I’ll come when I’m ready

I’ll come when I’m ready

Martial law enforcers - October 1979
Martial law enforcers - October 1979

The fall of 1978 found us still living in Isfahan, Iran – but not quite so comfortably as we had been.  Politically, the country was in constant turmoil.  We were living under martial law, which meant we had to be in our house between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.  Martial law also restricted public meetings to groups of three or less, so our church meetings had been canceled.  We knew from shopping trips out and about the city, that some bank buildings had been hit with firebombs and occasionally we could hear rioting in the distance.  Sporadic power outages were common, and it was not unusual to be without power for the whole night.  Our parents were very concerned about us living under those conditions; they got their information from television news, and the media coverage was a bit disturbing!  We too were beginning to feel the stress of the political upheaval, although we had not witnessed or experienced any problems personally.

In the midst of all this chaos, we learned that we would be welcoming a new baby into the family around March 28, and we were excited!  I remember being a little intimidated about having three kids, since that would mean the parents were outnumbered by the children; but Emily was gradually maturing into a more reasonable pre-schooler and Nathan was showing signs of better behavior.  It’s interesting to me that as I look back, my memory is that I was more concerned about handling three kids than I was about giving birth in a country that was on the verge of civil war!

Christmas Day, 1978
Christmas Day, 1978

Although this picture is poor quality, you can still tell that the faux fur collar remained a wardrobe staple – the wrap style made it a perfect fit for my expanding mid section.

We had plans to spend Christmas in Germany with Carolyn and Stephen who were stationed there, and then go on to the States.  Don would stay just a couple of weeks and then return to Iran to complete his contract, while the kids and I would live with my parents until after the baby was born and Don returned.  We all decided that the restrictions of martial law would make a potential middle of the night trip to the hospital challenging.  We couldn’t be out during the curfew hours, but we had no phone to call for a police escort and none of us was interested in a home birth!

The war refugee and his prenant wife
The war refugee and his pregnant wife

That plan worked pretty much as outlined.  by the time baby #3 was due, Don was back from Iran, working between San Diego and Chicago preparing for our new assignment in Saudi Arabia.  He was home for occasional weekends, but I knew the chance of him missing this delivery were high.  As the due date approached, my doctor and I agreed that since Don would be home the weekend that the baby was due, I would have labor induced so that Don could be here for that event.  But when that weekend arrived, neither Dr. Westrup nor I really wanted to go through with that.  I kept thinking that when the baby was ready, he would come, and I didn’t have the right to hurry the process for my convenience.

The weekend passed without any labor pains and Monday was uneventful as well.  Due to a United Airlines strike, Don’s return to Chicago had been delayed until Monday evening, but that still wasn’t enough time.  My dad drove Don to the airport and didn’t start back until Don had called back to check on me around 10:30.  It was a terse conversation that went something like this (imagine Don speaking in a kind and concerned voice and me responding through gritted teeth, furious that this was happening):

“So I’m here at the airport, and before your dad leaves I just want to make sure nothing’s going on.”

“Nothing’s going on.”

“If you think it might be tonight, I can come back to Greeley with him.”

“It’s not tonight.  Quit asking me!  Just get on the airplane and go.”

However, before my dad returned to Greeley an hour later, I was timing contractions and getting ready to go to the hospital!  Mom took me to the hospital, and sat with me through an almost painless labor process.  I think that was my reward for going on my own – the contractions really didn’t hurt!  But because of the logistics of this birth, none of us thought to take a camera to the hospital, and Mark’s first pictures weren’t taken until three days later.

The mother doesn't look great, but the baby is darling!
The mother doesn't look great, but the baby is darling!

At 4:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 3, Mark made his appearance – all 8 pound 10 ounces of darling little boy!  When I called the Telemedia office in Chicago to share the good news, Don hadn’t even arrived there yet so it was a couple more hours before he knew that he had missed the whole show.  And knowing how Don loves to be a part of childbirth, I could almost think he planned it that way!

And as with his brother and sister, Mark was welcomed into the family and adored from the beginning.  From a letter to Don:

April 8, 1979 – Emily and Nathan are so cute with baby Mark.  Of course Emily thinks she can do anything and everything for him.  She’s real sweet with him and doesn’t seem to be jealous.  And Nate is just his usual self.  He came in the house after church this morning and hollered down the stairs, “Where’s my little brother?”  I told him Mark was in bed, and his reply was, “I need to hold him.”

And does it get much cuter than this?

3 months old
3 months old

5 months old
5 months old

First passpor picture - December 1979
First passport picture - December 1979
Iranian Born Boy

Iranian Born Boy

First Passport Picture
Nathan's First Passport Picture

As I look back at the years of my adult life, I am kind of amazed at some of the things I have experienced.  Some might call me brave and adventurous, but others will consider my choices irresponsible and stupid!  And at any given time, I could agree with either of those opinions.

On February 2, 1977, I added another item to my list of adventures when I gave birth in the foreign (and I mean FOREIGN) country of Iran.   Call it crazy or call me courageous, we were thrilled to welcome a new little boy – even if he was considered a dual national for about 16 years.

