Dad is often in my mind and this week has been no different. He didn’t suffer fools easily, had few words, but gave far more of himself to his family and community than he ever received in return. Now days, I think of him often when I read about the grief of infertility and how it is hard to go to baby showers, and see others create families without any apparent struggle.
I think of the grace and strength that dad had every single day, because you see, he was the man who delivered babies, many babies, over many decades, some at home, some in hospital.
At Dad’s memorial service, the number of grown men and women who attended to honor the man that had brought them into the world, and the parents of those babies was heartwarming, so many decades after he retired. The funny stories they shared and how many had been his patients until he retired. They all showed up for the man who had been present with them through some of life’s biggest and hardest moments. It was inspiring to see.
There were many nights dad was out delivering a baby, coming home to grab a few hours sleep, and then off to another long day seeing patients. Some days the waiting room would be filled to overflowing because dad was out delivering a baby, all waiting for his return to see them, before his long day was done.
I got to see a glimpse of what he must have been like at a delivery and wrote this a while back: When I was a child, our very small dog became friendly with the neighbors dog who was two or three times bigger and got pregnant. Dad stayed close during the delivery and when the last pup had trouble, dad took over because it had been too long. I will never forget dads face when he realized the puppy wasn’t breathing, or the automatic reaction he had of giving mouth to mouth resuscitation to that tiny puppy. It seemed like he worked on her for hours and mom kept telling him to let the pup go, but eventually dad’s determination paid off and then he gently laid her down with the other pups to be cleaned, and then nursed, by the mom. I knew Dad delivered many babies during his years as a doctor so it was amazing to see this side of him, and witness his reverence for birth.
As a child, I didn’t understand what mom and dad may have felt – they had us, and we were theirs. A child’s mind that “we” solved the problem. Now, I know that decades later mom still struggles, and I often wonder how dad felt. Was he reminded each time he delivered a babe and had to deal with the grief, or, did the fact that he was part of bringing a child into the world make it easier? A question that will never have an answer because dad is long gone. I do know he never wavered on caring for expectant mothers, or delivering those precious babies. I also know how reverently he held my son, his large capable hands cradling a tiny little one, and the deep pain he felt when my son passed away because he was his grandson, and his daughter was hurting too.