For Levi

Gunce Arkan
5 min readSep 19


Written 9/19/2012, with endless love

Wednesday was a very long day. It started at 1:30am. I had just fallen to sleep an hour and a half before when the phone rang.

“It’s time.” My mother said as soon as I picked up. You could hear the excitement in her voice.

“Time for what?” I ask. I am a little out of it.

“Canem. We have to go to the hospital.”

“Okay.” I say. I close my eyes and snuggle in.

“Okay,” says my mom. “Let’s go.”

“Go where?”

She starts getting annoyed.

“Gunce. Get up! Your sister is in labor. We are going to the hospital.”

That finally gets across my daze and confusion. I jump out of bed.

I take a quick shower and get dressed. I pack Season 1 of Veronica Mars on DVD. Pack a DVD player. An iPad. An iPhone and a bottle of water. Feeling that satisfies all my entertainment and survival needs, I head out.

Within an hour we are at my favorite hospital. Canem and her husband, Mike, have just checked in. But it takes the better part of an hour before we are allowed to join them in the delivery room. It is a nice room with a bed at the center and four unusually uncomfortable chairs. Canem is lying on the bed already looking a bit exhausted.

We greet each other and get busy waiting. As anyone who has ever gone through it will tell you, labor is an arduous process. But my sister is a trooper. She is all smiles and friendly hand squeezes. If you could ignore the incessant beeping of the heart monitor, it’s like she is hosting us for a late night book club. Reeeeeaaaally late night.

My sister and I are vastly different people. We differ in many many ways, but the gist of our differences boils down to this: She is a daring adventurer of the unknown and I, well, I am a wimp. So even in this, labor and delivery, our differences are quickly apparent.

For example, I asked for an epidural as soon as I walked into the hospital. (In fact, I might have asked for one at my 8th month check-up). Meanwhile Canem bore nine solid hours of labor before she caved. And even then I think she might have lasted longer if I were not constantly badgering her to get it done now. Now. Now. Now. “Canem — — what if the anesthesiologist gets stuck somewhere? What if he dies before he can get to you? What if the hospital runs out of the medicine?”

Fine. Enough already. She gets the epidural. I feel a lot better. We get back to the waiting game.

Canem & I in Baghdad, Iraq

But my sister is blessed with a patience that I will never know, and so neither she nor her child are ready to commit to any serious forward momentum. As she lies in that hospital bed, her body working hard to bring forth a new life, I keep flashing back to images of her as a little girl. Always beautiful. Completely independent. Forever fierce.

Perhaps because our family moved so much growing up, my sister and I have always been extremely close. It’s nice to have a built-in friend no matter how many times you change cities, countries, or schools. So while she was always my baby, my little sis, she was also much more than that. She was my confidant and my protector. (She always took the outside edge of the bed just in case the monsters came in the middle of the night.) She was an instigator and a cheerleader. A hand-holder, a puke cleaner-upper, an avid listener. Hell, she is the reason that I went through the torture of childbirth a second time. Because I wanted to make sure that Ayla had a chance at having what I have always had: someone who will hold my hand no matter what.

Where were we? Oh yes. Hour twenty of Canem’s labor. Well, we were all getting a bit tired at this point. And even my tireless sister is waning a tiny amount. The doctor comes into do an exam and lets us know that this kid: He ain’t coming out on his own. My sister is resigned. I tell her that c-sections are not that bad. I mean, yes, they are terrible, horrible, painful, petrifying and incredibly awful, but really other than that, they are okay.

You just have to keep saying to yourself: All that matters is healthy mommy & healthy baby. Healthy mommy & healthy baby. Healthy mommy & healthy baby.

And I continue to chant this under my breath until a full excruciatingly long hour later, when Michael finally ushers us back inside to see his family: his exhausted wife and his beautiful boy.

Born 9 lbs 14.2 oz — Hello, William Levent Cawthon.

Hello, my darling nephew.

Welcome to the world. We are so happy to have you join our family.

I have a few quick things to tell you:

First and foremost, you are so loved. So very loved.

And second, you are incredibly blessed. You are blessed because in addition to your patently good looks and healthy appetite, you also have amazing grandparents, who croon at the sight of you. You have cousins who cannot wait to play with you. You have an aunt and uncle who promise to spoil you silly. You have a father who looks at you with nothing but sheer wonder and love. A father who will be the very best father, a father can possibly be.

768th kiss of Levent’s life

And last but certainly not least, you have a mother, who is as generous and courageous as she is kind and beautiful. And who will always play with you, no matter how silly the games. Who will trust you and support you in all your crazy endeavors. Who will be the first to cheer you on and the last to let you down. Who will protect you from all those monsters under your bed. Who will stay up with you, comfort you while you puke, cry with you, laugh with you, dance with you, snuggle with you and do everything in her power to make sure that you feel loved. Utterly, completely loved.

Trust me. This much I know to be true. Because your incandescent mother is also my Canem.



Gunce Arkan

Unwilling infertility expert. Wife. Mother. Sister. Daughter.