It’s been a roller coaster week with two clients starting work and one moving toward closure on priorities and a quick trip to Phoenix in time for seeing little Reilly Herron Solonche come into our life. It was hot in Seattle and even hotter in Phoenix, so my awareness is a fugue of themes including global warming, design, international cinema and forest restoration and renewal, and new life.
I’m filled with the experience of how completely Reilly has trumped all my other thoughts and feelings. She is the first daughter of Jerda Marie Solonche, Susan and my youngest.
Jerda and Jamie had a challenge getting pregnant, finally succeeded and are extremely happy about this birth. That it went beautifully is a blessing. Their pediatrician, Dr. Guzman, is about the most helpful, friendly doctor I’ve ever met, and the Mountain View Medical Center here in Mesa, Arizona, is a like a new, grand hotel. It’s a privileged way to come into the world.
It was driving back and forth from our hotel in Chandler, just south of Phoenix where J&J live, that I kept thinking about the kind of world Reilly is entering. Phoenix is advertised by the local magazine as the United States’ fifth biggest city. It’s huge, and miles and miles of similar styled architecture gives it an even more endless feeling. But was the 114 degree heat that kept getting my attention, and my persistent wondering about water. I grew up in the high desert in Eastern California and have followed our water policies in the west. They make very little sense if you are thinking about grandchildren and generations to come. They make sense if you are a developer interested in immediate profits, supported by easy credit and people escaping the cold. Warmth is part of what is attractive, but it’s getting hotter, and the credit game is over. The sporadic vistas of development projects stopped cold lent a fragile and eerie feeling to the landscape.
I kept thinking of the ancient Anasazi civilitation that once lived in this region, and disappeared, wiped out some think by changing weather. What is the fate of this place, epicenter of the housing crash? It’s painful to know that dealing with it is part of what Reilly and her family face, and Susan and I too, since we are connected directly.
Back in the air-conditioned room of the hospital with little Reilly, these thoughts disappeared. We sat and took turns holding her. She slept deeply. I got to hear all the stories as phone calls arrived and Jerda and Jamie shared their experience. Slow, careful induction process. Cervix wouldn’t dialate. Water broken. Hard labor for several hours. Epidurals. Watching the monitors. Worry about declining heart rates in the birth canal during contractions. Pushing. She finally came at 3:15 in the early morning—6 lbs. 7 oz., a handful of miracle all pink and round. As we talked I could feel my chest vibrating with my voice, and wondered if this sound was soaking into some part of her psyche – being held by Papa David. She already knows the smells and sounds of her mother, and was first held by her father after delivery while Dr. Guzman was stitching up some of the tears. Could she be held too much? No way we all agreed.
On our way back to the hotel the evening sky had towering thunderclouds. Then we saw it—a rainbow connecting the heavens with the fiery earth. Minutes later we had a burst of rain, and then more rainbow as we walked to dinner. It seemed liked mother nature was matching our mood and providing a good omen for this child’s birth—the covenant that no matter how dark things seem, life and wonder will persist.
That first night back at the hotel Susan and I ended up in a room on the ground floor of the San Marcos, a beautiful, aging resort hotel in Chandler, clearly intended to be a destination for cold northerners in the winter, and pretty empty here in the summer. We turned off the noisy air conditioner for a bit around 9:00, and then tried to turn it back on at 10:00. It wouldn’t go on. We'll wait, we thought, it will turn on. It didn’t. We spent a night in 85+ degree heat, inside! It was hotter outside. The miles and miles of asphalt everywhere retained the heat and bounced it back all evening, so opening the windows wasn’t an option. I was back in my thoughts about civilizations and their decline. We are so dependent and hopeful about our machines. Machines, new life, machines, new life. We need them both. What is one without the other? After all they were partly responsible for Reilly’s smooth appearance in this world.
Day two Reilly was already changing. She learned to nurse. She slept. We held her again—for hours. Then in the afternoon she had a really long stretch of nursing.
The rich colostrum left her animated and full of life and wanting more. Now comes all the learning about how to be a mother and child and new parents and nursing and changing and having your life transformed. What a blessing to spend this time with family at a time like this.
At one point Reilly was in her little crib after being changed. She was stretching out her feet and arms, reaching into this new world. I touched her little toes and she stopped moving, and then pushed a bit back. I let myself imagine having first experiences of my feet being touched. How amazing, these gifts we are given, these bodies. What a treat to be with this beginner’s mind.
This day as we drove back to the hotel the heavens again filled with thunder, but this time the night sky sheeted with lightening, time and again in glorious applause. Rain drenched the hot land and steamed in the roadway, wrapping us in its humidity. No wonder the people on this land thought there were thunder beings in the heavens, and danced to the rain beings. This land is alive. We are alive. Reilly is alive. And wonder is afoot this evening.
Our air conditioner was fixed when we arrived home. We slept in full gratitude.