[an error occurred while processing this directive] ZEPHYR Magazine
                              T H E
  
                      E S T A B  - L O I D
                ---------------------------------
                Issue #5                  2-25-86
                ---------------------------------
  
            A weekly electronic magazine for users of 
                The Establishment BBS (894-6526)
                owned and operated by Thane Smith
  
                    Editor - Gene B. Williams 
   
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                            (c) 1986
 
THIS ISSUE:
 
     Okay, here we go. Due to all the kind and wonderful comments 
I feel free to indulge myself and talk about the birth of my 
child, and birth in general. I might suggest that you flick on 
the capture mode. I got a bit carried away this week, and a long 
one is coming.
     As was suggested, consider this first part as a disclaimer. 
This week's topic concerns that taboo topic of sex and the 
creation of life. (Oh, horrors!) There's just a little blood, and 
no death or dismembered bodies, so if you're one of the die-hards 
who is trying to protect our morality, you'd better skip this 
issue. (As a personal comment, it has always seemed strange to me 
that movies showing people getting blown to shreds can be rated G 
or PG, while movies about LIFE are kept hidden away. I've been on 
both sides in real life, and believe me - the creation of life is 
much more humanistic than taking of it.)
 
     With the disclaimer aside:
 
     I'm not a doctor. And I have no special knowledge, other 
than the fact that I've been through it - and, as a writer, my 
natural curiosity drove me to learn more about it than the norm.
     Feel free to ask questions or to start a discussion 
(including one on the insanity of having violence sanctioned 
while sex is forbidden). If you feel embarrassed, or just want to 
talk about it personally, contact me via the mail section. I'll 
do what I can. 

  
                     THE FAMOUS "BABY ISSUE"
 
     At 6:03 AM, February 12th, 1986, my first child was born. He 
weighed 7 lbs. 14 oz. and measured in at a length of 19 1/2 
inches. That's just slightly large for a baby, but is nothing all 
that unusual.
     What was unusual was that he came *exactly* on the due date, 
despite what the doctors had been telling us. In fact, Tuesday 
morning on the 11th we went to see the doctor. He said that the 
baby wouldn't be coming for another week.
     We fooled him. By 10 PM that night the cervical plug came 
out, and labor was well under way. We checked into the hospital 
at about midnight. Six hours later there was a new life in the 
world with the name of Daniel Gorden Williams.
     I've done many things in my life. Again, stirred on by a 
natural curiosity, I've been lucky enough to experience more than 
most. But, from start to end, this *has* to rank as the single 
greatest thing ever.
  
                           Conception
 
     You know the scientific part of it. Keeping it clean, during
intercourse several millions of sperm are released. Most of these 
die almost instantly due to the acidity of the female. More get 
themselves zapped out of existence because they were never formed 
right in the first place. A few thousand manage to survive and 
start the long swim. Kinda like the picture many people have of 
the salmon spawning.
     In any case, a few of the testy little buggers manage to 
make it all the way to the egg. Immediately they start burrowing 
in. Only one makes it. The odds for an individual sperm are much 
worse than the odds of any particular person becoming president. 
Think of all your friends, and all their friends, and all the 
people across the United States you don't know and never will. Of 
all of that, everyone is going to try, but everyone is going to 
fail except for one.
     That single sperm works its way through the egg casing and 
the DNA is shared. Another miracle.
     Here we have a handful - and a small handful at that - of 
chemical structures that kinda hang onto the side of a one-sided 
ladder. Each is like a key, and will fit into only very specific 
other keys.
     Think of that ladder again, and one that is, say, a mile in 
length. The Jolly Green Giant has stamped his foot down through 
the center of the entire ladder, and all the rungs are shattered 
to bits. You have all the parts, though, and it's your job to 
take a bottle of Elmer's Glue and stick it all back together 
again so that the repaired ladder is idental to the original.
     You have to do it just right. The thing is, each rung of 
that massive ladder also contains a secret clue for the greatest 
treasure ever imagined. Screw up just one rung and you'll never 
find the treasure.
     All that happens automatically. You don't have to think 
about it, and you certainly don't have to get out any glue.
 
