I have decided to repost the following for my daughter Carrie Ann’s birthday today. I hope you all enjoy:
The most beautiful gift that I have ever received was given to me several decades ago for Mothers’ Day. To be honest, I really wasn’t expecting anything beyond that which I had already been given. There was the crayon- scribbled picture from my two-year old son, Steven, taped to the water-glass full of stubby-stemmed dandelions partially submerged in the cloudy water, displayed proudly on the windowsill over the kitchen sink. There was also the box of chocolates from my husband Rolly by the bedside, where it had already been opened and indulged in by all three of us before 8:00 AM. (This was well before my anti chocolate “Rah! Rah! Carob!” child-rearing attempts.)
We had decided that we were not going to be excessive in our gift giving to one another because of the tightness of our budget. The fact is, we were in “subsidized housing.” (parent subsidized.) We were living in a little farm-house on a second farm which my parents had recently purchased. It adjoined the home farm and gave them some additional crop-growing acreage.
Later in the morning, I hopefully planted a colourful paper packet of peas and another of string beans in the soft sandy soil out behind the tall red-painted shed. Moving slowly along on my hands and knees I carefully placed each seed into my straight shallow trenches. Meanwhile, Steven gradually moved from in front of me…. to beside me… to behind me, with his small collection of dinky toys. Glancing backwards, I realized that the straight rows were now intersected by other curving ridges and roads. Many of the bean seeds were now loaded on to a tiny truck and, here and there, strewn into newly created ditches! “Growing things sometimes requires a lot of creativity.” I thought, as I sighed loudly. A cascade of pear blossoms fluttered down from the tall tree nearby as if in response.
In mid afternoon we put on our Sunday best. I only had one dress that actually fit me at the time, but it was a pretty one that my Mom had bought for me several months before and I felt great in it. We headed around the corner to Mom and Dad’s where all my siblings pampered me and waited on me hand and foot. Apart from our own mother, who had given birth to all eight of us, I was the only other Mom present. By five o’clock we were all sitting down to a full course turkey dinner with all the trimmings. It was topped off by my sister Marsha’s specialty–Red Devil’s Food Cake with Boiled Meringue Icing. We all crowned our portions with generous scoops of vanilla or chocolate ice-cream.
At six o’clock, as I was enjoying that last bite of cake, I felt something quite peculiar. Nothing painful, just a ping, a wee bit like a garter had just broken and snapped loose…except it was in entirely the wrong place for that! I was a bit shocked and decided that this would be a good time to bolt from the kitchen table and run up the stairs to check out the situation. As it turned out, that was exactly the right response. By the time I reached the bathroom door I was within arm’s reach of the bath towels needed to mop up the puddle. My water had broken! Because I had not experienced that prior warning “ping” when Steven was born, and I was still a few weeks from my due date, I had not at first realized what was happening. Over the din of dinner hour I was finally able to get someone’s attention with my “Hey! … Hey! … Hey! … Someone! … Please send Rolly up here! … OK? ”
Within two minutes I was en route to hospital and making jokes about how this wasn’t really Mothers’ Day anymore, but Labour Day. I did insist, though, on a quick stop at home first because I wanted to remove my mascara. “You don’t want me to look like a racoon afterwards, do you?” I pleaded with Rolly. As I wasn’t in any pain, he indulged me. While it was true that the nurses had brought me my lunch on the day that Steven was born (after they told me that my baby wasn’t going to come along for hours and hours) and then he was born one and a half hours later, I still felt no need to hurry. When we got to the hospital, after the fifteen minute ride, I was excited, but not stressed. That, however, would soon change.
The walk from the side parking lot of the hospital to the door was no different than any other Sunday stroll until we went through the “Doctors’ Door”.
“You can’t come in that way! That’s the Doctors’ Door!” a bossy nurse loudly chided.
“My wife is in labour!” my normally quiet husband shouted.
Suddenly the nurse was all sunlight and sweetness, as she gently assisted me into a wheel chair and took me to a room to change into the blue gown and slippers hospital wear. She sent my husband in the opposite direction, as this event took place in that pre husband-involvement era of child-birth. As I was still experiencing no pain, she left me to disrobe privately. True, there was a little pressure, but no discomfort. Just as I was bending down to take off my sandals, and debating over whether I should sit down on the plastic chair provided (I still had my twenty- one year old farm girl’s strength and flexibility even while pregnant) something unexpected happened!
“Nurse! Nurse! Nurse!” I yelled.
As the door flew open it was not necessary to say more, because clearly visible to her, as it was to me, the umbilical cord had dropped out! More shouting! This time from the nurse to someone in the hall to summon the doctor. She then dropped to her knees and seemed to make an attempt to try too put everything back in place. Unfortunately, she was met with a little protruding foot. More shouting, and a gurney arrived. Then, somehow two nurses helped me to climb up on top of it.
“We need you to stand on your head!” one of them said excitedly.
“She’s kidding!”, I thought. But then they tested out my twenty-one year old body’s capacity for movement while pregnant as well as extremely stressed. I was certainly not lying down, as in the typical TV hospital scene, as I clattered along the hallway but, rather, in something like a downward dog yoga position!
Rolly was nowhere to be seen, still signing papers to admit me when those requesting consent for an emergency C-section to try to save our baby’s life were suddenly handed to him. Just in front of the operating room doors, the surgeon came jogging up alongside. “Is everything going to be OK?” I asked him plaintively.
“We’ll have to wait and see”, he answered. I remember praying from that point forward, until they put a mask on my face and asked me to count backwards from ten.
“Ten, nine, eight” is all I remember. Then I woke again… immediately… (or so I thought). But by then it was already dark outside and in the middle of a thunderstorm. Rolly was holding my hand, and he had his head resting on the bed next to me. I told him, ” I think I was dreaming. In my dream I was choking , and I was throwing up. Someone was pushing something into my throat and hurting me.”
I wasn’t sure of where I was or why. Then I realized by the terrible taste in my mouth and the unpleasant state of the long locks of hair near my face that what I had at first thought was a bad dream had not been a dream at all.
“We have a baby girl!’ he said reacquainting me with the reason why I was lying in a hospital bed at all.
“Is she OK?” I asked tremulously, “Because, they said they were afraid the cord might be wrapped around her neck! They tried to get me to stand on my head to keep her safe.”
“She’s perfect. She’s beautiful.” he said …. and we both cried. “Shall we call her Sheri like we planned?” he asked.
I gave it the briefest consideration and then said “No. Let’s call her “Carrie” after the street she was almost born on, the street in front of the hospital. And let’s give her the second name Ann after my sister Marsha Ann. That’s a really pretty combination.”…. and so we did….. and she is the most beautiful Mothers’ Day gift I was ever given, because our God is so very good.