When my girls were little we started a birthday tradition of telling the story of when they were born. I wanted them to know that even though their dad was not around, they were never unwanted and were welcomed with joy. So, every year I’ve told the stories. When Karrie was in her first year of college, I was awakened by a phone call at 12:01 a.m. on February 20th. I heard her voice reply to my sleepy “Hello?” with “I’m ready for my story!”
Over the years I’ve noticed that I sometimes forget a little detail only to hear a daughter say, “You forgot to tell about. . .” I’m glad that we’ve stuck with this oral tradition and highly recommend it to everyone because someday, perhaps, I won’t remember the story at all. When my dad was diagnosed with Alzheimers, many stories were lost because we had never repeated them enough to remember them or had never written them down. Treasure your memories and keep them safe in written form.
Twenty-eight years ago today, my cousin Diane came to the house to take me to the doctor’s office for my weekly visit. I needed someone to drive me to the doctor’s office in Peoria because I was so large that when I slid behind the steering wheel of the car my short legs couldn’t reach the pedals! On the way out, Dad said, “While you are over there, why don’t you just take her to the hospital so we can get this over with.” Diane laughed and said she’d see what she could do.
When the doctor finished the exam she said, “I want you to go on over to the hospital.” (Proctor was right next door.) I asked, “Why?” She laughed and said I was in labor and already dilated to a 3. My first thought was, “Mom’s not going to believe this.” I walked into the waiting room and saw it filled with people in various stages of pregnancy. I asked the nurse if I could use the phone. (This was way before cell phones!) When mom answered, I told her the doctor wanted me to go to the hospital, and as I suspected, mom laughed and said, “Oh, Lynnette, stop joking around.” “No, mom. I’m not joking.” The waiting room erupted with laughter. Mom’s reply was so like her – she proceeded to tell me all about the big meal she had fixed for me: salmon loaf, mashed potatoes, corn, and dutch apple pie. I specifically remember the dutch apple pie as I was sad that I was going to miss out!
On the third try “Mom, I’m not joking” the nurse asked if I wanted her to speak to mom. That was when mom understood that I really was going to have the baby that day. She got off the phone and tried all the people we had lined up to watch Karrie so Gramma and Grampa could be at the hospital. Not finding anyone, Dad decided he was just going to take Karrie with him. He’d watch her.
Meanwhile, Diane drove me over to the hospital and we took the elevator to the maternity floor. As we came in the nurses were scrambling around and talking about someone who was about ready to have a baby. We stood their watching until one of them finally saw us and asked if she could help us. (Please keep in mind I was extremely pregnant. I wondered what she thought we were there for!) I told her the doctor had told me to come over . . . to which she yelled “Why aren’t you in a wheelchair? Did you WALK up here?” I didn’t know what the fuss was about, or why I had to get in a wheelchair to go twenty feet to the labor room, but it was a hospital and they should know what they are doing.
In the labor room Diane watched the baby monitor and let me know when a contraction was coming. I think she was afraid I’d miss it. My personal favorite was when she’d say, “That was a big one!” I avoided looking at the monitor. Although this was my second baby, I’d never felt a contraction with my first because I had back labor. Contractions are very interesting. I am fascinated by how God has made us! Mom came in to spell Diane who went out to my dad and promptly said, “I’m glad it’s her and not me!”
The doctor came in to break my water (and help things progress). She afterward explained that the baby had been under stress some time during the pregnancy and that they would immediately need to work on the baby’s lungs after birth so I wouldn’t hear a cry. She didn’t want me to be alarmed and every precaution would be taken. Within an hour the doctor was climbing over my bed to wheel me into the delivery room because there wasn’t time to get a gurney.
Mom was my cute little coach dressed in scrubs, a mask, booties, and a hat! She stood beside me holding my hand. One push and a pause to move the cord from around the neck. Another push and a loud wail to which the doctor replied, “It’s a girl!” Tears of joy and mom and I saying together, “We got our Katie! We got our Katie!”
I remember hyperventilating and the nurse telling mom to cup her hands over my mouth so I wouldn’t get too much oxygen. I remember Katie (who hadn’t stopped yelling) being laid on my stomach for bonding, and I remember the warm blanket they covered me with before being rolled back to my room. As we went, I can still see the picture of my dad, holding Karrie in his arms, looking through the doors. I said, “It’s a girl!” and Karrie clapped and said “My sister!” Dad had tears in his eyes.
As a courtesy the nurses offer to give the baby a bottle through the first night to let the mom get some rest. About midnight I woke to a baby crying. A nurse came down the hall and into my room. “Mrs. Goebel, I’m sorry, but your baby won’t take a bottle. (She never did.) We’ve tried everything. Would you mind if we brought her to you?” I heard the baby crying as the nurse carried her down the hall. The minute she was in my arms, she stopped crying. The nurse said, “Well, will you look at that. She knows her mom. You’ll have a wonderful time with this one.”
And I have.