Sarah's birth story — now made public

Last night, at midnight, Sarah asked me to tell a story about the day she was born.  We were in the kitchen — along with Matt and Aaron.

So I told her the story:

Alicia’s contractions began on the morning of September 26, 1982.  We were good Lamaze students, so we knew not to rush to the hospital, but to call the doctor and wait until they were x number of minutes apart.  I can’t remember exactly how many minutes.

We went to T&F Barbecue for breakfast.  I remember seeing Charles and Norma Goldman there.  Two tables of Jews in a barbecue restaurant on the eve of Yom Kippur.

As we waited for our eggs and toast, I remember her taking a few cleansing breaths and saying something like “That was a strong one.”

And I replied, “They’re five minutes apart.”

And I remember somebody in the next booth giving us quite a look.  Sort of a “why-the-hell-aren’t-you-rushing-to-the-hospital” look.

childrenThat was before children.  We were pretty calm back then.  In fact, at that point in my life, I did yoga every single day.  Then, after we had children, my practice was extremely sporadic for twenty-five years and I was a nervous wreck.  Now that they’re all basically grown, the daily yoga habit is back again.

Alicia was all packed.  I had packed a bag lunch.  So we had breakfast, and later that afternoon went to the hospital.

When Dr. Parada entered the room, he remarked on the unfairness of me eating an apple while Alicia was laboring.  He told me he had just had a nice lunch with his whole family. I smelled wine.  Then he told me this joke:

“A southerner was a freshman at Harvard and asked somebody ‘Where’s the library at?'”

“Son, this is Harvard.  The sooner you learn not to end a sentence with a preposition, the better off you’ll be.”

“Excuse me.  Where’s the library at, Asshole?”

Then he delivered Sarah.

When she was born, Dr. Parada told us she was a girl.

I guess I was sort of hoping for a boy — the family name and all that — and he saw this on my face.

“These are the best kind,” he said.

This happened at 7pm.  A mile away, at our Temple, Kol Nidre had just begun.

Kol Nidre is a moving, melodic prayer that introduces the observance of Yom Kippur, the Jewish religion’s most sacred day.

All of my children have some connection to holidays.  Two years later, on Bastille Day, Aaron would be born.  Ten years later, on Rosh Hashanna, Emma would be born.

But Sarah certainly wins the day when it comes to holiday births.  Yom Kippur, during Kol Nidre, is a particularly special moment.

The next day, my first day of fatherhood, I didn’t go to services, but I did fast.  The next evening, I went to temple for the very end of Yom Kippur, in order to accept all the kind congratulations and eat some great food at the break fast.  Ben Shapiro gave me a little glass of Schnapps to break the fast and toast the birth of Sarah.

And thus is the story — a brief recounting — of that special day.

It's a good time to have babies!

The Republican strategy is simple.  Generate as much fear and cynicism as possible and suppress voter turnout this fall.

As bad as the economy is, the GOP would benefit politically from it getting worse, not better.  If it isn’t actually getting worse, they can at least say it’s getting worse — or fear it’s getting worse.  Even if it’s gradually getting better — they can still say it’s worse.

There’s nothing new about that.

According to Republican politicians, we’re supposed to fear many things:  including every minority group (and there are a lot of those).

Of course we should also fear the budget deficit.

There’s nothing new about that either.

They’ve been singing this song since the 70’s — despite the fact that Republicans contribute to deficit spending as much as Democrats.

Economists say that government spending is needed now, more than ever, in order to stimulate the economy.  Economists say the time to reduce the deficit is later, when we have peace, prosperity, and growth.  Economists say that reducing the deficit now would make things much worse.

Republican politicians ignore this.  They know that fear works better in elections.

It’s hard to fear abstract things like federal budget deficits.  So we hear things like passing on debt to our children, or even losing our freedom, and our cherished constitution (I don’t really see the connection, but I’ve heard a lot of people try to make it).

To quote Arnold Schwarzenegger, all this talk from ‘economic girly men’ is working (along with the real facts about economic hard times).

Consider this:

U.S. Birth Rate Hits Record Low, Experts Say Recession To Blame

I try to be an optimist — so I recommend young families to do what Republicans would probably warn against:  have babies!

There’s a good chance they will, as adults, become members of a birth trough generation, and benefit from being one of the lucky few.

Sure, they may struggle, and the children may not live luxurious childhoods, but think of the opportunity.

Malcolm Gladwell offers a fascinating discussion of birth troughs in Outliers.

He talks about people who were born in the depths of The Great Depression.  They had rough childhoods and many spent time overseas, fighting a World War.  But the ones who survived prospered in the long run.  They had smaller class sizes, got lots of attention, and had less competition for good jobs.

That may be the case now.