Yesterday we celebrated the birth of my first child. She came into this world 32 years ago at 7:59pm on Monday October 13th. I have no clue how this is possible since I am only 39… and holding!
While having the blood test taken for my marriage license back in 1979 the doctor cautioned it might be difficult to conceive a child. Due to my complications with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) and a low sperm count on my husband’s end things were not going to be easy. “Come talk to me when you are ready,” he instructed. “There are many ways to work this out”.
We were married in November 1979… and I was pregnant by January!! So much for having trouble!
I had been traveling for work and was gone for a week. When I returned home, my husband left for a two-week trip, also for work. By the time he returned home I was as sick as a dog. Thinking I had the flu I stayed wrapped up in a blanket for the entire two weeks he was away, tucked on the couch… not far from the bathroom.
We were supposed to go to dinner with his side of the family, however I was too ill and just couldn’t make myself get up and get moving. The thought of food, any food, made me nauseous. He went without me, and I stayed curled on the couch. When he returned home he had the most ridiculous look on his face. He looked me square in the eyes and announced, “My brother thinks you are pregnant!”
“What?” He could not have surprised me more. No way did the thought I could possibly be pregnant ever enter my head. Not even once in the entire 3 weeks of being sick. The doctor said it would be difficult. No, I had the flu. The very next day I made an appointment with the doctor… just to be sure.
During the exam, the doctor looked up from between my legs with a smile on his face and said, “I thought you were going to come to talk me first”. He continued, “I’m not a betting man, but I would bet you were pregnant”. And so it began!
Once I was able to eat and keep the contents of my stomach where they belonged, it was smooth sailing from there on. Occasionally a particular odor would make me queasy… but that was all. Time moved quickly forward… to the due date.
The Eagles were playing the Giants at Giant’s Stadium that sunny Sunday in October. The Phillies were playing for the pennant that evening. What a great sports day in our household. Yes… we bleed green for the Eagles and are Fanatics of the Phillies. My husband had tickets for the Eagles game. As he was getting dressed to leave, I felt the first twinge of a contraction. Oh my! Now what?? How long do I have? Should I mention this to my husband? Should he go to the game? What if he went to the game and I had to go to the hospital without him? YIKES!
He reluctantly decided to stay home. His reasoning being he would most likely have an accident on the way to the hospital from nerves if I called him to leave early. We weren’t ready to call the family yet and let them know I was in labor. Having never been through this before we had absolutely no clue what to expect. We decided to keep ‘mum’. Of course my brother (a Giant’s fan) called to make a friendly wager on the game. My husband, wanting to appear aloof, invited my brother to come watch the game at our house… assuming he would decline. Nope… it didn’t go that way. My brother was there in an hour, ready to root for his favorite team. I was timing the contractions as the guys were timing the plays.
The Eagles won… 31-16! Next up, the Phillies game. My brother decided to stay and watch that also. We still didn’t let him in on what was going on. It was getting late and I was tired so I went to our room to rest. The contractions were getting closer and stronger, but not so bad I felt we had to go. It had been twelve hours since I felt the first one.
The Phillies won the Pennant! I finally called the doctor! He commented he appreciated that I waited until the game was over to call him, and that he would meet us in the hospital shortly. It was 1:00am Monday, October 13, 1980.
My brother was spending the night. We grabbed our pre-packed overnight bags and called him to the kitchen. We instructed him on how to use the coffee maker and told him we were off to have a baby. To say he was dumbfounded was an understatement. He had absolutely no clue I was in labor all day!
During the last trimester my husband and I signed up for natural childbirth classes. They were held at the hospital every Monday evening at 8PM. I have always felt that giving birth was a natural act and should be dealt with accordingly. I wasn’t ready to go totally ‘granola’ on the issue as I do believe being in a hospital setting if a problem occurs is the best place to be. However, I really don’t believe in medication unless absolutely necessary. If there is an emergency and you have to knock me out… OK, go for it. If the medication is just to make the pain go away, well then I will just wait first to see how bad the pain is before I will let it into my system. I can usually breathe my way through pain.
All day I am in the labor room, waiting for something to happen. The contractions are still coming, slow and steady… more of a bother than a pain. There is a belt strapped around my big, bloated middle measuring the intensity of the contractions. I am tired and cranky, but still smiling. This hospital had a ‘daddy room’ where Stan could take a breather, watch TV, get refreshments, and take a nap. At 7:00pm he was exhausted and went for a nap. HE was exhausted???? Don’t even get me started!! I had been in labor for 36 hours by now.
At 7:40PM it’s time to PUSH! Whoa! It happened all of a sudden! In an instant the room became a flurry of activity. The doctor was barking orders, the nurses were flipping pieces of the bed into different positions making it fit through the hallways. I am off to the delivery room… where the magic happens! “Wake my husband!”, I shout. This is exciting!!
Once in the delivery room I have to transfer from the bed I was in, to the table in the middle of the room. No one is there to help me so the doctor asks if I can do it myself. Sure… no problem. As I exert energy to get up, a major contraction hits… and my child comes squirting out! The doctor, an older backwoods kind of guy who should have retired years ago but just LOVES bringing red, wrinkled, wiggly babies into this world, looks over at me as he is preparing a numbing shot for my episiotomy. He drops the needle, takes two giant steps and snatches my daughter before she hits the floor like a Super Bowl winning receiver… and tucks her in the crook of his elbow. Welcome to the world my precious daughter!
My husband missed the entire birth. The nurse woke him up, threw some scrubs at him, and instructed to dress in them and wait by the delivery room door until called in. He did as he was told. While standing at the door he heard a baby cry. A woman sweeping the floor asked, “Is that your baby?” He replied he wasn’t sure. “Well there’s only one woman up here giving birth right now… so you had better get in there!” she said.
She was born one minute before our last natural childbirth class was to start. I guess we passed the course ☺ My husband ran down to the first floor class room to share the good news.
Yesterday as I cooked her breakfast, French Toast… I was reminded that she was my ‘first pancake’. You know how when you are making pancakes the first one is your ‘test’? The pan needs to be the right temperature, the butter melted ‘just so’. The first one comes out OK, but not perfect. Still good tasting, still good looking… but you are not going to win any awards. This first child of mine had the roughest time and paved the way for the next two.
As parenting goes, I was laid back most of the time… but too strict in other areas. When this child came home from college the first time, she decided at 11:00PM she was going out to a friend’s. “What? No way”, I remarked. “You are NOT leaving this house at this late hour to go to a guy’s house”. When the second child came home the first time from college, she bounded down the stairs at 11:00PM and I said, “Have a good time”. See? First pancake.
Thirty-two years have passed. We have gone through many trials and tribulations. First steps, first tooth, kindergarten, boys, driving, accidents, panic attacks, college and so much more. I wouldn’t change a thing! I love my first pancake. She is perfect in every way.
Happy Birthday dear daughter!