Today was my daughter’s 7th birthday party. My husband (God bless him) took our four kids to church by himself so I could stay home and take care of last minute party details.
As soon as they left, I embarked on two hours of completely non-party related activities, including mopping my boys’ bathroom floor (absolutely disgusting), cleaning out the litterbox (also disgusting) and gathering dirty dishes and glasses from the boys’ room. I put away laundry, made a bed, swept up cat-fur tumbleweeds, did a couple loads of laundry, loaded the dishwasher (with all the dishes I found in the boys’ room), scurried here and there moving things to their rightful locations.
Finally, I showered and rushed off to buy ice and balloons–and I returned to Marshall’s to request that they please remove the security tag that they failed to remove from my daughter’s new swimsuit the other day.
I returned home with enough time to load up the Costco cake and an armful of beach towels and a carload of kids and a cooler and the matches and three push-pins and birthday candles and my camera with a freshly charged battery.
We arrived at the pool about three minutes before the party started.
However, and most importantly, the sun shone! Summer returned. And guests arrived.
Whenever we celebrate her birthday at the pool, I remember the day she was born.
I was due on September 5th and expected she’d arrive a week after her due date, simply because my son arrived nine days past his due date. Plus, school started on September 3 and I wanted the kids to be settled before the baby arrived. I thought September 10 would be perfect.
In 2002, on September 2, which happened to be Labor Day, I went into labor. However, I did not believe that contractions five minutes apart was labor. I noticed those contractions by lunch time. So I fed the kids (frozen pizza) and told my husband that I just wanted to rest and I’d join him and the kids at the pool later in the afternoon.
They went to the pool and I ran bathwater. It is said that a bath will stop false labor, you know, and I was confident that I could get those pesky contractions to stop. Before the bath, I called my midwife just to let her know that I was having contractions but that I was sure they’d stop.
After half an hour in the bath, I realized my contractions weren’t stopping.
I got out of the tub and began to time them. They were two minutes apart.
Huh. I wondered to myself if the distance between contractions mattered more or less than the length of the contractions themselves. I pulled a pregnancy book from the shelf to look up that information and sat on my birthing ball to bounce awhile. That’s supposed to help with pain.
Between contractions, I began to cry. I called the midwife back and left a message. When she returned my call, I answered, “Hello? Just a minute.” Then I put down the phone and moaned my way through a contraction.
She told me she’d come and check me.
I expected that the contractions would stop. If they didn’t stop, I figured I’d be laboring for a day or two because I labored for forty-three hours with my son.
While I waited for my midwife to drive the forty-five minutes from her house to mine, I decided to tidy up. I started upstairs with my twins’ room–I made the bed, vacuumed, picked up toys. Every two minutes I had to stop, curl up and breathe through contractions. Downstairs, I vacuumed and put things away . . . stopping every two minutes to hug the coffee table or kitchen counter and breathe through a contraction. I had intended to wash the lunch dishes but by the time I got to the kitchen sink, I realized that would be impossible. I filled up a water-bottle with water and ice and went upstairs.
By the time the midwife arrived, I had decided not to have a baby. When contractions came, I threw myself to the ground and vocalized–which is a fancy way of saying I yelled.
I was utterly unprepared. My birthing tub was dry. I hadn’t even begun to fill it. I hadn’t called any of my labor support people. My husband was still at the pool with my kids. But the midwife told me I was five centimeters dilated and that I was very definitely going to have a baby.
Despite this convincing evidence, I telephoned my labor support people, my mom and my sister (who was to take pictures) and told them to take their time. I knew I’d labor for days–maybe even weeks–and didn’t want everyone sitting around waiting on me.
Two hours after the midwife arrived, my daughter arrived, all 8 pounds, 8 ounces of her. My husband missed the birth entirely. (He came in about 10 minutes after her birth.) My friends, my labor support people–everyone but my mom and sister–missed the entire event.
She was born just before 7 p.m., about six hours after I first noticed I was in labor, even though I denied I was in labor for four of those six hours.
So, as a baby who was born underwater on Labor Day, it’s only fitting that we celebrate her birthday every year at the pool, that same pool where her father saw a rainbow just after she was born.
Happy birthday, Baby Girl. I will never think of Labor Day the same again.