So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:6-7 NKJV
I’m writing this on December 21, because today is my eldest daughter’s birthday. Today’s Quote of the Day is the account of Mary giving birth and laying Jesus in a manger, and I realized I’ve never shared the tale of Hillary’s birth before. It’s a tale worth telling!
Julie and I had gotten married the previous March 16, and, despite our carefully laid plans, she was with child much sooner than the several years we had planned to wait.
We eventually figured out what causes that sort of thing, but this particular cat was already out of the bag.
Family and friends helped move the small stuff on December 20th while Julie was under strict orders to do nothing but supervise from a chair. I had already changed over the utilities and shut the phone off at the apartment – this was before cell phones.
So we’re back at the apartment that evening, me exhausted from lifting and toting all day. We roll into bed, shut off the light, and within minutes I hear, “Jeff?”
“I think my water just broke.”
“Ha, ha. Go to sleep.” Pause.
“I really think my water broke, Jeff.”
“Quit playing with me, Babe. It’s been a long day.”
“But I…Oh! Oooohh!” Julie scrambled out of bed and headed to the bathroom. I chased her and found her there, standing in the tub, water running down her legs from under her nightie.
So with no phone, I have to drive 2 miles through an arriving snow storm to her parents to call the doctor and tell him to meet us at the hospital. Then I zoom back to the apartment, expecting Julie to be dressed and ready to go. I called for her, since I didn’t see her in the living room.
“Are you OK?”
“Just getting ready.”
Just getting ready? What? I walked down the hall to the bathroom and went in. And there she was. Getting ready. By shaving her legs?
“Well, I’m not going to the hospital like this.” She continued shaving.
Estrogen-based life form. That’s all I could come up with.
It turned into a very long night of induced labor and ended up with the OB taking me aside to say I needed to talk to her about a Caesarian. Hillary was starting to show signs of distress, and things were getting ready to go south. He wanted to get Hillary out before we got anywhere near that actually starting.
I knew Julie would be so disappointed after all of the time we spent in birthing classes, so I approached both her and the topic very gently.
“What?!?” There was an edge there that scared me a little.
“I was just talking to the doctor, sweetie. This has been going on for a while now.” Her head came around, and her face squared up to mine. I swear I could clearly read the words “No” in her right eye and “Shit” in her left.
“Well, the doc says that maybe this isn’t going to happen the way we planned. He’s thinking we should maybe do a Caesarean before the baby goes into distress.” She then spoke the words that I will never forget to my dying day, the stuff of legend and cocktail party stories.
“I don’t care! Rip it out of me!”
Estrogen-based life form.
During the whole pregnancy I had laid my head on Julie’s stomach every night and said the same thing to our unborn child:
“Hey, there! Mommy and I can’t wait to meet you. I hope you’re doing well in there. We both love you very much.”
So I visit the nursery to see Hillary after she’s cleaned up, wrapped in bankies, and lying in a bassinet. She’s fussing pretty good, so I lean over her just as if she’s still in the womb to tell her it’s Daddy, and I love her very much.
She goes immediately quiet, cocks her head to listen, and then goes right to sleep.
What can I say? I was a classically- trained actor with great vocal skills.
Christmas morning I get to the hospital in our ’79 Monte Carlo, secure Hillary in the car seat in back and ease Julie into the front seat. The city is still covered in snow, so I’m driving, oh, so carefully as we both monitor Hillary as best we can from the front seats.
Just a few blocks from the house, neither one of us can hear her breathing anymore, and we start being crazy parents, right? We’re thinking she suddenly died; SIBSDS – Sudden Infant Back Seat Death Syndrome.
Well, of course, she’s just fine. We bundle her into the house, calm ourselves, and sit altogether on the sofa, this brand new family of three. Best Christmas gift ever!
Don’t forget to check out and order your copy of my Christmas novel, The Substance Hoped For!