Friday, November 20, 2009

Indian Sam

I remember well the autumn I turned 12. I was in 7th grade and my school was on double sessions. I left the house after lunch and came home on the bus in the dark. My family lived in suburban St. Louis and we appeared to be an ordinary family, making snowmen in the yard in the winter, riding our bikes around the neighborhood in the summer, battling the bully on our street year-round. But we were not ordinary.

My own daughter Arielle is now exactly the same age I was that eventful evening, November 20th, long ago. I wonder how she would have reacted to my circumstances. If I remember right, it was also a Friday night, like it is now. My favorite show, Gomer Pyle, was about to start and I missed it because my new brother was coming into the world, right in my parents' bedroom.

My mother was against hospital births. Actually she is still pretty much against the medical profession in general. She gave birth to five children at home. But this brother, born when I was 12, was the most memorable for me. I remember the mysterious noises coming from the bedroom and my dad having me run get things for him. It was both scary and exciting. I was worried about my mother but knew something incredible was happening. I was privileged to see my newborn brother immediately after he was born. My mom and dad nicknamed him Indian Sam because his little face was so red. (We didn't worry about political correctness back then.)

For homework that weekend I had to write a report for English class. I wrote about what was foremost in my mind, of course! I told about how I had assisted with the birth and everything about Indian Sam, the baby I already adored. I read my report aloud in class. The teacher's reaction was stunned silence. My classmates didn't stir or say a word either. I knew then that it was a weird thing that I had witnessed and maybe my family wasn't like other families.

My mother probably influenced me to have my firstborn son at home, attended by a midwife--a MAN--and his trainees, who sat around and smoked cigarettes in the bedroom where I was laboring. It was a horrible experience and the rest of my boys were born in the hospital. (Those births weren't much better, but at least the air wasn't toxic.) After nursing school I worked in maternity in a hospital in Oklahoma City hoping to make other women's births a little more pleasant. I experienced many miracles there, for every child born into this world is a miracle.

Indian Sam was a very special brother. My other two brothers were playmates, lots of fun most of the time, but this one was my baby. I claimed him as my own. My mother gave me a lot of responsibility in caring for him and I thoroughly enjoyed him. Even today, we have a close relationship. So, Happy Birthday, Little Brother!

1 comment:

Kelli said...

Nice story. Wow! Smoking midwives... I'm sorry. I commend your mother and you. I tried to have Ivy at home, but had to be transferred to the hospital after 24 hours. I wouldn't hesitate to try homebirth again. I am like your mama.