The 21 Club

Friday afternoon, June 30, 1989 — took my sweet boy for a haircut today. He looks adorable. Bloody blazing hot Vermont summer day. Sat out at the picnic table on the patio with him and talked about the baby. “Please God, I want a baby sister” (talk about pressure! His dad wanted a son when he was born, didn’t think I’d feel that gender pressure again. I was so thrilled with my little boy that I couldn’t picture myself with a little girl, and would have been just as happy with another boy).
“Why don’t you name her Mary Anthony, Mommy? Don’t you think that’s a pretty name?”
(Well, yes, I just haven’t decided on a name yet so we’ll see).

About 0100 Saturday, July 1, 1989 — I wake up, feeling some twinges. Hmmm, maybe it’s labor starting even though I’m not due until Bastille Day. Oh well, no sense losing sleep over it so go back to sleep.

1000 Saturday, July 1, 1989 — up and at ’em…still feeling those twinges, but I’m not going to get worked up for nothing, so we all go strawberry picking with Aunt Jacqueline and Evelyn Gramma. I have to work in SICU (Surgical Intensive Care) at 1500. I mention casually to everyone that if I am in labor it’s a good place to be.

1730 July 1, SICU — quiet eve and on supper break figure I’ll go up to L & D (labor and delivery) to see if much is going on. I luck out and Linda, my nurse midwife is on duty this eve. She checks me out (about 4 cm dilated) and she says I’ll probably have a baby in the next day. Okay.

1930 July 1, SICU/L & D — Finished ordering patient labs for the next day, so all my work is pretty much done. Quiet evening on the unit so we’ll probably sit around sharing our crazy birth stories and so on. I go to the bathroom and as I’m leaving the bathroom, there is a gush of pink water, flooding down my leg and soaking my ankle socks. I exit the bathroom, saying to Lorraine, our nurse’s aide, and Rita, the housekeeper, “I’m really shaky, I think my water broke,” at which point, Lorraine’s swooped a wheelchair under my butt and Rita mops up the floor behind us as Lorraine wheels me right up to L & D. I luck out again (and will yet again when I get the last room on maternity later) and get the last birthing room (most like home), the nurse manager for my nurse (who immediately offers me a unit secretary job there if I’m ever interested), and Linda returns, with love and support. She checks my progress to discover 9 cm now! We’ve called Jason and Jacqueline, and all of a sudden I’m remembering “Oh Yeah! THIS is how much childbirth hurts!” (Yet this time I’m able to breathe through the pain more easily. I’m more centered and know what to expect).

It’s lucky Jacqueline happened up for a visit because she’s also Anthony’s support person (siblings are allowed into the birthing center to share in the family birth experience, they just need to have their own support person). Jac. and Anthony show up soon after we call. Linda supports me until my support person (Jason) finally shows up, smelling of alcohol and looking a bit frazzled and sweaty. I look over my shoulder at Jac. and A. at one point — my 5 year old boy is cool as a cuke, while my 26 year old sister looks like all the color has gone out of her (I feel the humor even if I don’t feel like laughing at the minute).

2048 July 1, L & D — It’s a little gal! her dad announces. Big bro gets the little sis he prayed for, but the name I’d picked out — Rose Elizabeth, now all of a sudden I’m not so sure. She’s so tiny at 6 pounds 9 ounces, tinier than her brother was, but just as beautiful and dark, though wouldn’t you figure? Her bro was born with a mop of dark hair he never lost (old ladies used to tell me I should cut it! to which I’d reply, “I love his hair, chances are when I have a girl, she won’t have much,” and sure enough! She had my father’s receding hairline).

Jason makes phone calls to family, Anthony chats with everyone too. He’s been very calm and cool throughout the whole birth experience, saying there was a little blood but not much.

1300 July 2, Home — The neighbors greet us — 80something Mrs. Ross, Dick, our landlord; Missy and Todd, his kids; Mrs. Shepherd, his mother-in-law; Leitha and the rest of the Breens next door, Gramma Evelyn, Aunt Kathleen, Sophie, Jacqueline and Jason’s friend Nat Witham, with the video camera (we didn’t ever have one, so it was photos for us). Anthony wanting a name very much, me still undecided. Alanna, Tina, Kira, Kara, Moon Unit, it’s overwhelming naming a child so soon! My friend Lisa, didn’t name her son for about a year, in the American Indian tradition of her family.

Late July, Big Apple Circus Week — I’m in tears! I’d bought an inexpensive 35mm camera (cooler than my Kodak Instamatic I thought) and we used that to shoot the birth photos. The take-up reel on the film didn’t engage, so the only photos that came out from the birth were the few that my sweet boy took with his little 110. I was inconsolable as I remembered how sweet he looked wearing Mickey Mouse scrubs, sitting in the rocking chair with my sister while his sister was being born.

1913, July 1, 2010 — My girl’s name is Molly Rose and she’s “legal” now. Her brother is still as protective as ever, wishing her Happy Birthday and telling her not to get alcohol poisoning. How deep and wide can a mother’s love for her children get? It’s beyond measure, beyond words, beyond this world. And I hope their love for each other grows as deep and wide, too.