Burton on the Bay

 Vol. 10, No. 2

January 10-16, 2002

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Welcome though you are, I cannot help but speculate what lies ahead for you in this curious and continually changing world.
A New Baby for the Burton-Boughey Family

Born on Thursday, merry and glad.
— Natural History: Pliney the Elder, AD23-79

Welcome to this Earth of ours Mackenzie Noelle Boughey, born on a Thursday, the last Thursday of 2001. May you live up to the prophesy of Pliney the Elder.

And only 10 days into life on this Earth, thankfully you are off to a good start. There have been many smiles — and few tears. What a merry and glad beginning.

Born two days after Christmas (a belated Christmas gift), you are the first daughter of Heather, my last daughter, and you are my 10th grandchild. You join seven boys and make three girls. And, like all the rest, you are something special, very special.

Might I remind you of an old English proverb: Children are poor men’s riches. Your arrival at 8:23pm, December 27, 2001, at Anne Arundel Medical Center, Annapolis, has added to my wealth and that of Heather and your dad, Jon, not to mention the rest of your family.

Our Girl
You’re somewhat small as babies go, arriving at 6 pounds 11 ounces, and have lost a few ounces as most newborns do. But now you’re regaining them. If you’re like most women, one day you’ll be resisting if not fighting weight. But let’s not worry about that now.

Grow up first, grow up healthy and strong. Then worry about weight if you must. There will be more important things to worry about as you move along in life, so for now and some precious time to come, there is no need for worry. Enjoy.

We will do the worrying, but not without our time of joy and satisfaction. You are of the age when every sneeze or cough prompts concern; the faintest cry at night brings your parents from sleep. Your every move is monitored. You are their first, and they have much to learn in Parenthood 101. Be patient.

Continue to be as Pliney the Elder wrote, merry and glad.

Having myself helped to raise five daughters and one son, I wonder if your mom and dad really know how fortunate they are that you rarely cry — and then only for a few moments. I think of the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson who in Journals wrote in 1836:

There never was a child so lovely, but his mother was glad to get him asleep.

Asleep or awake, quiet dominates your early days. You seem content to observe your surroundings with wide-open eyes of dark blue. There is much to see and hear from your crib or the arms that hold you, and you are taking it all in.

A sweet child is the sweetest thing in nature. —“A Bachelor’s Complaint of the Behavior of Married People”: Charles Lamb, 1823.

Surely, a journalist treads on uneasy grounds when writing of a new family member, but getting personal is not that uncommon. Eugene Field wrote for the Chicago Tribune:

We have a new baby. It is composed of a bald head and a pair of lungs.

Not so with you. Dark hair, not a profusion of it (though probably more than adorns this old head of mine) covered yours from the beginning. And your lungs are used more for breathing than for bellowing.

Your Arrival
You come into a world much different — and for the best — than your grandfather, even his first daughters. How times have changed.

When I came in 1926 — also in December, and 12 days before your date — many mothers were confined to hospital bed for two weeks. Their babies were far down the hall in another room filled with other newborn, all subjected during visiting hours to the eyes of adoring relatives on the other side of a big glass window.

When your first aunts were born, it was common for mothers to be hospitalized for a week, and babes were still relegated to the same small rooms side by side, some crying, some sleeping, others feeding. No privacy, nurses coming and going, feeding, changing diapers, weighing and watching.

When you arrived, from the operating room where your mother underwent emergency surgery, you were promptly wheeled to a private room for mom, dad and you. It was like the of Ritz of Boston.

Birthing has become a family affair: Fathers, grandparents and friends are invited, and your grandmothers were prepared to greet you until complications ruled otherwise. But minutes after your birth, you had settled down in your room, complete with the adoration of parents, grandmothers and your intended godmother Denise Albrecht. What a start in this big, wide world.

This grandfather wasn’t there. He’s old fashioned — of the days when fathers and grandfathers paced the halls, and waited for a nurse to appear with the word, “boy” or “girl.”

They — everyone it seems but me — knew you would be a girl many months before. I asked not to be told, for I like surprises, but when I noticed ribbons on your mother’s shower gifts were of pink, I knew. So much for surprises.

At Home in the World
Thanks to medical plans of today, three days after you arrived, you were bundled up, seated in a fancy child car seat and driven to your permanent family home in Crofton, where the family cats viewed you with suspicion and apprehension. And still do.

But not so this grandfather. Welcome though you are, he cannot help but speculate what lies ahead for you in this curious and continually changing world. I think of the words of Heinrich Heine, who a century and a half ago wrote: I advise our grandchildren to come into this world with very thick skin on their backs.

My advice to you. Mackenzie Noelle Boughey, are the words of George Santayana: There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval.

Enough said …

Copyright 2002
Bay Weekly