I am not a writer. Do not place the burden of correct punctuation or grammar from years of higher learning upon me. I’m just going write and share a moment of my life.
Where do I begin?
I was born to a life I hadn’t planned for on the day my daughter was born. A path for lack of a better term and not always the path I had imagined for myself or my life. I was married to a man who was still a boy with a life time of emotional issues behind and in front of him, yet I was to naive to see. My mother always said, “We plan and God laughs!”. Boy do I understand that now. Living in Manhattan. I thought a dog would be a great time commitment and a bonding experiment. He wanted a child. Thinking it would take months to conceive, I agreed. A baby was made the first night.
To say I was unprepared is an understatement. Not really being adept at baby care without guidance. Thinking every cry was a small earthquake and every smile was the sun coming up for the first time. Yet, feeling unprepared to be a parent and just ahead the challenge of being a single parent while my soon to be ex went off to be happy. Back to the impending birth however…
I waited too long to go to lamaze classes. When I called to schedule a class, the woman at NYU made me cry out of shame. The fast track classes were also full. The OB/GYN gave me a video to watch at home. The moment the woman started to have contractions I had a panic attack and turned off the video. By my due date I had willed this baby to never appear. I sat on the couch and cried to my mother that they just needed to take this thing out of me. Ten days later I felt something was not right. The doctor declared her breech and scheduled a C section for Monday. I could go on with the details, but they are boring. Let’s just finish by saying it was the blizzard of 95 where all of NYC shut down and I could not get to the hospital or home. It was all against me. Once at the hospital, trapped there for a few days while NY dug out from under feet of snow.
The day my daughter was born. She was perfect and I experienced that corny moment of wonder as soon as I saw her face. I was instantaneously a mommy. I wanted 5 more of these little gems!! So much lay ahead for her, for all of us. A chance at perfection or least opportunity to be more, do more and have more life experiences. A clean slate of possibility and all we could show her of the world which all came to 18.5 years later and the day my baby squeaked out the words into the phone, “Mommy I am going to have a baby.”. “When?” I asked. “Today.” she replied.
The night before I packed my bag to go out of town on business. She had work the next morning. In 24 short hours my daughter went from being a college student, working a summer job at the beach club and planning her trip to Italy for fall semester to having a baby. My baby went off to an all girls university, gained the freshman 15. Only this 15 pounds was not baby fat, it was just BABY. The boyfriend she met immediately upon beginning school had spent holidays with us and in fact was at the beach working and staying with us for the summer. How did no one know? Were we blind? Here is that 24 hours period in reflection.
I was going to Virginia to a conference and to see clients. The evening before I packed, made some dinners for the kids while I’d be away and drove the 5 hours to Virginia. I awoke at 6am to a text from my daughter saying she had been unwell all night and just felt progressively worse. My first thought was something I cooked had not set well. Back and forth she described her stomach and back and the pain. My first response was to ask if she could be pregnant. No of course not, I’ve been on the pill for almost 3 years. Now we live on an island that is an hour from the hospital and at best this is a hospital that you go to for minor issues. We’ve visited it for a pain here or a ear ache there, but nothing major. I went through all the things it could be, I consulted my mother, we fretted.
“Go to the hospital, let’s not take a chance on having an emergency” I replied to her crying. The boyfriend spoke with me about how she was feeling, how she looked. We all agreed, call work let them know you won’t be in and go. The suspicious side of me called her back, “Don’t let anyone do x-rays or put you in any machinery until they know what is wrong”. Just in case. Just in case.
I paced with my mother and reasoned through all her pains, and she paused and laughingly said that she sounds pregnant. Laughingly. I look at that moment now and see it in slow motion. Call me when you get to the hospital. Tell me what they say. Call me. Be Careful. I love you. Call me.
I chewed at a cuticle and paced. My mobile rang, we spoke, the world stopped spinning and for a moment I knew everything I had worked for was gone or was about to change. What? When? Today…. how? Leaving my briefcase and work aside, I left to make that 5 hour drive back to my daughter. To the hospital. To a baby.
I will spare you the drive, meeting the other parents, my useless ex, my parents, the doctors and anyone else who had contact with me for the next 24 hours. I’ve had finer hours. But what comes from struggle and confusion is sometimes clarity. Clarity that she is still the same girl who volunteers anytime she is asked, who uses her manners with anyone without prompting, who loves her family, who stood up in a situation not of her choosing and did the right thing.