                             Growth
 
     The two halves of that ladder come together. That triggers a 
cycle that won't stop for about another 80 odd years. Two half 
cells combine to make a single whole cell (sorta). The first that 
cell wants to do is to split into two more whole cells. Now you 
have two whole cells. Each of those also wants to split - and now 
you have 4 - which want to split - and now you have 8 - which 
want to split - and now you have 16 - and so on.
     Let this go unregulated and what you end up with is a huge 
pot of shapeless oatmeal. But that doesn't happen. It's not often 
that a woman gives birth to a bouncing bowl of hot breakfast.
     Instead, at a certain point there are an almost countless 
number of sub-cellular executive meetings down inside. The cells 
begin to specialize. Some turn into eyes (with additional 
specializations happening, with some of those turning into rods, 
others into cones, others into the cornea, etc., etc., etc.). 
Some make up the muscles and some blend in to make up the nervous 
system to work the muscles. Some of it turns into the hundreds of 
various parts that are needed to make it possible to do the whole 
things all over again in about 15 years.
     It goes on and on that way. From a sperm and an egg - 
neither of which is complete in itself - comes a whole cell. From 
that cell comes all the specialized cells that make up the human 
body. And they all end up in the right places. (How often have 
you seen someone with a part of an eye growing out of his big 
toe?)
     The thought of all the things that can go wrong within all 
that complication and specialization can be scary. And nature 
*does* make mistakes now and then. Birth defects exist - but they 
are relatively rare. Especially when you consider what has to 
happen.
     Considering what has to happen, it's amazing that any of us 
are anything other than those pots of oatmeal. (Think about it 
for a while!)
  
                            Pregnancy
  
     Not all that long ago, and still to be found in some parts 
of the world today, the whole thing went something like this:
     Mr. Big Honcho got horny. But that was okay. God in His
infinite wisdom had created an animal that was just perfect as 
both a slave and as a "vessel of pleasure" for the one TRUE 
creation of God - man.
     The woman would get pregnant as a result. But life had to go 
on. The man had his work, and the woman had hers. Quite often, 
neither job was all that pleasant. It wasn't unusual for both to 
work HARD from before the sun came up until after it went down, 7 
days a week, 52 weeks a year. The fact that the woman's body was 
going through changes didn't matter.
     The diet wasn't much good, either - what diet there was.
     The result was that a high percentage of the new babies that 
came into the world never made it to see their first birthday. 
About half of them didn't live that long. (Think about that next 
time you're sitting around the family dinner table - or at a 
party with some friends. Until relatively recently, about half of 
them wouldn't be there.) And more than a few women died giving 
birth, or died shortly thereafter from massive bleeding, 
infection, etc.
     In short, if you wanted a family of husband, wife and 3 
kids, you just about had to go through more than one wife, and at 
least a half dozen births. 
     All that has changed, at least in America. Infant death rate 
is very low in our country, and most of the infant deaths occur 
among the poor and underprivileged who are still living in 
conditions that are about as bad as those of our ancestors.
     I bring all this up to make a point. When your own time 
comes, something strange will happen in your brain (or should!). 
All of sudden you find yourself becoming concerned for the safety 
of the mother and baby.
     Think back at what has to take place for that baby to form. 
All that complexity has to click along flawlessly. Even a small 
mistake in there along the genetic chain and the billions upon 
billions of cells deivisions and specializations can mean that 
the child isn't going to be "whole," or perhaps won't even be 
alive.
     Yet somehow it all *does* take place flawlessly. At least it 
usually does. If the mother eats well, avoids all the bad stuff, 
takes care of herself in general, everything is going to be just 
fine. Regular visits to the doctor cost, but not all that much, 
really. And they make it possible to monitor the progress all 
along the way so as to spot any problems before they really 
become problems.
 
