I’m resurrecting this blog for our hejira to meet our newest grandchild. [Thanks Ruth Wilf for calling it that.] Technically, a hejira is made to Mecca by devout Muslims. But a cross-country trek with some bumps and stress is surely right for this Jewish grandmother. And lest we forget the Italian grandmother who is coming from even farther! Baby “Sprout” (as named by the expectant parents) is due March 23 and will be born in or around Talent, Oregon. Neither sex or name is known yet as the parents want a more traditional reveal. I know this would have pleased my ancestors who were superstitious about births. They didn’t want to summon the always-lurking evil spirits. “Kine-ahora” they would whisper. The word is derived from the German kein or “not one” and the Hebrew ayin ha-rah or “the evil eye.” It was also important to cover any compliment such as “What a beautiful daughter, kine-ahora, you have.” Again protecting the child from the evil eye. Apparently the Italians have similar concerns. Beyond that, midwife extraordinaire Ruth Wilf believes that it is far better not to know the sex of the baby beforehand. Friends who recently gave birth purposefully covered their baby’s bottom on delivery and waited until the first bonding was over to see their child’s gender.
My friends and family will be shocked that I am not panting to know–since I am such an information freak. Our children were born in the Neanderthal period before routine ultrasounds and each of our babies was a surprise–although I was absolutely totally unconditionally certain they were boys. (They were.) One reason some expectant parents give for staying in the dark is they don’t receive as many gender-specific gifts or begin to think in stereotypes. I felt the same way and determined that our sons would have dolls, learn to cook, and grow to be nurturing men. I achieved the latter two goals, but not via the expected path. Any attempt to tuck them in with soft toys failed as they much preferred to clutch toy cars in their fists and cuddle next to Tonka trucks. Since being a Courter means developing workshop skills early, I expect Sprout will be wielding a hammer before being weaned whether named “Thor” or “Thelma.”
Ashley is the poster child for the contrary position about be told the gender beforehand and the fact that she does not yet know her new niece or nephew’s sex is an aggravation. She even went so far as to agree to a test that reported one of her baby’s sex as early as possible. That eliminated half of the names. They opened the naming discussion to family members, took suggestions as to relatives who might be honored, and way before birth they had settled. Needing to know has a lot to do with personality. If I were having a baby now, I am sure I would demand the information because I cannot stand for someone to not share knowledge that might be important to me. Likewise with Ashley, although in her case she lived through so many uncertainties during her nine years in foster care that she needs to prepare as much as possible. No surprise parties for this gal.
Baby Giulia/Josh Courter is due March 23. We are departing Crystal River on March 3 and expect to arrive in Oregon on March 12. Nona Longo arrives a few days later from Rome. The calculation of a due date is odd since it begins on the LMP–the date of the last menstrual period when you are definitely not pregnant. Then it is based on a standard 40-week pregnancy (note: that is technically 10 months, not the 9 normally quoted). But the odds of delivering on the Due Date are only 1 in 30 women. (Blake was born on his due date, but then again I am a punctual woman.) Statistically, a woman is more likely to give birth a week early. In Giulia’s case that would be March 16 and both grannies and one grandpop will be there by then. However, Josh was born 3 weeks early, but I think that is a bit of an anomaly because he was a second baby and I had ignorantly driven up Mt. Rainer 6 weeks before he was due and began to have contractions at over 5000 feet of altitude. To make matters worse, Phil convinced me to go for an aerial tour of the mountain which took us close to 10,000 feet. Now I know that “the enhanced formation of syncytial knots and cytotrophoblastic cells is a histological feature of placental hypoxia, which may be secondary to maternal hypoxia resulting from high altitude hypoxia. Since placental hypoxia is associated with an increased incidence of spontaneous preterm birth, we suggest that high altitude may be involved in the etiology of spontaneous preterm birth.”
All of this to say that due to popular request, I will be blogging about our trek and bragging about our new family member in this space. Expect photos, giggles, weird encounters, bizarre research, and reports on whether driving diagonally across this Huge Nation was a blunder or a blessing.
Accompanying us will be our beloved dog Barkleigh and in the tradition of John Steinbeck’s Travels With Charlie life on the road with a dog will be featured.
Stay tuned on Facebook for when new chapters are posted.