Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Birthday Boy

Micah was supposed to be born on November 13th. This was back in the day, before ultrasounds, so who really knew for sure? But I was definitely counting on it.

We were living in a trailer (which I recently learned is not called a trailer anymore. It's a manufactured home, now. But it seemed a lot like a trailer then. You could have hooked it to a strong car and pulled it somewhere.) Anyway, we had a 3 year-old, and an 18-month-old, and it was pretty crowded in our 12' x 48' little home. The kids each had a miniature bedroom, and Dee and I slept on a hide-a-bed in the living room/kitchen. I mean, can you picture how anxious I was to move? We had just finished building a new home 40 miles away, with lots of space, a garage, and a washer and dryer, but we were waiting for Micah to arrive.

Thanksgiving came and went without the awaited special guest, and I was still preggers in a big way. On December 1st I went to the doctor, depressed as could be, since I was now in another month from when I was due. The doctor checked me out, and said, "You know, you could go into the new year." The new year!! I burst out crying and said, "I can't! I just can't!" He patted me on the knee and said it would all be fine. How did we survive in the days before the OB started you? They must have been as happy as women were when they finally invented that technology. Who wants a 10-month pregnant woman crying on your shoulder?

So, two days later Dee called on a snowy, cold afternoon, and asked if anything was happening. "No," I said, glumly. "OK. I'm selling a house tonight, so I won't be home until about 8." No problem, I told him. At the very second I hung up the phone, I felt the tale-tale tightening band in my back that finished in a doozy of a labor pain. No cell phones, of course. The kids were in the tub, and too little to get out and dress themselves. So I called my neighbor.

Cute Merlene. She came and took care of the kids, fixed them dinner and timed my pains. They were stronger and coming every five minutes. She was terrified, but I wanted to wait for Dee. We agreed that she'd have her husband bring her two kids over so she could tend them all. Her hubby, Jim could take me to the hospital if Dee wasn't home by 7:30, or if the pains got to two minutes apart. The hospital was only a block away.

I had already had one baby without my husband (ROTC summer camp) and I did not want to repeat that experience. Especially with Merlene's husband holding my hand. It was very stressful. Her husband was more anxious to take me than to tend all the kids, so there was a "discussion" going on between them while I was writhing around, and reassuring my kids that I was fine. It felt very old-fashioned. Maybe I'd deliver on the kitchen table where my dad was born, with my toddlers observing the whole process. I was reaching the stage of "I don't care....just get this baby out of me!!!"

Right at the exact moment of decision we heard the truck arrive. Merlene opened the door, and told Dee what was happening, they loaded me in and then stayed with the kids, while Dee sped me to people who knew what to do. They put me in a wheelchair, and ran me upstairs, where I was checked, and they immediately said it was show time. Dee was still filling out paper work and they yelled to him to get on his greens (his little pretend doctor outfit), and he ran down the hall to join me.

Micah made his appearance 10 minutes later. My other two babies had been breach and posterior (all-natural births in those days of my hippy life. I never understood why all the other hippies were doing drugs for no reason at all, and my version of the code was having no drugs even when you were birthing a child.) Because of the enormous pain of the two prior inconsiderate entries to the world, Micah became the official favorite kid. He just pretended he was on a luge run, and slid out in record speed. He was darling, perfect, and it was close to a painless delivery. Well worth the wait.

His name had been Seth, Issac, Benjamin, and Jakob (pronounced Ya-cope) over the months we discussed it. The middle name was always going to be Micah. (We were apparently really into Old Testament names at the time) but he just arrived as Micah, and the decision was made. Bag those other names, we had a Micah.

I got a private room for the first time, through a fluke of hospital planning, but it was delightful. It was at the time of the Spiro Agnew scandal, so there was plenty for a political junkie to watch on TV. Micah never cried. He was good natured from the first minute. He laid in my arms while I bit the bottom out of every chocolate in the box searching for a good one, and we watched history play out on the screen dangling from the ceiling.

Dee told me he was moving us into our house. When the baby and I were released, Dee drove us straight to our new digs. Somehow I pictured being carried across the threshold into a perfectly clean, totally organized and decorated home-show type house.

Carrying me across the threshold was out. Dee couldn't carry me even in my pre-pregnancy phase: it was embarrassing to expect it, so I followed him in, carrying my diaper bag, my soggy baby and my now exhausted, soggy self. We headed directly for the bedroom. The bed was in pieces on the floor, with boxes stacked high on the bare, now dusty mattress. I changed the baby, and went into the bathroom. There was sawdust all over everywhere. I had to peel off the sticky labels on the faucets to turn on the water, which initially came out brown. The toilet had been used as a contractor's urinal for several months, and it was already stained and full of floating cigarette butts. The unpacking phase had only gotten as far as hauling boxes in and setting them down on any available floor space.

