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To follow up on Gail’s hypnosis-induced surprise insight, I had one at our last class as well. At various points our instructor has asked to imagine being in some lovely place, perhaps someplace in nature. I seem to have settled on this spot that my Dad and I backpacked to in Colorado over 10 years ago now (I can’t believe it has been that long!). The weather was perfect and summer wildflowers were blooming everywhere. You could look from our tent across a small clear pond, and up out of a small bowl shaped valley to a rocky ridge that marked the continental divide. One morning we woke to see two large stags standing in dramatic profile at the top of that ridge.

I think I was about 19 when we made that trip. I was very surly, pining for my fling-of-the-moment girl back home, and still in the very early part of the awkward and painful decade of parental relations that followed my coming out (we’ve since worked things out pretty well and they love Gail to bits, but that’s a story for another day). My dad, though, in his own somewhat awkward and stilted way, was taking this all in stride. In retrospect it is rather sweet. As a parent now, I have a bit more empathy for how strange I must have seemed to him, and how desperately far away. But outdoorsy things we could do. Of his three daughters, I’ve always been the most game for outdoor adventures, and at some point I became his most likely companion on such outings. We could plan a trip, walk in the woods, set up camp and cook dinner in pleasant company, without too much difficulty and tears, so that’s what we did.

I found myself trying to edit the painful parts of this memory from the image, and as part of that, I found myself trying to remove my Dad. He didn’t really fit in with the whole natural relaxation for birth theme (it seemed like there shouldn’t be any other people, maybe just those flowers and the pond), but I just couldn’t quite get rid of him. At some point I realized he might be sticking around for a reason, that there was some piece of me that really wants to have my father at our birth.

It will never happen. My parents live a 5 hour plane ride away. My father is a family doctor with a schedule to keep (he has actually caught many a baby). We’ll be trying very hard not to schedule anything birth-wise, which would mean he’d need plan to be out here for weeks to be sure of being here, and in many ways I’d rather not have either of my very medical parents (my mom is an advanced practice nurse) anywhere near our attempt at a home birth. I can’t imagine going through the decisions we had to make when Leigh was in the process of taking her own sweet time to join us with my parents anywhere nearby, even though I do love both of them dearly.

But it does seem somehow nice that my Dad, who I’m often guilty of kind of forgetting about and putting off to the side, has found his way into this particular corner of our preparations. He’s a quiet and thoughtful man. He thinks deeply and conveys his thoughts slowly, often getting a bit run over in a family that contained four extremely opinionated and outspoken women, and now also contains 3 kids-in-law and 3 (soon to be 4) boisterous grandchildren. I may be guilty of sometimes failing to appreciate his peaceful and calming presence, and unfailing love, but I will endeavor to carry it with us as we move forward, even if he won’t be here in person.

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