Христос Воскресе!

Woke up to one cold “Christ is Risen” here in Moscow:

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Mom tries to take a much-deserved nap; it was not too successful.

Mom tries to take a much-deserved nap; it was not too successful.

Tryphon's second favorite place.

Tryphon's second favorite place.

The nurses just knew that the child was a born reader and hence the surname "Books."

The nurses just knew that the child was a born reader and hence the surname "Books."

At a mere 14 days old Tryphon has learned how to forage for food:

The Earl of Kueckham

Seven days following the passing of one year of my wife and my legal union (and exactly 10 months following  our Sacramental union) I am now proud to announce that my wife has been eased of her burden, that is, the formerly spoken of Marquess of Kueckingborough has at long last moved into that realm beyond his mother’s womb. On Wednesday, March 12/25, the feast day of St. Symeon the New Theologian and St. Gregory Pope of Rome, at 15:20, a son, Tryphon (pronounced “treefuhn,” stress on ee), was delivered by cesarean section, weighed in at 8.59 pounds, and measured 21.25 inches.

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And now for an adventure in birthing in Russia…

As you all now, the whole thing started about 9 months ago…but we’ll skip ahead to the 16th week of pregnancy when Sveta couldn’t stand it anymore and had to have that ultrasound. You have also already seen said ultrasound here, but what at that time I did not say was that little Triphon was sitting upright (that is, in the so-called breech position) like any obedient child does. Little did I know that my “Of course he’s sitting up, who wouldn’t sit up, it’s the reasonable thing to do!” quip would turn into the bane of birthgiving.

When we made it to the 32nd week we started worrying about this too obedient kid, and Sveta started doing those crazy exercises to encourage him to turn around. At this point I’ll say that if you go to almost any birthing hospital in Russia with a breech baby they’ll give you a cesarean faster than you can say cesarean. Of course, wanting to avoid this, we also made the rounds to osteopaths who were known for encouraging unreasonableness in womb-dwellers.

However, little Tryphon, being my very own, would not stand for this. Thus began the mad search for a doctor that would accept a breech baby.

Now is the time to tell you about birthing hospitals in Russia. Giving birth is covered under the umbrella of medical services that every Russian citizen (except males) has a right to and is, therefore, free. That being said, when the crash of capitalism made its way into Russian hospitals they started signing contracts with patients for better medical services (where, previously, such service was all and underhand undertaking).

Previously, we had decided that we were going to give birth with a midwife, but in the safety of a hospital, through a fairly recent program called “natural birth giving.” However, such programs in Moscow are only two.

In a moment of despair my wife started searching the internet and asking various and sundry for advice and received the name and contacted a midwife, who had delivered breech babies through one of these programs. She, in turn, contacted a doctor to ask her to accept Sveta as a patient. And we thought all that was left was to wait a few more weeks…

And then the supposed date came…and went. The following day, at being examined by the doctor, Sveta was told that if she didn’t give birth in a week it was the dreaded hospitalization (aka cesarean). And the week went…

The doctor reasured us later that this did not absolutely mean a cesarean but, however, changed her mind quickly and by Tuesday, obviously not patient enough, she scheduled a cesarean for Thursday morning.

Knowing that there was nothing to be done we resigned ourselves and Sveta begged the doctor to at least let me if not be present then see them afterward. (Normally, at births that are by contract the father can be present but for the last month there has been a quarantine at birthing hospitals because of the “flu outbreak.”) The doctor had somewhat agreed to my being let in after the fact, and we were thankful for that at least. (We, by the way, had weeks before purchased a complete surgical outfit for myself in the hope that if I wasn’t let in I might be able to pass as just another nurse.)

Providence, however, was not given to a birth on a Thursday. I received a slightly confusing sms early afternoon Wednesday stating that they were going to now “operate” on Sveta with a “bad ekg.” This is the place where a period makes all the difference. What I interpreted as Sveta being giving a big, bad ekg should have been read that they are operating on Sveta because of a bad ekg. While they said that it was a bad ekg, I have my suspicions that they just wanted to get it over with and cesareanate (it’s a verb in Russian, why not in English?).

