It's getting harder. When Big was little, there was plenty of time all day long to sit, cuddle & recap her birthday story. Yesterday, it was harder. We woke up 15 minutes early to serenade her and pile two priority presents on her breakfast plate. We served her favorite breakfast and then we were off to school on time. At lunch, Mimi & I surprised her with her hot lunch from Wendy's -- BLT snack wrap and a junior vanilla frosty. She was surprised. It was priceless. Mimi ate the lunch that she packed.
After school, she delivered birthday treats of homemade carmel corn & smarties to her favorite teachers and trekked home munching on leftovers. She pushed through homework and we opened the remaining presents. It's MOTH's tradition to bring the girls roses on their birthdays. One rose when they were one. Three on their third . . .yadda, yadda, yadda. Yesterday, he showed up with a dozen, shrugged his shoulders and said, "it's cheaper to get a dozen now." Tee hee.
We made her favorite dinner & ate (but without Middle, who was at gymnastics last night during the dinner hour.) We'll drag her birthday out a day longer, since we didn't want to do birthday cake without Middle last night. Well, and it was just too darn late by the time Big got home from practice last night. When she came in sweaty & tired, Little and Mimi were already tucked in . . . .
Late last night, I still crawled into bed with her. I told her, for the tenth year, the story of the day she was born. Last night, I vowed to write it all down in a form that matches the verbal record. Sort of.
It was a Monday. Why I remember it was a Monday, I'm not really sure. I think becasue I was grumbling about my boss holding a mandatory meeting at 8 am. I had not worked the night before, so it was a huge pain in the butt to be at work on Monday morning at 8 am, when I had not been there the whole night prior. Night shift workers are like that. At any rate, I woke up that Monday morning really cranky and sore. I remember thinking that everything hurt. Pregnancy with Big was pretty easy. I had little weight gain, only about 18 pounds. But I started to unravel at about 33 weeks. My back was killing me (now I understand why). My hips were killing me. It felt like I was being shoved apart from the outside in. I was right at 37 weeks, and I remember thinking that I had a long, long, uphill hike coming. My own mother went past her due date with me, and she constantly told me that I would, too. Looking at three more weeks made my cheeks sag. Thinking about going 5 more weeks made me want to crawl into a hole.
I made it to the meeting at 8 am. Two of my very best friends, fellow nursing school grads & nurses at the birth center also were there. After the meeting, we decided on breakfast. We went to The Olive Branch. It's the only time I had ever been there. It was awful. That's another thing. My taste buds had gone on vacation . . . nothing tasted right, nothing felt right . . . I was ten degrees off in all aspects. And, my hips and back were friggin' killing me. My nursing school buddies & colleagues surprised me after breakfast with a pre-baby, you can't see your feet anyway, pedicure. It was heavenly. We joked about rubbing the labor spot or the vibrating massage chair jostling my water into breaking. Just joking about the possibility made my spirits lighter. And my girlfriends were a fabulous distraction.
After pedicures, breakfast and morning meeting, I was craving a walk (I remember really liking to walk through the gutters and kick the crunchy fall leaves) and a nap. Have I mentioned my back was killing me? I walked but couldn't get comfortable enough to take a nap.
Hours passed. I'm actually not sure what I did. I remember that evening (or late afternoon, for sure), I was standing in Borders at the mall when a pain went ripping through me that just about brought me to my knees. I think sometimes God intercepts phone calls, becasue as I was dragging myself upright and my husband was looking at me as if I was being overly dramatic, my cell phone rang. It was my mother. Describing what happened, she said, "oh, honey . . . that's exactly how you came . . . just one pain while I was standing in the kitchen . . . we barely got to the hospital before you were there . . . the doctor only had one arm in his jacket . . . you better go in . . . I'm getting in the car . . . I'm coming up . . I can make it there in under three hours . .. ". I left her rambling into the phone as another pain sliced through me. When Big was born, my mom didn't live here, so I pictured her driving like a bat out of hell coming over the pass in the early evening. I sat on the bench by the fountain for a while. MOTH ran into a man that he works with. They joked that today would be a great day for a baby . . it was his birthday, too. MOTH's parents called. I was still feeling not-normal. Surreal is a good word. Like this couldn't be happening. I'd worked in women's health care long enough to see busloads of women sent home for false labor. First time moms ALWAYS wish to deliver early. They always think, "this is it", until the midwife pats them on the fanny and shows them the door, while the chuckle and mumble, "primips . . . "
We went home. We watched TV with dogs on our laps. Like usual. Achiness stayed around. Pains came and went. My back was killing me.
MOTH was playing a video game. I remember he used to sit cross-legged in front of this giant TV-box-like contraption that sat on the floor. It had red speakers on the sides. Remember those?
I said, "my water broke . . . we have to go to the center."
He said, "Now? She's not due until next month . . . I thought you said it was false labor." She was due on October 20th - MOTH's birthday . . . .
I said, "She's NOT due until next month. I DID think it was false labor. I've just changed my mind."
He made me wait while he put a trash bag on the seat of his car. It was a white Jeep Grand Cherokee. We went to the birth center. Some parts are fuzzy. Clearly, clounded with pain. I remember being hellbent to have a natural delivery. Idealistic, first timer, right? I remember walking and walking, and walking. I was walking in the hall, dying with contractions and hanging on MOTH when my mom showed up. I remember her saying, "what are you doing? I thought you were supposed to be in bed." My labor nurse gave her the "times have changed" talk. MOTH's parents called. Grandpa's birthday is the 28th of September. He promised me new skis, boots, bindings and poles if I delivered on his birthday & gave him a granddaugher AND a birthday buddy.
Some time later, the point of no return came and I asked for an epidural. "Nope, too late," said my nurse, "it's time to push."
Parts are blurry. I remember pushing. Sort of. I remember the doctor coming in. He was a class I, grade A, 100% bonafide asswipe. And then, at 11:24 pm, there was a baby . . . she looked wrinkly and pink -- and sort of blue . . with cheesy white stuff. And boy, could she hollar. I mised the new skis, boot, bindings and poles by 36 minutes.
Fast forward . . . . I tell the story, or some version of it EVERY year on birthdays. It's just what I do. Sometimes I add on some of the first weeks, months, years or little memories from along the way. This year, there is a very big, very heartfelt, very gaze-lifted to heaven, thank you . . . to Big . . . for not staying the rotten, colicky, horrible, finicky, intolerant infant that she was. Thanks be to God, she has turned into a wonderful, lovely, fabulous child-slash-pre-teen.
Thanks be to God for eleven years . . .