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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

HOM: Rebecca Lyn

One day Ben Rolf called and asked me to stop by his office at the paper. When I got there, he explained that he had fired the person writing his front page articles, and asked if I'd like to try the job. I told him I'd love to, and he said he wanted me to do an article for the March Of Dimes. I told him I could do it, and asked how soon he needed it. When he said "By noon tomorrow", I went into shock, and then told him that would be fine. It made for some pretty frantic hours, but circumstances helped me do the article. This was one of the most serendipitous moments of my life. I was laid off from GC for the winter, March Of Dimes deals with preventing birth defects, my daughter had just been born, and, well, here is the resulting article that I turned in -- on time! ---------- Becky & Jonathan By James H. Handcock Yesterday eight and a quarter pounds of happiness bearing the name of Rebecca came into our lives and made two of us into parents, four into grandparents and one into a great-grandparent. Those twenty inches of cuddly love represent nine months of dreams, plans and nervousness highlighted by such major events as baby showers, doctor's appointments and that first tiny tremor of life. The future holds many sleepless nights, uncountable dirty diapers and unending four o'clock feedings, but they are the price that must be paid for the joys of parenthood. The noon whistle marked the end of that hectic nine months, and the end of an eighteen hour ordeal. That last night before her noisy entry into the world could not be measured in minutes and seconds but only by events. For an anxious father those last eighteen hours meant forty-two cups of coffee, 37 trips to the restroom two floors down and ten thousand repetitions of "Is everything all right?". It meant eighteen long hours when all the jokes about waiting rooms and prospective fathers lost their humor and pacing feet turned numb. To Lyn it meant endless hours of cramps and drowsiness interrupted by needles, thermometers and hushed voices and punctuated by ever increasing pain. To anxious grandparents it was a time of patient waiting and well-concealed worry, and to the nurses it was just another shift. Those nurses deserve praise and gratitude. They show equal ability at calming a father-to-be and at easing the pain of labor for the new mothers. Overworked and badly understaffed, they have an unfailing good humor and patience that can only be prompted by love. I thank them, one and all. Were the pain, the tension and the nervousness worth it? One look at our little daughter and we can say "yes". From the almost-bald head to her tiny perfect toes she is a picture of sweetness unequaled on earth. We were very fortunate, for our little Rebecca is a healthy, normal baby in all respects. blessed with a. strong set of lungs and vocal cords and a sunny disposition that seems ready to take all that life can offer her. No parent could ask for more than this. Our joy is mixed with sorrow, though, for on the very morning that Becky was born the mailman delivered a birth announcement and a letter from Oregon. The announcement was one of joy, but the letter was not. A few days before, a little boy named Jonathan was born, the son of some close friends there. At six and a half pounds, he was a package of affection and happiness who brought much pleasure to his parents, but also sadness. Jonathan's parents cannot share our joy, for they will never be able to watch their baby grow up to lead a normal life. At the end of a long and difficult pregnancy, their son came into the world through a Caesarean section. He appeared normal, but the tests showed that he suffered from a serious birth defect that would affect him greatly and perhaps not let him live. Their letter was in my pocket while I paced the floor of that waiting room, adding depth and color to all of my fears. It made the minutes drag like hours and the hours seem like eternity till the doctor told me that all was well with mother and child. My worries weren't necessary, but the odds are just one in twenty that a baby will be defective when it is born. Those odds could be worse but they can and will be far better. YOU can help to lower the odds in favor of the baby! How? Most birth defects can be detected and prevented or cured if the proper equipment, techniques and knowledge are available. Medication and corrective devices, coupled with a better knowledge of nutrition and care for the expectant mother, reduce the chances of birth defects, but all require financial help. This is where you can aid. No matter who you are, how old or young you are, or what your status is, you can help. Every dime counts and every dollar you give means more healthy babies beacuse of the research and equipment it will finance. One dime or one dollar may not seem like much, but when they are multiplied by the millions of concerned people across the nation they supply the money needed for the battle against defects. This week is the Mother's March. Be home Thursday, and when that knock comes on your door be ready to answer it and to give. YOU can help little Jonathan and the fifteen million other children crippled by birth defects. Give what YOU can. Babies are worth it. ---------- The article was a hit. March Of Dimes sent a thank-you letter to the paper, there was a flood of positive feedback from the readers, and I got the writing job. The extra $25 per weekly article would be a big help. I was pleased beyond words. I got a lot of teasing about overkill for filling the front page of a newspaper with a birth announcement, and the tone of some of the letters Lyn & I got created a little friction at home: "Congratulations on the beautifully well-written article. Great job! Oh, and congratulations on the new baby too." Every time my ego inflated Lyn punctured it -- she said she did all the work & I got the credit! TBC (Me) (Blacktail Books)