Today is my daughter’s birthday. It seems like it was just a few years ago her mom and I brought her home from the hospital, and yet it has been twenty-seven years. It is amazing how quickly they grow up and how, even when they are adults, we as parents still worry about them.
When Rachel was born I was thrilled, excited and just plain scared. I will always remember the day of her birth. Her mom and I were getting ready for work, she wasn’t due for another two weeks, and she came out of the bathroom and told me that she was in labor. I looked at her and said that was impossible, she wasn’t due for another fortnight. Guys, take some advise from one who learned the hard way, NEVER argue with a woman when she says she’s in labor! It could be fatal!
We got to the doctor’s office, and the nurse took one look at mom and said, “Yep, you’re in labor. Get to the hospital.” So off I drove like a maniac to the hospital. Mind you I have no siblings, and never got to witness what all happens in relationships when a woman is pregnant. Personally, I think that pregnant women are the sexiest things on earth, but that is only my opinion. However, women in labor are far from sexy, or even sane.
It took hours for this kid to decide to be born, I guess she was comfy-cozy and didn’t want to come out. When it finally did come time for the birth, it was an experience that I will never forget. While the “miracle of child-birth” is a beautiful thing, the actual birthing is not. Couple that with the fact that a woman has something akin to a bowling ball coming forth from her and you have a very unforgettable experience.
My daughter’s mom, my ex-wife, is actually one of the sweetest, kindest and most soft-spoken women I have ever known. But on that fateful day she sounded like a truck driver or sailor just in on leave. She said words that I didn’t even know she knew, and most of them, all of them, were directed at me. She called into question my parentage and whether my folks were really married. She made references to my mother that cannot be repeated in polite company. She even insisted that my mother was of the canine species. All the while she kept accusing me of “having done this” to her. As I remembered the nine months earlier she voluntarily agreed. At one point in the delivery she decided that she was done, and attempted to get up and leave. Another word of advise gentlemen, don’t EVER try to hold down a woman in the middle of a delivery, she will try to bite, and she won’t care where!
She and I have discussed the birth of our daughter over the years, and she still insists that she never said any of the things I remember, or that she tried to leave. But who are you going to believe? The woman attempting to pass a bowling ball or the poor sap who was trying to be “helpful?”
Mom and daughter stayed in the hospital for a couple of days, and when we came home mom was exhausted. At the time we lived in a one bedroom attic apartment, and had set up a cradle for Rachel next to our bed. After getting everyone settled in and unpacked, mom fed Rachel, and what goes in must come out, so I was asked to change her diaper. Again, remember I have NO siblings, nieces, nephews etc. I was 25 and I swear I had NEVER changed a diaper in my life! But I took the challenge, having a college education I figured, “How hard can this be?”
I put my three-day old daughter on our bed, removed the diaper (how anything that small can make that much of a mess is beyond me) and began to look for the clean diaper and other assorted wipes and creams. They were on the other side of the room, along with the diaper pail. I figured she a couple of days old and all she does is eat, sleep and poop so she wasn’t going to go anywhere. I left her on the bed, sans diaper, went and got the needed items and returned to the bed to finish the job. Please answer this question: How can anything that small, in that short of time, produce that much pee? She completely soaked the bed, all the way down to the mattress. That was the day I learned that you have the new diaper right there with you when you are changing a baby. That is not something they told us in birthing class. You would think that would be something important to tell new parents. Over the years I have changed more than a few diapers, and I have gotten quite adept at it, but I still don’t know how something as tiny as a baby can produce so much “stuff.”
When she started school we made a deal that I would take her to lunch on her birthday, and that is something she and I did from first grade until she was a sophomore in college. That was the year she was in New Zealand, and when she returned we picked back up where we had left off. Because of my medical problems and financial issues these past two years have been missed. But we have the memories of nearly twenty years of birthday lunches, and for that I am grateful.
My daughter now teaches high school and loves what she does. I like to think that she is a GREAT teacher, and is having an impact on the mush for brains that are progressing through our school systems. Unfortunately for her she did not inherit her mother’s soft spokenness, but rather is like her father, she can lean towards the obnoxious side a bit. She did inherit her mother’s brains and good looks (thank God, because she would look terrible with a mustache). She also inherited from both of us a deep abiding love of learning.
I am proud of her, love her, and wish her the happiest of birthdays!