Saturday, February 28, 2009


I had the great pleasure two days ago to watch my granddaughter be born. Her mom's water broke in the morning and after 12 hours of pitocin, a nice epidural and 3-4 sets of pushes by mom, Lelina Amara arrived on the scene. February 26, 2009 at 8:54 p.m. PST.

Lelina is a Pohnpeian word that means beautiful girl. It is pronounced Lel LEE na. I have mispronounced it a number of times with my tin ear for foreign languages. It is not Lay LEE na or Luh LEE na. The Lel part means beautiful and the suffix is the feminine version. Dad and mom picked the name to celebrate granddaugher's Pohnpeian heritage.

Amara, I think, came from a baby name book. It means different things in different cultures. From
Origin: Greek
Meaning:Unfading; eternal
Meaning:Bitter; sour
Meaning: Paradise
Meaning: Immortal, 33; a tree
(ah MAH rah)

Let's hope it turns out to portend eternal or paradise rather than bitter and sour.

The experience of going through this delivery inevitably evoked my own memories of giving birth. I went through the births of my two children without an epidural. One of the labors was 34 hours and the other was about 2 hours of which I was conscious although while I was sleeping the night before my daughter's birth I was dreaming of walking around UCLA and doubling over with menstrual cramps so I probably was in labor while I was asleep. I also had pitocin when I was in labor with my son although he still took his time coming into the world. My daughter on the other hand came so fast that they could not give me any pain killers. Of course, the common wisdom of birthing in the US in the 1980s was to avoid medication if at all possible. Natural childbirth was pushed on you by the nurses and you heard a list of horribles would occur to your child if you took painkillers and an epidural--including that your baby would be a conehead due to the use of forceps because you could not really push! This time the nurses were pushing the epidural saying that they did not believe in having the mom be in pain. And pushing the baby out did not seem to be a problem.

I got to be in the labor room and stay around for the post birth activity --the "skin to skin" contact where they put a naked baby on the mother's unclothed skin for the first hour (and on the father too if he wants. My son declined because he had just gotten a new tattoo on his chest.) Twenty five years ago the Leboyer bath was all the rage and my husband did that with my son. Twenty years ago they whisked my daughter off fairly quickly to be weighed, measured etc and wrapped up as a burrito before I got to hold her. That was fine with me. I listened to Brahms Trio in B Major Op. 8 on a cd player while my obstetrician derided me for not having any good music.
Here's a performance of the first movement (in 2 parts)

I did not get to see much of my own children's birth since I was busy and preoccupied. This time, I sat discreetly in the corner and looked around my son who was helping at the birthing table/chair. The baby popped out and I started to tape it on my FlipVideo which I conveniently got as a gift a few weeks ago for speaking at a conference. I was able to capture the doctor cutting the cord and the nurses cleaning Lelina off as she went to lie on her mom's chest. My husband always said that childbirth was amazing to watch and words cannot capture the experience. Now I know what he means.

As one final piece of irony, I posted pictures from the minutes after the birth on Facebook and Myspace so my friends and family could see them. I restricted access on both sites to my friends only. Myspace sent me a message today that it had deleted one of the photos I had posted as a violation of the TOS. That pornographic newborn picture might be seen by someone under 13! Of course, none of my friends on Myspace (all 15 of them) are under 13. So I am wondering if Myspace uses a skin tone recognition pornography filter which my 2.0 friends tell me does not work very well. I guess they are correct.

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