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Rivka Turns Three

She’s a three-nager now.

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Xiamen, China, 2015

“You either give me another baby or I’m going to find someone who will.”

She was serious, standing in front of me with a serious look on her face topping off a serious conversation about a serious topic.

She wanted another baby and was willing to divorce me to get one.

Fair enough, that’s what’s impasses in marriage are about: you stand toe-to-toe and find out who wants it more, then adapt and adjust. In this impasse my wife clearly wanted it more …

Bangor, Maine, 2018

My youngest daughter is now three years old. Three years ago today I watched a YouTube video about how to give an injection as I injected my wife’s butt with penicillin.

It was three years ago today that the baby almost came out before the midwife could arrive. I wanted to do it myself and I almost got my wish. I laid on the mattress that we laid out on the living room floor together with Hannah. She clenched my arm and wouldn’t let me go. I barked orders to five year old Petra to go and fetch me needed things. I held Hannah as she twisted and squirmed. She was saying “I can’t do this,” but of course I knew she could. She’s done this before so I laughed and stayed calm.

It was important for me that Petra was a full participant in the birth. Her grandmother kept trying to take her outside but I would yell for her to come back in. She was my right hand man. I needed her. She had a role to play.

The head was crowning as the midwife rushed in. “She’s having this baby right now,” was the first thing she said.

I have to admit that it was a good thing she showed up. It was the eleventh hour, sure, but she made it just in time to unravel the umbilical cord that was wrapped around Rivka’s neck. She flipped her upside down and twisted her like a screw as she squirted out, deftly unraveling the cord in one fluid motion. It was something masterful. Rivka was saved. I’m not sure if I could have done it.

Then Rivka got her name.

We didn’t really discuss naming her too seriously before she was born, but this was no problem for Petra. She had a name all prepared. She astutely opened the slimy, red newborn’s legs, identified it as female, and then stood over top of the shaking little thing, pointed down at its terrified little face and declared, “Rivka! Your name is Rivka!”

There was no going back.


Rivka is now three years old. She couldn’t walk on her birthday because her leg was injured at the playground a couple of days before. It was almost mean that her presents consisted of a new pair of sneakers, a scooter, and a helmet for when she’s riding her scooter.


My youngest daughter is no longer a baby. She’s no longer a terrible two. She can now do what she likes, express herself, and make jokes. When this was happening for her sister it was exciting — she was the first one — but now with Rivka it’s bittersweet because she may be the last one.

Filed under: Family, Rivka

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3704 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

2 comments… add one

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  • Rob September 18, 2018, 8:49 pm

    A birthday!
    A big day in a Mom’s life… please wish Hannah and Rivka a happy birthday for me!
    Congratulations to you too Pop!!

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    • Wade Shepard September 20, 2018, 1:52 am

      Thank you! Haha, you got to read the version that wasn’t supposed to go live. My wife read in her email this morning and was sort of shocked … even though she’s kind of used to this. I had to republish the slightly more sanitized public version.

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