We devoted the spring and summer of 1991 to what Olivia would call “nesting”—preparing the nest for our new arrival. We had already enclosed our yard with a chain-link fence when we got the dogs the year before. Now we enclosed the entire pasture as well. We put in an automatic sprinkler system in April, and then, to top it off, we installed a deck overlooking the river with a cascade of steps leading down to the river’s edge. Sally had wisely planned a sabbatical leave in the spring quarter.
Emmet Winkle von Stackelberg was born on Saturday, September 7th, 1991, at 1:40 p.m. after five hours of hard labor. He weighed 6 pounds, 7 ounces, and was 20 inches long.
We named him after his great-great-great-great-granduncle Robert Temple Emmet, the Irish patriot and revolutionary who was executed at the age of twenty-five by the British in Dublin in 1803.
Emmet is also a direct descendant of another Irish immigrant, William James of Albany (1771-1832), his great-great-great-great grandfather who was also the grandfather of our famous cousins, the philosopher William James (1842-1910) and the novelist Henry James (1843-1916).
Emmet’s birth was induced because Sally’s doctors feared, groundlessly as it turned out, that he might not be getting enough nourishment in the womb. It left us feeling rather helpless in the face of high technology, which seemed to turn up more problems than it solved. Sally bore her labor with exemplary fortitude, refusing all anesthesia and rejecting her doctor’s offer to do a Caesarian section to spare her further pain. Baby Emmet did fine throughout the pregnancy and birth, as attested by the high-tech devices that monitored his vital signs.
The birth was originally scheduled to be induced on September 6th. We got up at 5 a.m. to prepare to go to the hospital at 6 as instructed. However, due to several emergencies, the birthing center at Sacred Heart Medical Center could not receive Sally until late in the morning. Since she had requested a minimum of medical intervention, the doctors decided to induce labor by breaking her membranes. This proved impractical, however, due to the fact that her cervix was not yet sufficiently dilated. Because Emmet’s heartbeat rose as a result of the medical intrusion, the doctors decided against using prostaglandin to dilate the cervix and opted for a slow dose of pitocin, which was administered intravenously all night from the 6th to the 7th.
At 8:30 Saturday morning Sally’s membranes were broken, and she immediately went into hard labor. Within an hour her cervix had dilated to the maximum extent, and Emmet’s birth seemed imminent. The nurses rushed the necessary utensils and receptacles for birth into the room. At the same time the head nurse decided to cut off the pitocin to slow down the contractions. This proved to be an unfortunate decision, as the contractions, while still painful, failed to move the baby down. For three hours there was very little movement, and the doctors and nurses were beginning to mention the dreaded word, C-section. Then, despite her exhaustion, Sally offered to change into a squatting position to facilitate the baby’s movement. After one more hour of intense pushing, the delivery was accomplished, and Emmet gave his first cry to the relief and elation of his parents and birth helpers. An intensive care nurse stood by just in case the baby needed special attention. This proved to be unnecessary, however, as Emmet scored a nine for fitness on a scale of ten, missing a perfect score only because of some blue in hands and feet, which occurs quite normally in 90 per cent of all births. Emmet was born to the music of Chopin, which we had taped specially for the occasion. Throughout the day doctors and nurses making their rounds paused in the doorway to listen to the music. The attending physician, Dr. Budenholzer, paid us a big compliment: “What a lucky baby to have such parents!”
Emmet and his mother came home the following day, less than twenty-four hours after his birth. During the first two weeks he was a reasonably placid infant, though he suffered occasional bouts of colic. Sally nursed him every three or four hours. By the second week he was sleeping six hours a night. His grandparents, Amy and Carl Winkle, visited from September 15th through the 20th. His nineteen-year-old brother Nick, my son by my marriage to Steffi, was in Spokane from September 16th to 20th, before returning to the University of Washington in Seattle for his junior year in civil engineering. Emmet’s twenty-five-year-old sister Trina lived in Cambridge and worked as an environmental risk assessment consultant.
Emmet and his parents received numerous cards and presents from family and friends. Several friends had already visited Sally and Emmet in the hospital, including Lisa Brown, whose son Lucas would be born on February 28th the following year. Lisa spent the night before Emmet’s birth at the hospital to keep Sally company, while I went home to tend the dogs and get some sleep. Other visitors were Olivia Caulliez, Ursula Hege, Gordon Gagliano, Nancy Nelson, Marion Dumoulin, and Tom and Esther Karier with their six-month-old son Marco. For many years Emmet would be part of a triumvirate of friends, separated by six months each from the older Marco and the younger Lucas. Mike and Gail Gurian and their baby daughter Gabrielle came after church on Sunday only to discover that we had already gone home!
In the summer of 1992 we took our first trip abroad with the new infant. Before his twentieth birthday in September 2011, Emmet had been to Germany a full dozen times! In July 1992 we traveled to Baden-Baden, where Sally attended the annual conference of the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG).
Emmet was a great hit in Karlsruhe.
On our return we visited Vermont in time to celebrate Olaf’s 60th birthday, which also provided an occasion to celebrate Mama’s 80th. We usually celebrated her January 20th birthday in the summer when the weather was more hospitable to family gatherings.
That fall we invited our new friends, Heidi Gann and my colleague Paul DePalma, for Thanksgiving.