This was the view from my hospital room – very foreign as were some of the procedures.

Sepahan Hospital - Isfahan, Iran
Sepahan Hospital - Isfahan, Iran

About two weeks before Nathan was born, Don and I went to a pharmacy, prescription from Dr. Shams in hand, and bought all of the supplies and medication I would need for labor and delivery.  We left the pharmacy with a bag filled with shots, pills, and IV materials, having spent only $9.00.  What a bargain!  Upon my arrival at the hospital, I handed over my bag of goodies to the attending nurse, and we were set.

Inside the hospital, my room was very typical and was cleaned regularly – like at all hours of the day and night.  However, the communal bathroom designated for my use was wa-a-a-a-a-y down the hall, and the broken toilet seat and blood on the floor made me question my sanity.  Why exactly did I decide not to return to Colorado to have this baby?

My room in Sepahan Hospital
My room in Sepahan Hospital
My doctor looks rather foreign, but was very competent.  And I just look bad!
Dr. Shams - Iranian obstetrician
Dr. Shams - Iranian obstetrician
Thousands of miles from Colorado and with no telephone service available, the only way to announce our newest arrival was with a telegram.
Announcing Nathan's arrival
Announcing Nathan's arrival

We wanted all the family to see how cute our little boy was.  So we sent lots of pictures and wished the grandmas could adore him in person.

Nathan - 6 hours old
Nathan - 6 hours old

Proud Daddy Don
Proud Daddy Don

While we were doing all the paperwork to be discharged from the hospital, Nate reached his limit and began crying almost inconsolably.  As I had made it very clear from the time I was checked into the hospital that this would be a bottle-fed baby, I asked one of the nurses to bring me a bottle for him.  Her response in broken English, “Oh, no missus.  You feed.”  I replied that I was not feeding, and hadn’t they been giving him bottles in the nursery?  Again the response, “Oh, no missus.  You feed.”  When I insisted, one of the staff finally showed up with a bottle that was so dirty it looked like it had been rolled through the “jube” or gutter.  The hole in the nipple was so large that when I tipped the bottle, the milk ran out of it in a steady stream.  Horrified, I set the bottle aside and decided that listening to Nathan scream was a far better alternative.  I refused to allow myself to wonder what he’d been fed in the nursery.

Heading home
Heading home

We were relieved to leave the hospital for the security of our own home, and felt that the Lord had truly taken care of both Nathan and Mom.

What a sweet welcoming committee awaited us.

Welcoming Nate to the family
Emily welcoming Nate to the family

Happy Birthday, Nate!

Not without our daughter

Not without our daughter

. . . so we took her with us.  To Iran in 1976.  I know – what were we thinking?

With these fresh-from-BYU faces

don-passport . . . . . . . . lynn-passport

mounted inside these official documents

passports-3jpg

we began our 10 year Middle East adventure on January 27, 1976 .

We said good bye in Pueblo.

grandparents-butler

We said good bye in Greeley.

grandma-joyce

We were off to make a home in a country that I had only been able to locate on a Bible map.

Denver Stapleton Airport departure
Denver Stapleton Airport departure

Yes, that’s a leisure suit Don is wearing.  What else would match my faux fur collar?  It was 1976, and we were at the height of fashion.

Don had accepted a job teaching English to Iranian Army helicopter pilots and mechanics in training in Isfahan, Iran.  The salary was $1000 a month plus a 40% cost of living allowance – an incomprehensible amount of money to these married college students who had been living on about $270 a month in a basement apartment in Provo, Utah.

We landed in Tehran and spent a few days in the capital before traveling to Isfahan – the city that would be our home for the next three years.  The first day in Tehran, I forced us to be up and awake in an attempt to win the battle against jet-lag.  When I pulled back the drapes in our hotel room and was greeted by this sight, I wondered if lack of sleep had caused me to hallucinate.  Was that really the hotel laundry drying on the roof?

Sina Hotel Laundry Facilities
Sina Hotel Laundry Facilities

Upon our arrival in Isfahan, we worked with a real estate agent and located a brand new building with apartments to rent.  We rented the upstairs flat (3 bedrooms) for 28,000 rials or $400/month. The Iranians take the term “unfurnished” very literally – the only appliances included were a water heater and a swamp cooler.  No heat, no stove, no refrigerator. . .

1st-house-in-iranEmily and I posing in our living room window

Shortly after moving in to our house, we rented a car from some fellow Americans.  At 6,000 rials or $85/month it was a real bargain and renting would give us the chance to see if we wanted to depend on taxis or have the luxury of our own transportation.  A couple of months later, we purchased the car , a 1961 Volkswagen Beetle, for $1000 – no extra charge for rust or dents.

1959 Beetle
unsafe at any speed

The first few months (actually about a year!) were rough for me, as I was desperately homesick and realizing that $1000/month didn’t make anybody rich, regardless of location.  However, eventually I came to appreciate the adventure and life experience this move allowed.  Some of the friendships we nurtured in that very foreign country have continued over the last 3+ decades, and we have some very happy memories of our years in Iran.

And if these pictures don’t make you laugh, I’ve got more to come.