As this sorted itself out over a couple of days, I got calls from friends anxious to see our new little guy and our new house. I was dying to show it all off. Everyone already had houses, so I was late to the game, but mine was a new house, which had a little edge over theirs. Plus I had upped the ante, with 3 kids to their 2, so it was time to gloat.

I insisted Dee take the kids and get our first real Christmas tree, for our first real house. He said he wanted a living tree. Great! I didn't want pink aluminum, either. When he arrived back, with snow blowing in as he rolled the big stand (it turned out to be a giant pot filled with dirt) into our beautifully prepared living room, I was imagining a giant tree to match the pot. He turned it over and I thought the tree must have fallen out. There was only one skinny branch sticking out of the 3 foot high pot. No pine tree aroma, fresh needles falling off, crisp branches warming up and falling into a lovely triangle shape. The one branch we had was the tree. It was the trunk which was attached to enough roots buried in the dirt to grow a forest. Apparently, this was the living tree I had agreed to, which would later be planted in our yard in fond memory of the lovely Christmas we spent under it's branches----er, stick.

Picture this tree, half the size, with mostly the trunk and a couple of branches; the pot was bigger.

How embarrassing. To have all my friends come to greet the new baby and tour the new house, and have to explain that the (3 foot in circumference) pot of dirt which took up my entire living room, was my Christmas tree. We draped some icicles over the trunk, and luckily Micah was darling enough to keep their attention. This was my first experience with post-partum depression, and I don't think it had much to do with child birth.

I had been scared about life with 3 kids. Two was hard enough, but semi-manageable, but three was going to put a cog in the wheels. I hadn't counted on Micah being the third kid. He was smiley, observant, and funny. When he could barely crawl, Josh would carefully spread his blankey out on the floor. Micah would inch over and tweak the perfect edge, by turning over a corner. Josh would scream and Micah would laugh. He'd figured out how to tease all on his own. Sports teams (the boys that played in the circle) and women (the girl who showed him her underpants at recess) begged him to be their friend from the time he could talk.

As I was telling him off for a major character flaw, he looked up and said, in a totally serious tone, "Mom, you're beautiful when you're angry." Thirty years later I still smile when I remember that line. It's STILL working.

When any of our kid exhibit strange qualities, we always blame it on the other parent. "Yeah, he's a lot like you in that odd behavior." We've each claimed Micah as our clone. We would proudly accept any of his personality traits as our own. He's a gem.

This post has taken so long, that it's not even his birthday anymore. But I've been celebrating his birth the whole time. Happy Birthday, Micah!! You are the Christmas Gift that keeps on giving. Kind of like a tiny living Christmas tree that is now part of the landscape of our lives giving beauty and comfort all year long. You were definitely worth the wait!!!


Granny Annie said...

What a great "The Day You Were Born" story! I still call my children on their birthdays and tell the tale of their day. My children awaken their children on their birthdays and tell the tale of their day. It is a wonderful tradition and makes each child special because each day had its own series of events. Happy Birthday to Micah!

gab said...

Happy Birthday. I know deep down that Micah is your favorite. I am ok with it. He is just toooo charming...he would be my favorite child too.

This story was hilarious!!! Was I potty-trained yet? I hope so! If not, sorry.

Stie: My Favorite Things said...

I love this story; it's one of my favs. I can just picture you pulling up to your new house, baby in tow, just having delivered...only to find that you have to clean and unpack all your stuff. I would have cried.

Happy birthday, Miggs!

Marty said...

Favorites can come and go. I always want everyone doing really nice things for me so they can topple the present favorite and perhaps receive that great honor for themselves. But I have to say, there are done deal favorites, and the giving birth, done deal favorite is Micah!!

And no, Gab, you weren't potty trained, but we were pretending you were. So it was the training pants (no pull-ups, then) with lots of accidents phase. You, of course, were not my favorite at that time! But I accept your apology, and know you have been well paid back on that score.

Miggs said...

Thanks for not stopping at 2. I'm not sure where I would have ended up!

kenju said...

A great story! I will never again complain about my birth stories...LOL

Kay Dennison said...

Marty, we are sisters. My son (my first child) who just turned 33 was due Nov. 13 and didn't show up until Dec. 1st. Like you, I had an easy birth -- had him an hour after I got to the hospital. He was and always will be my Christmas child. Just as his oldest son will always be my birthday present (born two days before my birthday)and his #2 son will always be my leprechaun (named Connor Patrick & born two days before St. Paddy's)