Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Welcome Deebadaba

Our gardener and his wife, Tom and Martha, either foolhardy or clever at delegating, had told Hillary and me that they’d be honored if we would name their baby. A week before we returned from our trip, Martha had the baby in a typical African style, with an ease that infuriated Hillary.

I remember when we were ready, practicing the drive from our house to the hospital, our parents calling every hour or two to check in on how we were doing. We had rehearsed and practiced every step. We had taken classes and had a bag packed by the door with clothes, snacks and toiletries like we were voyaging on the QE2. We had carefully honed our “birth plan” on how every detail should unfold. Hillary was in labor for 12 hours, and everything in our world, rather the whole world, came to a grinding halt, as well it should, so Hillary could give birth. We spent two nights in the hospital, carefully attended by around-the-clock nurses who saw to our every need, with doctors continuously checking in.

Martha and Tom, on the other hand, grabbed a cab to Muhimbili Hospital last Friday morning. She had three hours of labor, a new son, and was home that afternoon. Nothing to it. And then they sat around for a week taking care of “baby”, since we hadn’t offered up a name.

Tom presented the hospital bill to me afterwards. It was a grand total of $115 and included $50 for delivery and $50 for doctors’ fees. Just like going out for a nice dinner in the U.S. No big deal.

We had decided that rather than just name the kid, since that had the potential to create all sorts of negotiating havoc in our marriage, we would offer a short list from which they could choose. Bodie also wanted to offer up a few names. We prepared our list and Bodie offered up his: Cee-cee, Deebadaba, Sno Sna, Max and Diego. (Which reminded me that our nephew, Noah, was more rightfully named Rocket Boy Weinstein by his brothers.)

We presented the names – the real list and Bodie’s list – to Tom and Martha. Tom read each option to Martha. Minutes passed. Tom poured over the list and was quiet. Martha was quiet. We realized they thought they had to choose one of each. They finally smiled, clearly with relief, when we explained that Bodie’s names were to be funny. I could imagine their wondering how they would explain to their relatives in Malawi why their beautiful son had a name fabricated by a three-year-old.

Of the names on the list, the OT names offered up (Isaac and Jacob) had already been taken by one of their brothers or sisters. Neither Henry nor Edward was picked. Welcome to the world, Christian. To us, you will always be Deebadaba.

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