Wednesday, April 1, 2009


“Bree, give me Little Stephen” Pasquale instructs from over the Neonatal fence. (He pronounces my name like the cheese – I take it as a compliment; as for Baby Stephen, it’s “Little Stephen” from the Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band).

In the distance, I hear a sheep desperately crying.

“Her lamb is dead. She aborted” Pasquale explains as he throws Baby Stephen in the desperate mother’s direction.

Stephen tumbles; the sheep walks right by him. “I should put the dead lamb’s skin on him” Pasquale says more to himself than me. He throws Baby Stephen once again at the sheep’s feet.

This time she notices the infant. Baby Stephen gains his bearing and immediately looks for a teat.

The pair is placed in private quarters made from hay bale walls. Pasquale checks on them sometime later, “A happy couple. Good mother. She accepted.”

As far as Baby Stephen is concerned, he now has a mother. As far as the mother is concerned, it’s her baby’s Birthday.


Seventeen years ago today another sweet mother delivered her first baby in Finland. Baby Joonas was three weeks early; expecting a later arrival, Pasquale the father was still in Italy. Marjatta took a taxi to the hospital. She thought it was a funny April Fools.

Today Joonas plays soccer and like many teenagers, eats pizza, drinks Coca-Cola, and wears the hood on his sweatshirt. Amelia his sister decorates the cake. We all sing “Tanti Auguri” to the tune of Happy Birthday.

I just love Birthdays!

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