                              Labor
 
     When most of us were born, the tradition was to run the wife 
to the hospital at top speed, shuffle her into the icy delivery 
room - and shuffle the husband off into a waiting room. And to 
make matters worse, momma would often get knocked out with huge 
doses of anesthesia.
     Don't let anyone fool you. Giving birth HURTS! And it's a 
bloody mess. The doctors thought they were doing right to keep 
the father out of the way, and the mother unconscious to the 
pain.
     Think of what is taking place.
     A little body of somewhere around 8 pounds is trying to 
squeeze down through a tunnel that normally resists the passage 
of even a finger. For intercourse to take place without pain for 
the woman, lubrication is needed just so the penis (just slightly 
over an inch thick) can enter. Now all of a sudden a head and 
shoulders has to pass down through that same vagina.
     To use an analogy that many others have used, imagine 
"trying to shit a watermelon." (Excuse me.)
     At the top of the vagina is the cervix. This is a very small 
hole that leads to the uterus. After conception the cervix gets 
corked up tight with a plug of mucus. The uterus then becomes a 
completely sealed bag.
     At the beginning of labor the cervix softens, begins to 
expand, and the plug comes out. (It looks like just what it is - 
a hunk of gooey mucus.) As labor progresses, the cervix continues 
to expand until it is about 5 inches wide. (Hold your fingers 
up.)
     The uterus itself is actually a muscle. It's the involuntary 
flexing of this muscle that makes up what are called "contrac
tions." That's just what they are, afterall. And they hurt, too. 
Imagine a major set of muscles in your body having a huge charley 
horse every minute or so and you'll get the idea.
     Those contractions dilate the cervix and also help to push 
the baby out of the uterus and down the birth canal. (The rest of 
the push comes from the mother.) For the reasons explained above, 
this time isn't real fun for mom. Here comes that watermelon.
     The cervix has expanded enough to allow a fairly passage for 
the baby. The opening of the vagina hasn't. And if it doesn't 
open up far enough, the flesh can be torn - literally - by the 
baby's head coming through. To prevent this, and especially on 
first births, the doctor will probably perform an episiotomy (I 
hope I spelled that right).
     This is kinda like artificially making the opening larger. A 
cut is made beneath the vagina and down towards the anus - the 
area called the perineum (and I hope I spelled that right, too). 
This is where the tearing will take place if it's going to.
     There's a lot of argument as to the need for this minor 
operation. Less than half of women giving birth will tear. The 
other half will be just fine. Trouble is, the doctor's skilled 
incision is a nice, clean cut - easily stitched up afterwards. A 
tear isn't so clean and *can* present problems later on.
     To cut, or not to cut. . . that is the question. When your 
own time comes, this is something you'll have to decide for 
yourself - although the doctor may take the decision out of your 
hands anyway. If it looks like there will be tearing, he may even 
go against his promise not to cut and do the incision - as a 
semi-emergency operation.
     Whichever way it goes, it's no big deal. Most women never 
even feel the cut; and it virtually always heals up without 
difficulty, other than the little itching that comes with the 
healing of most wounds.
     Back to the birth:
     The final stage - called transition - is fairly quick. It's 
almost always less than 2 hours in length, and is quite often as 
little as a half hour. This is also when things get real messy.
     Through the labor, the woman has been bleeding. The placenta 
(the bag that holds the baby) has often broken open. The fluid 
may have been trickling out, or may have come out in a gush. 
Hopefully, it is a clear liquid, and should have no odor at all.
     At the end, if the placenta hasn't already broken open, it 
will then. Or the doctor will break it. No matter what, it has to 
break.
     Although it isn't always the case, the most common birth is 
head first. The head pushes its way through the wide-open cervix 
and the pelvic bones and slides down through the vagina - 
lubricated by blood and placental fluid.
     When the top of the head first peaks out through the vagina 
(called "crowning") it's almost over. The mother pushes like 
crazy, and eventually the doctor can get his hands on the baby's 
head to assist - and to protect the baby.
     Delivering the head is the worst part. Once that pops out, 
delivery of the shoulders is a breeze. The vagina has been forced 
wide open by this point. Generally it is a matter of seconds 
between the head and the shoulders.
     And suddenly there he or she is!
     At this point many women report a sense of near euphoria. 
The pain suddenly stops and the body is washed with relief.
 
