The Washington Post

(Nathaniel Grann/TWP)

Joseph F. Naimoli

59, Potomac, health scientist

Twenty-four years ago, this 24-ounce container was for a time an integral part of daily life.

The story of Stephen’s first bathtub began in Togo, West Africa, in 1986. My wife, Gail, reacting to a harrowing tale from a fellow Peace Corps volunteer who had just transferred from another country, said, “I’m never going there!” There was the Central African Republic: a tragic story in today’s news; a troubled but more hopeful place in the late 1980s. Never say never! Twelve months later, we found ourselves in Bangui, CAR’s capital, working for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with the Ministry of Health.

During our third year there, a pregnant Gail went into labor at 27 weeks’ gestation. The pregnancy may have been short, but the labor seemed to last forever: 32 hours at home and in a spartan Lebanese clinic; one hour on the airport tarmac; eight hours in the medical evacuation plane sent from Switzerland; and five hours in the 97th Army General Hospital in Frankfurt.

In November 1989, just days after the Wall began to come down in Berlin, Stephen was delivered by emergency C-section, tipping the scales at 2.2 pounds. During his three months with the best neonatal intensive care nurses in the world, he received many a bath in this basin.

It reminds our family of how fortunate we are.

Stephen still can’t believe he ever fit into this tub.

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