So I, having just arrived at the office, rushed away (in a snow storm, by the way) and across town on that marvel of efficiency, the metro, reached the hospital, rang the bell to tell the nurse that I had been allowed to be let in right after the birth, and waited the verdict.

I lost track of time but it was probably 45 minutes to an hour when the nurse let me in and showed me the scrubs to put on. While I recognized immediately how the scrubs should be put on (that is, like a backward jacket) (as would anyone who’s seen ER once in their life), this nurse thought it looked better like a flimsy raincoat so I didn’t argue.

And thus:

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Appendix: Though our child was born, as I said, on the feast of St. Symeon and St. Gregory, we chose to name him after St. Tryphon who is commemorated on February 1/14, (not in honor of Troy Polamalu, but as St. Tryphon has been a particular intercessor before God for us).

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The Martyr Tryphon was born in one of the districts of Asia Minor – Phrygia, not far from the city of Apameia in the village of Kampsada. From his early years the Lord granted him the power to cast out devils and to heal various maladies. The inhabitants of his native city were once saved by him from starvation: Saint Tryphon by the power of his prayer forced back a plague of locusts that were devouring the bread grain and devastating the fields. Saint Tryphon gained particular fame by casting out a devil from the daughter of the Roman emperor Gordian (238-244). Helping everyone in distress, he asked but one fee – faith in Jesus Christ, by Whose grace he healed them.

When the emperor Decius (249-251) entered upon the imperial throne, there was a fierce persecution of Christians. A denunciation was made to the commander Akelinos that Saint Tryphon was bolding preaching faith in Christ and that he led many to Baptism. The saint was arrested and subjected to interrogation, at the time of which he fearlessly confessed his faith. They subjected him to harsh tortures: they beat at him with clubs, lacerated his body with iron hooks, they seared the wounds with fire, and led him through the city, having hammered iron nails into his feet. Saint Tryphon bravely endured all the torments, not giving out a single whimper. Finally, he was condemned to beheading with a sword. The holy martyr prayed before the execution, thanking God for strengthening him in his sufferings, and he besought of the Lord in particular to bless those who should call upon his name for help. Just as the soldiers suspended the sword over the head of the holy martyr, he placed his soul into the hands of God. This event occurred in the city of Nicea in the year 250. Christians wound the holy body of the martyr in a clean shroud and wanted to bury him in the city of Nicea, in which he suffered, but Saint Tryphon in a vision commanded them to take his body to his native land to the village of Kampsada. This was done.

Later on the relics of Saint Tryphon were transferred to Constantinople, and then to Rome. The holy martyr is accorded great veneration in the Russian Orthodox Church.

There exists a legend, that during the reign of tsar Ivan the Terrible at the time of an imperial hunt, a gerfalcon beloved by the tsar flew off. The tsar ordered the falconer Tryphon Patrikeev to find the flown off bird. The falconer Tryphon journeyed about through the surrounding forest, but without luck. On the third day, exhausted by long searching, he returned to Moscow to the place now called Mar’ina Grove, and in weariness he lay down to rest, fervently praying to his patron saint – the Martyr Tryphon, beseeching him for help. In a dream he saw a youth on a white horse, holding on his hand the imperial gerfalcon, and this youth said: “Take back the lost bird, go with God to the tsar and be not aggrieved about it”. Having awakened, the falconer actually spotted the gerfalcon not far off on a pine tree. He then took it to the tsar and told about the miraculous help, received by him from the holy Martyr Tryphon. After a certain while the falconer Triphon Patrikeev built a chapel on the spot where the saint appeared, and later on also there was a church in the name of the holy Martyr Tryphon.

The unreasonable shopper

I’d like to introduce you to the bane of any sensible shopper:

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That’s right, it’s a shopping cart (or a buggy if that’s how you please). You may have noticed but if not I will give you a closer glimpse of just what this plague consists of:

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…That’s right, four wheels that rotate. You think, “that’s an excellent idea! It would make maneuvering that cart a breeze!” I would agree with you were it not for the fact that Russians, like hamsters, have no depth perception and, worse, practically don’t care if they run into you with a freewheeling shopping cart full of their latest purchase of Euro-styles.