                           The Newborn 
     When Danny came out, he was the strangest sight I'd ever 
seen. He, the doctor and the table were covered with blood and 
goo. (Again - no odor; just messy.) There was a general grayish 
cast to him, and his head looked like it was larger than all the 
rest of his body, and horribly misshapen.
     I was prepared for this, but I can imagine the thoughts 
someone would have who wasn't prepared. "My God! I have a 
deformed baby!"
     Bill Cosby did a skit on childbirth. In it he describes the 
doctor sitting there "like Johnny Bench." Then when the child is 
born he turns to his wife and says, "You just gave birth to . . . 
a lizard."
     Very funny - and very accurate.
     The umbilical is gray and green and red and blue and purple 
and yellow and . . . it looks almost as bizarre as does the baby. 
But look fast.
     At this point everything happens quickly. As soon as the 
head comes out, everything shifts into high gear. Turn your head 
away for a few seconds and you'll miss something very important. 
In a matter of minutes after the head comes out, the birth is 
complete, the umbilical is cut, and the baby is shuffled off to 
be cleaned and checked. All that's left is for the doctor to make 
sure that the entire placenta has come out (or he has to go in 
and get it!) and for him (or her) to patch up and clean up the 
woman. Once again, she is barely conscious of this. Even the 
stitches don't hurt.
     Back to the baby's head:
     Due to the pushing and pulling and crushing it received, the 
baby becomes what is called a "conehead." A very apt description. 
The baby's head has been squeezed and molded into a very strange 
shape so as to make passage down the birth canal easier. It 
doesn't hurt the baby, and doesn't last all that long. (A baby's 
skull is actually quite soft.)
     Danny's birth was a hard one. Consequently, his wasn't just 
squeezed into a strange shape. It was actually injured. Two 
pockets of blood - like massive bruises - formed on the two sides 
of the top of his head. ("He's going to be a little devil," the 
doctor told us. "He already has two horns.") He has been with us 
for 2 weeks now, and the bumps are still there, although 
considerably smaller.
     If the birth of your own child is vaginal, it's head *will* 
have a strange shape. (The only babies that have well-shaped 
heads are those that are delivered by Cesearian.) Be prepared for 
it. In a month or less - and possible within a few hours - it 
will take on its normal shape. Meanwhile, it doesn't affect the 
baby in any way, so don't worry about it.

