Sunday, September 18, 2011
The Maximus Poems
Purchased at Talking Leaves...Books. Speaking of which, I was informed by the proprietor of Talking Leaves, one Jonathon Welch, that it was he, and not Jim Koller, that gave me the copy of Olson at Berkeley I have in my library. Apologies and thanks to Mr. Welch.
Between pages 318 and 319 sit two items. One is a Gloucester brochure I acquired the first time I visited, for a wedding in Rockport in 1998. I will write about this in the next entry, I think. The other is a small piece of paper with the following typed on it.
How do the great poets deal
with fallen coats?
I am pretty sure this slip of paper was handed out by Matvei Yankelevich to the audience in attendance for a reading we gave together along with Ammiel Alcalay at the Zinc bar in 2005. Brendan Lorber asked if I would give a talk and so I invited Ammiel along to talk about the Olson Now project, which we had just begun.
In other news, I am now a father.
Lori gave birth to our daughter, Emily Anabelle Kelleher, on Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 1:40 PM., after about 17 hours of labor. Wednesday night around 9 PM, we were sitting in the living room watching Dexter Season 5 on DVD, when Lori heard a pop. A few minutes later her water broke and she started having labor pains. We called the midwife, who told us to wait until the contractions got much closer and the pain became too great to bear before going to the hospital. Around midnight, we decided to go. The midwife seemed dubious, but she put in the call anyway and met us there. We arrived about 12:15 and were admitted and given a room almost immediately.
That was the last thing that happened quickly for the next thirteen hours and forty minutes. We spent the first two answering admission questions a nurse typed in to a computer next to the bed. Apparently, the hospital just switched over to computer record keeping last week. How any operation could still be on a paper-only basis at this late date is mind-boggling. But there it is. None of the night nurses truly understood the computers system, so we ended up answering all the questions two to three times. At one point, a conference of about five nurses coalesced in our room, all of gathered to try to figure out how to save data without erasing it. While they were doing this, Lori was bouncing up and down on an inflatable ball as I massaged her back.
Lori suffered heroically through about eight hours of labor without any kind of relief. At about six in the morning, the midwife suggested it might be best to help her dilate by inserting a balloon catheter into the cervix. This painful procedure took about two hours, at the end of which Lori decided the pain had become too great and decided to induce and get an epidural. All of this was set up by about 7 AM, at which time, thankfully, the night shift ended and the day nurse and midwife arrived. Both of them were wide awake, capable, caring and wonderful to deal with. Not that there was anything terrible about the night shift, but everyone seemed to be a bit slow and cranky by about 3.
From 7-10 the midwife checked in every now and again on Lori's dilation. At around 9:30 she had dilated to 9 cm and the midwife told us it was time to get serious. She reached in, pushed what was left of the cervix aside, and told us all to get ready. I had to pee. I ran to the bathroom. While I was peeing I burst into tears. I stood over the toilet for a few minutes crying, partly out of exhaustion, partly out of a sense that my whole life was about to change right then and there. I haven't had too many moments in my life where that fact was so present and apparent. In fact, I don't think I have had any until now.
When I returned I asked if I had to put on scrubs. The nurse replied that they only did that in the movies and that I could wear the clothes I had on. For the next nearly four hours, I was in charge of Lori's right leg. The midwife took charge of the delivery. The nurse took the left leg. We shared responsibility for Lori's breathing. At this point, Lori's was so exhausted that she had a little trouble connecting all of her senses together in order to breath in, hold it, and push in one motion. We coached her through this for about an hour before she finally got into a good rhythm.
Even then, things were going slowly, so the midwife and nurse put her in many different positions: on her back, on both sides, on all fours. At one point, they put her on her back again and handed her the knot of a sheet that had been tied into a circle. The midwife told her that during each contraction she was to pull on one end of the sheet while the midwife pulled on the other. They called it "Tug-o'-war." We tried this until Lori had exhausted herself physically. The midwife told her to rest for a while, that it might be best just to let her uterus do the heavy lifting for her.
This seemed to work. A half an hour later, the midwife and nurse returned and said they could see the baby's head. Lori told me later that she had been quietly pushing when she was supposed to be resting, which probably hurried things along. From then on, it was all Lori. She had the breathing, the holding, the pushing engaged in a single rhythm fueled by an angry will to get the pain overwith. We were just there for moral support until the end.
It was a marvel to watch the head slowly appear, a small round disk the size of nickel, then retract, then reappear the size of a quarter, then retract, until it was about the size of a silver dollar. Finally, the midwife could get her hand around the head so you could see the side of it. She looked at Lori and said, "This is the LAST contraction. I mean it!" We waited another minute or so, and when it came around Lori held her breath and pushed until she was purple. The baby's head began to emerge. "One more push!" Lori pushed again. Suddenly the baby's whole body shot out as if from a cannon. Almost as quickly, the midwife placed her on Lori's breast.
The baby wept quietly after she came out. Lori closed her eyes and wept with relief while the nurses and midwives cleaned the baby off. She was bright pink from top to bottom. Her dark brown hair was matted around her temporarily elongated cranium. I took a few quick photos and videos, but was too overwhelmed by the moment to document it in great detail.
We were there, we know what happened. Pictures aid memory, but I'd rather write about it.
So, there you are. We got home yesterday. Everybody's healthy. Our darling angel sleeps through the night, crying only when she wants to nurse. Hopefully it will stay that way! I will try to keep up with the blog, if I can get enough sleep and free time to do so.
from The Maximus Poems
To have the bright body of sex and love
back in the world–the moon
has her legs up
in the sky of Egypt