The Ecphorizer

The Risks of Homebirth
Rita Laws

Issue #65 (April 1987)

A lot of folks will tell you a story and swear that it's true when it isn't. But you can believe it when I tell you this really happened. I know because my midwife told it to me. And I know the mother, too. The names have been changed to protect the red-faced.

Seems Sara really wanted

...the infant wailed a continuous and sorrowful wail.

to have a daughter this time. Her little boy wanted a sister. James wanted to name the baby Agnes. When it was born, the midwife, a young woman named Thea, wrapped the baby up quickly and handed the bundle to Sara so [quoteright]as to tend to the placenta.

Later, Thea inquired as to the gender of the child. "Boy," said the mother wistfully and with just a trace of disappointment in her voice, "but a fine beautiful boy."

They named him Jerrod and said the name over and over to get used to the sound of it. It was such a surprise, after all. So sure had they been that Jerrod would be Agnes, they had not even discussed male names during the pregnancy.

It was then that the baby began to cry and would not stop. He would not nurse at Sara's breast, his big brother's favorite toy could not hold his interest, and even Grandma's kiss had no effect. James held the baby against his broad shoulder and walked him through he house whispering father-son secrets, but still the infant wailed a continuous and sorrowful wail.

Finally the midwife asked to weigh him. The portable "fish scales" were readied and the birth blanket removed. Thea caught her breath at the sight of the baby but Sara saw the look on her face.

"What is it?" Sara nearly screamed. Her imagination pictured the worst. "What is wrong with our baby?!"

The midwife tried valiantly but unsuccessfully to suppress the laughter welling up inside of her. She hooked her hands under the baby's armpits and lifted the child into the air for all to see. She lifted a healthy naked GIRL. Sara had only glimpsed the baby at birth beneath the blanket and had mistaken the umbilical cord between her legs as something else entirely.

James quickly renamed his child and every member of the family welcomed Agnes and bid Jerrod goodbye. The baby's crying ceased right away and she nursed quietly and contentedly for a good long time. 

RITA LAWS, who is raising eight children, is coordinator of the Mensa Adoption and Breastfeeding Special Interest Groups.

More Articles by Rita Laws

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