part of the day for information about the delivery, I couldn’t wait any longer and made a series of calls to their residence, as she was having a home birth.
Finally about 8PM, Serena picked up the phone and announced that she had delivered a healthy male specimen of the human species. Suddenly and unexpectedly from the background, my ears picked some delicate and unusual sounds.
“Is that the baby?”
“Yes it is. He is already quite vocal.”
To communicate, I made some equally unusual sounds, as is my specialty. It could be imagination or wishful thinking, but it seemed as if my new grandson responded in kind. Delighted with this interaction based in sound, I was immediately bonded with this fresh visitor to our fair planet.
Neither touch nor sight joined us, but unintelligible auditory signals. As one creature to another, we communicated in primal fashion to acknowledge each other’s existence.
“Welcome.” “Glad to be here.” “So happy you made it.” “Relieved to be outside the dark cave.” “You’ve chosen a great body with loving parents.” “I know. That’s why I’m so happy.”
I might be reading a little into these grunts and coos, but that’s what they said to me.
After getting the news, airplane reservations were made. Laurie & I flew up from Santa Barbara to visit our first grandchild in Seattle a day later. Serena and Husband Curt gave the tiny 7-pound bundle of life a big name – Lorence Berkeley Darnell Fulgham. Not quite ready for this lengthy moniker, we call him Baby Lorry amongst other endearments.
Living in their house for 4 days, our initial experience with Baby Lorry was quite intimate and continuous.
Mother Serena: “How does he look?”
“He looks great. Color is good. Healthy vocal chords and he seems quite active. [He is crying and kicking.]”
Serena: “Everything looks good. But he is not nursing yet and has lost more than 10% of his birth weight. Midwives say this may be a warning sign. To get his weight up, I might have to supplement breast milk with formula. Aurgh!!”
Daughter Serena had hoped to go pure natural and already there are complications. For the next few days there are regular weighings that don’t quite make the threshold. Even though the baby seems fine, Serena reluctantly and anxiously employs the dreaded formula as a precautionary measure. Even more aggravating, she must wake Baby Lorry every few hours to feed him to ensure that he doesn’t lose energy and interest. According to the midwives, he can’t afford to shed any more ounces. Four days after the birth, a doctor gratefully affirms that the tiny baby has passed the danger zone, much to the relief of all.
Serena: “Whoa! I was looking forward to the baby coming out, thinking that pregnancy was the hard part. But my relief has been replaced by concern, which has amplified since then. Outside is far more anxiety provoking than inside. ”
“The love and care for your children never ceases.”
Serena: “The emotions are so intense. I had no idea what you went through while raising us.”
“We remember the same innate, hard-wired feelings of love and responsibility for this strange creature that we chose to bring into the world – that shares our gene pool. Get used to it. The intense sense of responsibility for their upbringing only begins to fade after the child leaves home.”
There was a singular feature that struck me being with Baby Lorry 24/7 for 4 days straight. Instead of peace and calm, the natural state of life is emotional turbulence. Judging by his animated facial expressions combined with his unusual array of sounds, it seemed that he went through a continuous stream of emotions from joy with a flicker of a smile to anguish indicated by a grimace in just 30 seconds. These emotions were not related to any outside influence, i.e. hunger, cold or tired, but just came and went like an irregular weather pattern.
Serena: “Scientists have even determined that babies cry in the womb.”
“Amazing! Even though all their needs are taken care of, they are already experiencing positive and negative emotions.”
It is evident that peace and calm are earned, an attainment, not the natural state of affairs at all. Baby Lorry would look relaxed and then his face would suddenly scrunch up into a scowl accompanied by a whimper and then even a cry. Just as rapidly, all the tension would release and he would peer curiously around his new world.
One evening, Baby Lorry was disturbed for no apparent reason. Although he had nursed and was well rested from a long nap, things were not quite right as demonstrated by an accelerating whine. Due to the experience of raising two daughters, one of whom was the mother of this child, Grampa Don whisked the youngster into his arms and immediately went outside.
The delicate cries immediately ceased and were replaced by silence. The clear night sky with all the stars and the glowing moon had captured Baby Lorry’s attention. He gazed in wonder at the firmament above. No more fussing or emotional anguish, just peace and calm as he was soaking it all in – the light breeze, the night smells, the sound of cars and the rustling leaves.
“Whoa! Amazing place that I have entered.”
After 15 minutes or so, we returned inside, Baby Lorry in a state of contentment and ready to nurse. It seems that being outside is a calming feature even at his tender age of a few days. Confinement inside a building is OK for awhile and then the frustration begins to grow. “Something is not quite right. Whimper. Whine. I need to escape from these chains!”
Transported into the open sky, “Ah, freedom! My mind and senses can at last soar to the edges of the universe.”
Natural emotional turbulence and the benefits of being outside: the two lessons, I learned from Baby Lorry in his first few days of life.