                          Involvement
 
     It used to be that the father was shuffled off into a 
waiting room, and mom was knocked out. This has been shown to be 
the worst way to give birth, and fortunately things are changing.
(Building a family is . . . well, a FAMILY thing! It's not a 
doctor thing, or a hospital thing.)
     With the mother fully conscious, she can provide the pushing 
needed for an easy and safe birth. Unconscious, the doctor has to 
rely on the involuntary contractions only, which often means that 
he has to go get the baby, rather than letting the baby come to 
him. That can cause damage to the mother, and to the baby.
     Worse yet, the drugs that knock out the mother also get into 
the baby. And those are potent drugs. The baby in this case is 
born stoned out of his mind and with all systems heavily 
depressed by the drugs. His respiratory system, for example, has 
to struggle enough to get working. If the anaesthesia makes it 
more difficult for that to happen, the baby is going to need some 
help to breathe.
     As vicious as are the pains, most women can take it quite 
well. Get rid of that macho image. By point of fact, the average 
woman is actually stronger internally and more resilient than the 
average man. If our society didn't train us from birth to think 
of women as "the weaker sex," the hang-up wouldn't exist.
     Even so, there are drugs and techniques available that can 
take the edge of the pains without affecting the mother's 
consciousness in the slightest, and which don't affect the baby 
at all.
     This allows the mother to be completely aware of what is 
going on, but without quite as intense pain. And just minutes 
after the birth, she's ready to give the child his first taste of 
food.
     The shuffling off of the father has always been a sore point 
with me. Just before entering college I had a choice to make. I 
was a chaffeur and body guard for a prominent judge, and he 
wanted to get me into law school. I had a scholarship offered to 
me to enter any engineering science I cared for. My real dream 
was to go into obstetrics. Trouble there was that the girlfriend 
at the time hated the idea of me examining women as a profession.
     I abandoned that dream, but never abandoned the interest. 
Being a close part of having a child was a way of reviving that 
interest to a peak.
     To me, the perfect marriage is one in which your wife and 
lover is also your best friend. And who is better to have 
standing next to you at such a critical time as your best friend?
     Even if I was totally lacking in medical knowledge, my being 
there with Cindy throughout the pregnancy and birth gave her the 
support and strength she needed. Any husband can do the same, if 
he wishes.
     Early in the pregnancy I made it a point to take my wife in 
for her regular visits with the doctor. We were even together 
during the examinations.
     Many guys I've known have strange ideas of what takes place 
in the examination room. I've known some guys who even get 
insanely jealous, and take that out on the woman afterwards. But 
it takes just a little effort to figure it out.
     The woman bares herself, literally, and is up there on the 
table with her legs spread-eagled to a stranger. It's true that 
the doctor is coldly professional. There's nothing sexual about 
this for him (or her), any more than a mechanic gets turned on 
after he has changed out his 10,000th carb. Intellectually the 
woman knows this - but it's still an embarrassing thing.
     Our female users know what I mean. For you guys who don't, 
think of yourself bare-assed at the next GT, sitting up on a 
picnic table with your legs spread wide open and strapped down 
while everyone walks by and pokes and prods and discusses. That's 
an exaggeration, but should give you some idea.
     Having the husband and best friend standing there sounds 
like it would make it all the worse. Not so. The two of you were 
together for the conception. Hopefully you'll be there together 
for the birth. So, why not be there through everything? If 
nothing else, you'll quickly learn how little there is to it.
     Listening to the baby's heartbeat inside the womb is 
something NO ONE should miss. If you've never heard it, think of 
any of the old WWII movies with submarines. The chugga chugga 
chugga shoosh shoosh shoosh of the underwater engines describes 
the sound very well. In fact, if you were ever to make such a 
movie, and used a baby's heartbeat for the sound effects, nobody 
in the audience (other than a doctor) would know the difference.
     The birth itself is messy, as I've said. It's also possible 
that the pushing will cause the woman to take a dump (excuse me 
again) on the table. No big deal. The doctor and nurses have seen 
all that before a thousand times and will clean it away without a 
second's hesitation.
     There is a steady flow of blood throughout the last stages. 
The vagina is magically transformed to something of sexual 
interest to something different. It's just not the same. And for 
perhaps the first time, you'll see things as the doctor does.
     Admittedly, I'm a bit tougher than the average person when 
it comes to dealing with blood and messes. But I honestly feel 
that all but the weakest will be able to stand the sight - and 
will, in fact, not think anything of it at all.
     If the time comes, and the sight of blood, etc. is getting 
to you, keep in mind that she's not hurt. She's in pain, sure - 
but she's not hurt. This isn't an accident with injuries, but the 
coming of a new life in the world, and a life *you* are 
responsible for. When things get at the messiest, it's just about 
over.
     If you still can't stand the sight, then just stay at the 
head of the delivery table and give her all your moral support. 
Let her squeeze your hand through the pain; give her some crushed 
ice to quench her thirst; give her words of encouragement; take 
her insults and yelling without response if it comes to that, 
knowing that she doesn't mean it when she calls you names; make 
it easier for her. Simply be there, and don't watch anything.
     But BE THERE! You won't regret it.     
 
UNTIL NEXT TIME
 
     I got a little carried away with this issue. Sorry. But I 
could have gotten even more carried away. It's even tempting to 
do up something like, "A New Father's Reflections" or something 
along those lines.
     Maybe one of these days I will.
     It *does* concern me that there is so much misunderstanding 
of all this. Sex is dirty, while killing is "clean" and fun. 
That's backwards.
 
     As I started out saying - I'm not a doctor, and am certainly 
no great authority on the subject, but I'll do what I can to 
answer questions or to support a discussion. If you don't feel 
that your question or comment is appropriate to the board, leave 
it to me in mail. 
 
     Next week:
     This was a very long and very serious issue. Maybe next time 
around I'll go back to the lighter side again, or at least do up 
a piece of fiction.
     Keep in mind that this board exists strictly for YOU. It 
really does need your continued support. And we really don't want 
to remain as an exclusive little group. The word needs to be 
spread across the Valley.
     The magazine is here! And there are no successful imitations 
to it anywhere in the country that I know of. We're something 
special and unique in the world.
     Let's share that with as many others as possible. (It's the 
only pay I get for this.)


Zephyr Magazine is © Gene Williams. All rights reserved.