My beautiful daughter came into the world, foot-first, on Mothers’ Day. She arrived two weeks early, as if to say, as she has so many times in the decades that have followed since then, “Come on Mom! Let’s just get on with it!” She has been my cheering section ever since. Never one to dawdle, she still approaches life with her best foot forward, and at break- neck speed. No matter what difficulty the task ahead encompasses.
I had no labour pains on the afternoon of her birth. Just a little snap as my water broke, minutes after a bountiful Mothers’ day supper at my Mom and Dad’s. We left our two-year old son, Steven, in the care of my younger siblings and headed off to the hospital. I made my husband stop the car at our home on the farm next door. There I hastily removed my mascara (I didn’t want post- labour racoon eyes; I was twenty-one and vain), and I grabbed my hospital bag.
Fifteen minutes later I was standing alone and naked in a small room in the maternity ward,in Strathroy Hospital, putting on the gown the nurse had just given me. Meanwhile my husband Rolly was at the front desk, signing the admittance papers.
Suddenly I felt a strange sensation and glanced down in shock, to see a loop of the umbilical cord in full view. Shouting ensued! Me, shouting for the nurse! The nurse shouting for a second nurse! That nurse shouting for someone else to summon the doctor!
That was when a little foot made its appearance. The first nurse knelt on the floor and sprayed the cord and the little protruding appendage with antiseptic.The second nurse attempted to push the foot back up where it belonged. Then the two of them hastily assisted me onto a bed, where I was told I was to attempt to stand on my head to avoid the baby pressing down on the cord.
After a few agonizingly frightening minutes I was transferred to a gurney which began rolling down the hallway. At this point I was unable to see anything but the white sheet under my forehead, in my imitation of a “Downward Dog” yoga pose —a humbling position, but one obviously very conducive to prayer, as it was prayer that I was frantically engaged in at that particular moment. Meanwhile, Rolly was shocked at being handed a surgical consent form, on the very heels of the admittance form he had just signed.
And that was how I met the hospital’s surgeon. He came running up beside my breathless entourage and said “I’m Doctor Hoffa. We are going to do a Caesarean Section.” I asked him then if everything would be alright. His answer was honest and brief. “We’ll have to wait and see.”
I woke an hour and a half later, in the middle of a booming thunderstorm, aware of my husband’s soft hair against my arm as he rested his head on the bedside. “We have a baby girl” he said quietly. “Is she alright?” I asked. “She’s perfect.” he answered.
Much like the circumstances of her birth, it seems that Carrie Ann doesn’t have any speed but fast when she begins a task. Sometimes I have jokingly said that even before her arrival she just put her best foot forward and got on with things. Albeit there were a few people who were determined to try to put that little foot back in that day.
As an adult, Carrie has also been the one to take the lead in most situations involving the two of us. When I started up a bakery in the village of Komoka, when she was still a teenager she took a keen interest in perfecting her already notable culinary skills. She began training under the mentorship of some extremely skilled pastry chefs and instructors, while also working with me and very soon I passed the management reins over to her. She just knew how to say “Come on now, let’s just get on with it.” so much better than I ever could. After ten years of working together and successfully bringing our bakery to a key milestone we made a mutual decision to sell it and move on.
Carrie moved on up in the food services industry. At Western University, she trains and teaches others, and motivates them to do their very best. She is very successful in her profession because she gets actively involved in the process of making good things happen, rather than just standing on the sidelines waiting for things to happen.
She is also very loved and treasured by all of her family and friends for those same reasons. In all areas of her life she is always putting her best foot forward, and bringing people joy.
That is why, Carrie Ann, you were and always will be my very best Mothers’ Day Gift ever, Happy Birthday, dear daughter!