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HARRIET BERKAL: WHEN PUSH COMES TO SHOVE

June 23, 2022

 

 

I remember becoming a new mom at the ripe age of 31. Fast forward 31 years and now I am preparing to become a baba for the first time.

 

The first rule of being an expectant grandmother is to stay in your lane. This isn’t your baby. It’s your daughter's. She will want to raise this child in her own manner. So it’s so important to allow her that privilege, as she is the carrying vessel this go round. Things have changed a great deal since I had her vacuum extracted.

 

I remember when I was induced in 1990, and had a very set birthing plan of securing an epidural. I was induced at 42 weeks. She just had zero intentions of ever leaving the womb.

 

The induction took rapidly and I went into full labour almost instantaneously. The nurses were shocked it took hold so quickly and strongly. So I immediately asked for my epidural. A Resident showed up and suggested I try Demerol. My reply was direct. “I’m not in a position to debate this with you as I now have only 3 minutes before the next contraction. Please get the anesthesiologist” He turned out to be the closest I’ve ever been to “ GOD”.

 

This doctor was amazing! I even thanked him in my birth announcement, as his services were of utmost importance I felt. The alleviation of pain is an incredible sensation. Your entire body and mind relax. He emphasized that this allowed the baby to just flow down the birth canal, as on a lazy River ride. He was right.

 

I brought some reading material and would watch the machine print out pages of what should have been excruciating contractions I was completely immune to.

 

I told Larry to go grab something for himself to eat. When he returned with a McDonalds bag (yes that’s outside the St. Boniface hospital) I was in disbelief he left the building. It seemed fitting that those same Golden arches showed up in the background window right after delivery.

 

After four hours of being unbelievably amazed at this whole procedure, the good nurse left for coffee. Her replacement wasn’t quite as nice. I told her something was up. “We just checked you an hour ago, what’s the problem ?” I indicated that I felt premenstrually bitchy. That symptom didn’t warrant further investigation.

 

Fabulous the good nurse is back. I repeated to her how I sensed something was happening and was assured she’d be more attentive. She checked and emphatically said:” OMG the baby’s head is crowning, you need to start pushing now! You are so ahead of schedule !”

 

I kindly asked that the epidural be topped up as I felt a twinge of a cramp on my right side. They obliged.

 

Two hours of rather exhausting pushing and the baby required just a hint of help. My OBGYN asked if I wanted to try vacuum extraction which she had never used? Sure !

 

That did the trick alright. They sucked her out, placed her on my stomach announcing that the baby was a girl. I had been certain I was having a boy. So I was in shock, threw up and processed that I needed to rethink this kid’s wardrobe. Yes it could now include skirts, funky vests I sewed ( one mesh encasing fake insects and another quilted vinyl ) and lots of other goodies.

 

Having a baby is no small feat. It was and still is my biggest achievement. I found it scary at times and yes challenging. But ultimately it was so rewarding.

 

So bravo to all those who bring children into the world and especially now. Times were far more stable in 1990. We didn’t face the challenge of a pandemic, the threat of WWIII, monkey flu, erratic weather patterns and an impending recession. It’s far more difficult this time round.

 

So we shall see what type of baba I become. I know to only offer advice when asked, it’s clear that much has changed since I was up all night, and that being overbearing, won’t serve anyone well.

 

I think I’m dilating and getting ready to embrace this milestone- open minded.

 

I never met any of my grandparents. They had all perished long before my arrival. But their DNA was passed down to me via my beloved parents and so will mine and Larry’s be part of this child’s.

 

I think baby names will be a defining moment. Some who know my creative side might think I’d welcome a baby called: Apple or Stormi or baby X, but I’m old fashioned in this department.

 

Let it be healthy, and the miracle of birth go well and both mom and baby will meet very soon and their bond will be strong. Falling in love with your baby is the best. It’s a love like no other. And even at the age of 31, I still worry about my “baby “ as she has her own. You are a mother forever.

 

Dedicated to my daughter Sophie Berkal- Sarbit


 

 
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


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