On today’s date in 1987, I received the final one of the four greatest gifts of my life. Our sweet Elizabeth was born at home on Saturday, November 28.
I was playing a card game with Jamie, then nine, when I realized I was in labor. It was around one in the afternoon. I was a week overdue as usual, and believed I had plenty of time. So I started straightening up, because my parents were coming over, my mother to stay for the birth and my father to subsequently high tail it out of there. God forbid he be exposed to a body function (he ended up killing time at the nearby mall and came home with a tiny teddy bear with sparkly pink fur for the new baby when he found out it was a girl). The boys (Ryan was ten) went down the street to play at a neighbor’s. Mary Kate was two and was going to go to my friend Louise’s until the baby was born.
I called Dennis’ office. He was a tugboat captain but the boat was in the yard for maintenance. Even though they weren’t at sea at the time, in those days before cell phones, it was still tough to get a hold of the guys on the boat. You had to call the dispatcher, they relayed the message and then whoever you needed to talk to would call you back as soon as they could get free. I wasn’t worried though, I knew I had hours. When he called me back about a half hour later, I told him things had started but there was no rush. So he went back to work.
I picked up toys, finished the dishes and was mopping the kitchen floor when I felt a pop and water gushed down my legs. Uh oh. I was a week overdue, this was my fourth baby, my water had just broken and I had just told my husband, who was three hours away, there was no hurry. This was not good.
I called my midwife who headed up. I called Louise who rushed over, finished mopping the floor (only the best of friends will do these things for you) and collected Mary Kate. Meanwhile I called Dennis back at work. The dispatcher droned he wasn’t sure where he was or if he could get him the message right away or… “I’M HAVING A BABY! FIND HIM!” I shrieked into the phone. He called back within five minutes and was on his way.
By now it was four o’clock. The contractions were coming hard and fast. And I was determined not to have this baby until its father was home.
Fianlly it was just me, Bianca, my midwife, and my mother in our quiet house. I sat as still as I could on the family room sofa, willing my labor to be slow, while Bianca and my mother sat knitting and chatting. Dennis burst through the door at 7 o’clock after a three hour trek from the far side of Brooklyn through a nightmare of traffic. I got up, changed into a nightgown, climbed into bed and had the baby at 7:25.
We were so happy it was another girl!! Bianca handed Dennis the scalpel to cut the cord and he handed it to my mother. “I cut the last one, now you can have a turn.” he said. She was so pleased. Now both of them are gone, which is incredibly sad.
The kids came filtering back along with family and friends to admire the new baby. And our life began as a family of six instead of five.
As I have said before, the happiest moments in my life have been because of my children. And Elizabeth has been no exception. She has a sweet, sensitive disposition and has always been a champion of the underdog, which makes me very proud of her. She was born with a hole in her heart, which was repaired when she was six, but her heart is her strongest attribute. We are lucky to have her.
Happy birthday, Elizabeth.
|Elizabeth and her fiance Matt|
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