Saturday, 7 May 2016

Four Days in My Life

The days stream by in a steady blur in retirement with little to mark one from the other. Occasional appointments and events dot my calendar and I am amazed at what month it is already - every single time! It feels a little like a vacation, I suppose, but without the impending end that looms in the near future. Day after day I enjoy this time, letting the minutes and hours flow together much like my breath - inhale/exhale, inhale/exhale. There are four days. however, that still stand out in my mind more than any others in my life - four amazing days each with its own miracle.

Day #1 - June 22, 1972
Labour pains woke me as I tried to sleep in the still strange bed at my in-laws' home. In a transition to our new home in Brandon, Manitoba I missed the comfort of my own "stuff", of being in control of my own environment and certainly having my own personal space without someone commenting on my food or sleep or degree of exhaustion as the birthdate for my firstborn came ever closer. At 5 AM I waddled to the bathroom and sploosh - yep, amniotic fluid everywhere. The whispers and activity woke my mother-in-law, dear soul, and she waved her son and me off to the hospital with a smile and reassurances all would be OK. Five hours later, in a drug-induced stupor, I held my first baby girl in my arms and fell in love - deeply, over the top, 100% all in kind of love! Lisa Michelle captured my heart in a way only a mother could describe. Her spiky hair, her tiny little cries, more like a kitten than a wailing baby, her perfect little mouth - I took it all in and held her as she curled up into a tiny little ball on my chest. The wails became louder as the days went on and the exhaustion kicked in as I wobbled my way through my first year as a Mom, but I will never forget how it felt to feel the warmth of my own child against my chest and experience her newborn smell as I kissed her head.

Day #2 - April 30, 1975
The Calgary sun shone brightly that April and my three-year-old, Lisa had the scraped knees to prove it. Labour set in with intensity in the wee hours of the morning. With Lisa cared for, off we drove to the Grace Hospital to welcome our next child. False alarm but due to my size and the size of the baby, they decided to keep me. I walked the halls of the maternity wing, gazing dreamily at the nursery and talking to fellow patients as I made my laps. My doctor induced me at dinner time and went home not expecting to see me until the next morning. Our little Vanessa saw otherwise, assessed the situation, and decided to take on the world outside the womb, on her own time, of course. She had a little entanglement with the umbilical cord but thankfully, slipped through with the doctor's help and greeted the world with blinking eyes, wide awake, just after midnight. I noticed how much longer she was than her sister, with downy hair instead of the dark spikes, and, above all, I how wide awake she was, and I swear, how she even smiled at me and some of her dad's colleagues who had stopped at the hospital after their evening shift at the Calgary Tower. A sweet, happy, embracing, engaged child - my little bit of sunshine. Rarely cranky, always up for any challenge, and ready to take on anything her sister could do, Vanessa owned her Mama's heart from Day One. Never fear, young moms - there is indeed enough room in your heart for each and every child - a special place and the only time 100% can happen over and over again.

Day #3 - May 14, 1978
Living near the small town of Sundre, I waddled my way around our rural home, excited about the impending birth of our third child. As the due date came and went and the baby continued to grow, the doctor became concerned and decided to induce my labour once again. This ensured an easy transition with Grandma already on her way to take care of the other two children, bags packed, the car full of gas - list fully checked. It was Mother's Day and, truly, my most memorable Mother's Day ever. Christy Jo-Leen was born just after dinner time with a church full of people praying for her safe delivery. Good timing, little one. I loved holding this little chubby sweet thing - she was cuddly and turned towards me with abandonment. With many tense hours of concern over jaundice that turned my sweet darling into a very yellow baby, I cuddled this little one endlessly when I was allowed to take her out of the incubator and never let her leave my sight. She was sleepy and adorable with big blue eyes, dark, curly eyelashes and more dark hair than any baby I had seen. I often told her she would be the baby of the family forever. Sorry Christy. That isn't quite the way it turned out, but you made a wonderful big sister!

Day #4 - July 20, 1982
Our surprise bundle was on the way. I have to admit I was not prepared for this little one. There was no nursery and no crib but there was certainly going to be a baby - a big baby. Having had a late ultrasound to check for twins, I was pretty certain we were having a little girl. I went into labour late in the evening and stayed at home until my contractions were long and close. The hospital was minutes away in our small town and I was in no rush to wait around there. I called the hospital finally, reported the data, and was instructed to get to the hospital immediately. Whoops. Two hours later, with some complication, I delivered a wonderful baby girl. My first sight of her was a grey, lifeless-looking body as they whisked her away to pure oxygen and an isolette. Time stood still as we waited for this little darling to breathe. Four very long minutes ticked off on the big clock as I held my breath, willing my new little daughter to take her first one. Four minutes on the dot she inhaled and cried. Her body went from blue to pink as her lungs drew in the much-needed oxygen. I did not get to hold her right away. My arms ached for her as the doctor and nurses in the small town hospital checked her thoroughly and monitored her vitals. Finally, they brought her to my waiting arms, all wrapped up in a blanket, sleepy from her ordeal. The delivery injured her brachial plexis which paralyzed her left arm. My sleepy baby endured, and grew, and became the joy that can melt every heart in her range. Her big blue eyes and ready smile, her arms that sought cuddles and kisses, her early connection with those around her - all these things made her a walking, talking miracle.

So, if you have made it this far into my post, you are truly a mother yourself - by birth or adoption or ache to be one. You have your own stories to treasure. And, if you are blessed with grandchildren, you will be able to add to these stories as each new little one takes a place in your heart - even at a distance.
Miss you Mom!!

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers who have their own miracles to hold close, but especially Happy Mother's Day to all my grown up angels!!



  1. What a lovely post! Those are memorable days, aren't they? I think if you ask the oldest woman you know about her birth days, she would be able to tell you. I like what you said about retirement feeling a little like a vacation. That's how I feel, and it's been 3 yrs.

    1. Hi Mona. Thanks for your comment. I am only 2 years in but can't imagine ever working full time again! My daughters are my joy! I am so glad you enjoyed the post!


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