A Blink After Birth

When I was a little, my favorite story my mom would tell me, was about the day I was born.

Angelia Elizabeth – born August 23, 1971 – 420pm

As often as I could, I would beg her to tell it to me, again and again. Maybe, it was for the closeness we shared. Maybe, it was because my mom told it with such heart, and soul. Maybe, it was because I got to snuggle with her under the covers in her big brass bed. She would wrap me up and stroke my hair as she began to quietly speak. Transfixed, I would listen as she recounted the day with perfect clarity.

My mom, your Grandma Dorothy, died while I was pregnant with you. I was only 29 years old. We were very close and I loved her so much. It was devastating to me. But I had your two brothers, and sister to take care of. I could not grieve forever. As much as I would miss her, I had to do the best I could for my family. You were five months in my tummy when I said good-bye for the last time.

The months went by as slow and hard as I thought they would be. The emptiness and loss were a hole I could not fill. The boys were a handful, but thankfully your sister, age eight, was a BIG help. She wished and wished for a baby sister and not a brother. I told her how sorry I was but I didn’t think I could have any more girls. I wanted a girl more than anything but just couldn’t get my hopes up. It seemed the last possible thing in the world. But in my dreams, I couldn’t help but picture a big brown-eyed baby girl.

Two weeks from your due date the doctor informed me that he would go ahead and induce labor. He felt it was time. I had not gained much weight. I was too thin and too unhealthy. In my harrowing days, I had not taken very good care of myself. It was losing my mom. It was raising three children. It was so many things.

I couldn’t believe after laboring all day the moment of your arrival came, and the doctor announced, “It’s a girl!” I told him, “It can’t be! I can’t have any more girls.” The doctor just laughed. “Of course you can have more girls and you did. Just look at her.”

And there you were….a girl. What I wanted for so long. You were so pretty. You had BIG brown eyes that peered up at me like an Owl. And you were tiny too, only 5lbs 12oz, the smallest baby I ever had. Your thin blond downy fuzz on your head was so soft, and how I loved to count your precious little fingers and toes. Oh, I was amazed and in love. I only wished my mom could be there to meet you.

Back in those days, the babies would lay in the nursery while the mom recovered in her room from the medicines and birth. I was laying there in my hospital bed thinking of you, when I sensed movement at the door. And there she stood. My mom. She was standing there looking at me with such love and adoration shining from her face. She looked me right in my eyes and said, “Oh Sharon, you did it again. She is beautiful and just like you dreamed she would be with big brown-eyes. I’m so happy you got your girl.”

I was startled. My heart jolted at the sight of her. I did what any normal person would do, I closed my eyes, and I shook my head. When I opened them, she was gone.

Oh how I wished I had not closed my eyes. I wish I would have kept them open and talked to her. I wish…I wish…I wish….but I didn’t and just like that, she wasn’t there. But she WAS there. Really there. It wasn’t a dream. It was a moment, I will never forget, for the rest of my life.

Her story is both heart-wrenching and joyful. I am usually crying with her, and for her, at the end. In my heart of hearts, I know my Grandma met me. She gazed at me through the glass. She lovingly reached for my downy head and stared into my big eyes. Oh Grandma, I heard so much about you. What you must have done to visit your daughter in a gesture of comfort, a gesture of reassurance, and a gesture of compassion that you were still there in her deepest period of loss. How much you loved us all. I know one day we will meet in heaven, all of us, and no blink will take that moment.

In loving memory of my mom’s mom, Grandma Dorotha Marie.
Grandma holding my sister, 1963

May 6, 1994

Dear Syd,

I don’t really have a great story about the day you were born. I do know the beginning of my journey was so hard and emotional. I found out I was pregnant, but I didn’t know if you’d really be a pregnancy. I thought I would lose you like I did the pregnancy before you. I was so torn about it, convinced I couldn’t possibly carry you to term. Strangely enough, I kept a weekly pregnancy journal anyway. Maybe one day you will read it and understand how extremely grateful I was that I did carry you to term and recorded every moment.

That is, up until you wouldn’t come out. Yeah. My first due date April 21st (my brother’s birthday) came and went. Then, my second (original) due date came, April 28th, then went. In the last four weeks, doc said it could be ANY day. Yet any day was another day, and another, and ANOTHER.

I was so huge, I had to turn over inch by inch in bed. I was so heavy I waddled when I walked. I grew out of my maternity clothes for the third time. The month of May came and it was HOT. Yeah, like today; 91. 🙂 I had to break down and buy maternity shorts. I dragged your dad out shopping and walking. When we weren’t doing that, I walked on the treadmill for an HOUR. I almost drank mineral oil. I was THAT desperate.

Then I got scared, because if you are in the oven too long, my placenta could stop nourishing you. You could die. It was almost like going back to the beginning. I was in turmoil. Afraid you wouldn’t get here. Afraid of the tragedy that shadowed our family when your 7 day old cousin Will died only 10 months before. The wounds still fresh and tender. Now I was walking on the treadmill with tears streaming down my face as I told you how much I loved you and just wanted you safe in my arms.

The smart Doctor Peters decided to induce labor for the emotional first time mom. Good call.  He scheduled it for early morning on Friday that week. The day before, I sat on the driveway visiting with our neighbors in my new shorts. When I got up that morning, I had a nice cherry RED sunburn on my front side – cheeks, forearms, and upper thighs – you know the thighs in stirrups while you are pushing with a 100 people in the room. Lovely, at least my cheeks were already red.

It took a loooong time for labor to start. For one, gosh you were stubborn. Two, I was having BACK labor which the monitor was not picking up. Third, your dad was SLEEPING on the couch in our birthing suite. I didn’t want to disturb him, so I just gripped the bed rails through the pain shooting daggers at him while the monitor showed nothing. Thank God a nurse came in and noticed I wasn’t reading my book anymore and decided to put an internal monitor in. BAM. Big spikes on the monitor now. Hey! I was in labor! What do you know.

The rest of the day went pretty fast until it was time to push. Remember how stubborn you were? Yeah, you didn’t want to come out then either. I don’t get it, you’re not even shy. I pushed and pushed and pushed. Finally they used a suction cup on your head. Nope. Forceps (ow). No. The doctor is looking at the clock, it’s 6:30pm and he has Ranger’s Baseball tickets. Brand new ballpark that year. Remember that? It was game time. Batttttter up!

7:03pm you made your entrance. All 7lbs, 1oz of you 19 3/4 inch long. You know you really did look kinda mad. Waaah, Waah. Your eyes were kinda squinted like WTH? I had pushed so hard on the last one, I popped my IV right out of my arm. I didn’t even notice as I reached out for you with my blood drenched arm like a war hero and oh my goodness! You looked just like me….I was shocked.

Your dad and I stared speechless. Wah, you cried, softer now, peering around holding your wrinkly pickled hands.

You had gorgeous pink, pink skin, big eyes, a cute pug nose and a stunning cherry red mouth. You calmed right down at the sound of your dad’s voice. You just stopped and listened. I knew you were daddy’s girl right then and there. You were absolutely perfect (well except for the suction cup LUMP on your head). I couldn’t have been happier or more moved by the entire experience.

Sydney Elizabeth had arrived……………………Finally! And just in time for Mother’s Day Sunday. You were the best Mother’s Day Gift – ever (still are).

Have a wonderful “SWEET” 16. The world is a more beautiful place because you are in it.

We love you sooooo much (smuches, and smuches!).

Mom and ALL the family, old and new.

Ange, Sonny, and 6 wk old Syd.