How I Got Born

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Like most of you readers, I started with two parents. One was a male, the other a female. That’s how biology works, at least if you have more than a few different types of cells.

My dad was a city kid from Cambridge, Massachusetts. His brother-in-law Stanley introduced him to fishing. I’m surprised dad liked fishing as much as he did. He worked as a tech in a darkroom all day, and he used to say fishing got him out into the sunshine and fresh air.

On the last Saturday in August 1952 my dad took my very pregnant mother fishing at the Concord River. He pulled off the side of the road at a bridge, got out of the car, went under the bridge next to the river, and started fishing. Mom sat in the Chevy, knitting.

Even in Massachusetts the August sun gets hot, and as mom sat with her yarn, working her magic with the needles, the sun climbed higher and higher into the sky. As was typical, dad showed no signs of leaving early, nor did he give the slightest thought to the comfort (or lack thereof) of his young wife.

Finally mom began to overheat. She did a quick survey and determined the only shade available was under the bridge, where her husband was fishing. Only one small obstacle prevented her from joining him- a small seawall. How hard could that be to negotiate?

She jumped off the wall. Even though the drop was short she felt a sharp, stabbing pain upon landing. It quickly ebbed though, and she made her way into the shade that the bridge so generously provided. It was cool under there. The air was heavy with the scent of the fertile river.

A short while later mom noticed she was wet. Not sweaty wet, but I-think-I-peed-my-pants wet. Mom told dad she needed to leave, and as quickly as he ever would he agreed to take her. History has failed to record whether or not dad caught anything that day.

Mom was wet all weekend. She thought that I was pressing on her bladder, making her leak. What actually happened is that when she made that short jump down the seawall the amniotic sac developed a leak, and all the fluid was slowly leaking out. By Monday I was high and dry.

Tuesday the leakage contained blood. Now alarmed, mom went to the doctor. He sent her to the Cambridge City Hospital immediately, telling her that my life was in danger. An emergency Cesarean section ensued, and Voila! Seven pound plus, I guess I was above the minimum legal size.

You never hear about babies being thrown back because they’re too small, or too big, or out of season. In many ways babies get treated like fish- they’re weighed, they’re measured, they’re frequently photographed. But you never hear a dad say, “Put him back, he’ll be bigger next time we get him!”

No mom would ever stand for it.

And that’s how I got born.