In the course of my lifetime I’ve not only had unique experiences of my own when giving birth, but also have had the wonderful opportunity to witness some of the unique experiences of others.
In my own child-bearing years my first was born in the delivery room while the doctor was still scrubbing up (which they still did in those days), the second arrived halfway between the labor room and the delivery room and the third was born in the labor room, delivered by her father who is affectionately referred to as “The Ex” in these blogs. No one ever seemed to believe me when I told them it was time. I hesitate to think where the fourth would have arrived had I been able to have one more.
So, this past weekend, my very close friend, Joan and her daughter, Sarah (whom I have known since her birth) and Sarah’s family (wonderful husband Rick and adorable three-year- old, Bobby) were invited for dinner at the Casa Mastracchio. Joan was here visiting from the east in anticipation of Sarah being due any day with baby #2. All week it was kind of touch-and-go as to whether they would actually make it for the meal. I planned on cooking something that could be easily packed and taken to her house if she headed off to the hospital, so a couple of hours before they came I sent her a text with “Am I packing the cooler or setting the table?” to which she responded “Set the table. Then I will definitely go into labor.”
And she did.
But it was at my house, after sitting down to dinner.
You could tell that she was uncomfortable when she arrived (although she never so much as grimaced) and just as the food was served, she got up from the table, took her cell phone and went downstairs (where it was quieter) to call her doctor. When she came back up we all said, almost in unison “SO?” and she shrugged and said “He said to come in to the hospital.”
Now between Joan and I we not only have seven children, but 14 grandchildren…(this would be grandchild #7 for her, on 7/7, bringing our combined total to 15!). The way we reacted, you would think, as the maid says in Gone With the Wind, “(We) don’t know nuthin’ about birthin’ babies, Miss Scarlett!”
She and I looked at each other with open mouths and I said “Should we do something?” to which Joan responded “I don’t know? Boil water?”
Instead I topped off both our wine glasses (to settle our nerves, since neither of us were driving anywhere) and while we were downing the last of the Chardonnay, Sarah gathered her little guy and her husband and with her Mom following them, they headed out to the car, leaving MOTNSO (“More Often Than Not Significant Other”) and I standing in the doorway trying not to look worried.
Her baby boy arrived a little over two hours later much to the delight of all of us! 8 pounds, 5 ounces, 20 inches long and as beautiful as can be! He is the “graphic” this week at the top of the blog.
Another favorite ”birth day” story of mine is the birth of my youngest daughter’s first baby.
Carly was due towards the end of January and Christmas Eve we were all together and her sister Jessica and I were teasing her, saying “You’ll have your baby in February! Let’s make a date for lunch near the end of January. Don’t even pack your bag until January 20th!”
Early Christmas morning I had just awakened and was trying to decide which Mass to go to before heading down to Jessica’s house to spend Christmas Day when the phone rang. It was my son-in-law, Michael, husband of my youngest, and he was very excited. “Mom, call Jess and get to the hospital. The baby’s coming.” I thought he was kidding and started to say that when he repeated the first sentence and then added ”Hurry!”
I never dressed that fast in my life. No time for a fashion crisis…I grabbed whatever I had on the day before and threw it on, jumped in the car and did 85 mph to the hospital which was about 60 miles away. There was hardly anyone on the road at that early hour of Christmas morning so I didn’t threaten anyone else’s safety other than my own. I tried calling him back a couple of times and just as I was getting off the highway at the exit I finally reached Michael who simply said “Baby’s here.”
They hadn’t opted to find out the sex before and now I was dying. I whipped into the parking lot, jumped out of the car and literally ran to the door. I was met outside the delivery room by the new Dad who had a big smile and said “It’s … a … ” I was really crazed…really? C’mon! “…girl…” as he opened the door for me to go in to see Carly.
You know that scene in the more contemporary Father of the Bride with Steve Martin and Diane Keaton where his daughter tells him she’s going to get married? he looks at her as she is saying she’s met someone and is engaged and all he sees is a five-year-old in pigtails instead of a grown woman? When I got into the room, there was my “baby” looking just like that other five-year-old, all wide-eyed (but beautiful!) and holding a “Cabbage Patch doll” which was really my new granddaughter but she was saying “Mommy, it’s Christmas and I had a baby!”
To this day I never see someone in the movies or on TV “giving birth” (real or pretend) that I don’t get all teary-eyed. I was lucky enough to be able to do that three times and as I always tell each of them on their birthdays “Today was one of the three best days of my life!” and they were.
The new baby’s name is Jack…and I am proud that I will, in only a small way, be part of his “birth day story.” I don’t think there is any greater gift than that of a new life.