U-Turn-A Brother for Quinn

Ian’s Birth

I first explored the wonders of ultrasound through pictures taken of my second and third grandchildren while they still inhabited the world of inner space.  The boy, Jeremy, curled up innocently in his black world but over his head was a hand with the middle finger giving, what seemed to us, a first opinion of the outer realm. However, the girl Quinn, waved one delicate hand like a beauty queen surveying her world.  And so it proved to be as they grew into toddler-hood. Jeremy was born into a world where he was given early and amazing intelligence but not the gift of speech to match (or at least not fast enough to suit him.) He saw, he observed, he discovered but the words didn’t come to express all he observed. On good days he threw his chubby arms up in delight declaring, “Trees, Trees, Trees.” Or observing a flock of birds announced, “Four birds.” On the not so good, he gave us and the world his decided and very loud opinion of all that was wrong. This opinion of angst most often expressed itself with ear splitting screaming of the toddler variety. Now he is charming and calm and expresses a whimsical and unusual view of the world through his online comics.

As for Quinn, she greeted everybody with a cheerful wave and smiles of delight. Most often dressed like a fairy, she pranced around loving every minute of her day. But baby Quinn did not charm when she was hungry. Then she could put Jeremy to shame. He was the more stolid one in the face of imminent starvation. So when Quinn ramped up into her red faced roar combined with flailing arms and legs, he put one large arm across her body and hoped that rescue was coming before she pummeled him into screaming rage. They were all delight for each other, however. As toddlers they ran laughing through their world and played their private games.

Then came the time when Quinn’s world got ready for a new inhabitant. This time I got to watch my very first ultrasound.  The poem below expresses the amazement I felt at seeing a child’s first world.


 Pulsing, beating,

vision of the rhythm

life dark ventricles

a heart speaking into

the room of life

eyes wide open to

the darkness within

the sheltered womb

yet watching

A life there visible

waits for the clock

to chime the time

of arrival a chime

not heard but felt

Small fingers dance

try movement

the ears listen to

a Mother’s heart

No fetus this

no simple, single word

but breathing, beating

pulsing witness

to continued mornings

time unbounded

leaping through, forming

bones into years

not even imagined

yet already spinning

into being

 Janice DeRuiter

The Birth

Labor began. The journey to the hospital completed. Quinn and I went home to wait accompanied by these orders; when the call came I was to dash to the hospital with Quinn looking cute for pictures. Now you may remember what happens to Miss Q when she’s hungry. As luck would have it the call came at 6 AM. I woke up the princess. But I was at the ready with a granola bar to shove in her hand. THIS CHILD IS NOT A MORNING PERSON.  However I cajoled, smiled and played games invented at just that moment. Somehow we got us both dressed and out the door. The ride to the hospital was short nevertheless Miss Q took the trip with food in hand. By the time we got to the hospital, Quinn had reached her full powers and her penchant for charming people kicked in. She announced to anyone within ear shot that she was going to have a baby.

On the maternity floor Quinn and I huddled with the other grandparents waiting for the first wail. The other grandparents were not prepared for what we heard. Raging screaming erupted from the birthing room. Ian had arrived and evidently he felt it was his duty as his Dad’s first son to immolate his Father’s rage at being so unceremoniously dumped out of his peaceful place. When we got to the room, Ian was under a warming lamp screaming and flailing his extreme displeasure. There I saw a miniature replica of his Dad with red face, broad shoulders and all movable body parts doing their own separate dances. I am delighted to report that like his Dad he got his angst out at birth and became a delightful person.

For Ian

Birth is a journey on a road

that has no known ending

a road where only dreams are certain.

Too early for the first pale hint of day

a birth road spins away

under the wheels of time

Into the new day of another boy.

And we discover that this road

repeats again and again

until all the birth roads are tangled

like ribbons torn off of Christmas gifts.

The ribbons join as one.

And the tears of death

are lost as they travel down

the winding highways

of faces filled with joy.

janice de ruiter

  As it seems to happen with me, this birth poem for Ian unwittingly echoed one I’d written for his Dad when we made the journey that started his life as a college student.


Memories circle,

ribbons in the air,


Images of a child

drift in the wind.

The first moment

a night child

wet alarm

at midnight

our last born

a sunrise boy

trails across

another moment

just before dawn

when sea and sky

are one

their intersection traced

by a ribbon of city lights.

Our car on

another night journey

the first of final moments.

The ribbons twist


in the dawn

with other roads

of grey night

ending in

uncompleted birth.

Now he stands:

ballons of

green and gold

rising overhead.

Blowing robe,

a flying hat

saluted with

a smile, a wave,

a quick, Good-bye.

Still that first

of final moments

as we crossed the bridge

which led our car

away from night

towards mountains

shadowed against

a lightening sky

leaves a shining trail,

a golden strand of city lights,

among the ribbons trailing

across my mind.

            Janice DeRuiter

About Winding Stream Press

Janice DeRuiter Eskridge, M.F.A. is a poet who worked for over a decade as a poet-teacher for California Poets in the Schools. Helen Shoemaker, Ph.D. L.M.F.T. is a university professor who teaches in the areas of child development and counseling. She is also a therapist in private practice.
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2 Responses to U-Turn-A Brother for Quinn

  1. Jan, your stories of family life and the poetry they inspire capture so much of what is right…beauty, love and the life sustaining bonds of family, just wonderful art.


    • Thank you. We’ve been through enough stuff as a family to treasure what we have. I as the ‘Bamma’ am the chronicler of the entwining similarities of generations. I am delighted to see that my chronicles became more than the simple celebrations of birth that blossomed with every new grandchild.

      *Janice DeRuiter*

      uphill we walk into rarified air here the air thins until all that’s left is breathing and short gasps of blue-green words


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