Last night my husband and I took my mother-in-law out for dinner. This was not how the evening was supposed to go… but that’s what I love about life, because the night turned into a lovely golden thread of beautiful memories for all of us.
Actually, my mother-in-law was scheduled for surgery this morning but plans changed when she was diagnosed yesterday with an infection. With a round of antibiotics, the surgery will be on again, probably next week. But of course she was very nervous, then frustrated, so my husband and I eased her angst by taking her out for her favorite dinner at a little gem of a place here in Rhode Island. Yes, the Alaskan King Crab Legs, sweet potato, spinach, and tons of bread and buttah (as she calls it) were just what the doctor ordered, and soon she was cracking up with laughter at my husbands’s jokes and antics. He knows just how to make anyone, especially his mom, feel bettah.
My mother-in-law is 89 years old. She drinks beer. Tells jokes. And still bakes treats for her kids, grandkids, and now great-grandkids. So I wasn’t surprised when she brought along a gift bag of her famous cinnamon twirls to drop off at Audrey’s home. Yes, she not only remembered Audrey’s birthday, but spent the day before her supposed-to-be surgery baking Audrey’s favorite cookies. She placed them into a Tupperware container that she remembered Audrey loving as a child, and birthday wrapped them in a beautiful presentation. But remember… this is all on top of being worried about the surgery that was canceled at the last minute.
But anyway… Flo got to talking about the baby shower that she “threw” for me when I was expecting Audrey, the shower that happened to be 30 years ago yesterday. Yes, the exact date as our little dinner last evening. She reminisced about what she baked that day, who was there, what I wore… and especially about how I carried things up and down the stairs that day as she warned me that I would be having that baby sooner than I should.
Well, she was correct. The shower was on May 21. Audrey was due June 26. I went into labor 30 years ago today, May 22.
I knew something was going on when I felt a whirlpool-like swish that woke me up from a sound sleep. I knew something was going on when I saw a little pinkish-ness on the morning toilet paper. So as soon as I arrived at school that morning (30 years ago today!), I rushed to our school nurse and told her of my “condition.” She smiled and said, “Honey, you’re in labor.”
“But I can’t be! The baby isn’t due for 5 more weeks!” I said. Well, cried.
So began my day. Me in total denial. But my denial was not something Audrey was considering, so at 10:00 am, as I stood up to teach a class, my water broke. I was so huge that I couldn’t see my legs and feet, so I asked my team-teacher if there was water… or blood… on the floor. She saw nothing, so I knew the liquid had to be clear. Thank God.
Thank God, too, that my husband and I taught at the same school, so I sent a student from my English department to the Math department to PLEASE get my husband.
My husband was there in a heartbeat and off we went to the hospital. I was admitted immediately. My husband made all the important calls. His mother said, “I told her not to be going up and down those stairs.” And we waited.
But it seems that Audrey had changed her mind.
I had contractions all that day, 30 years ago today. But none so alarming that the baby seemed imminent.
At midnight my husband was sent home to rest up for the next day, when I would be induced further.
I remember staring at the night sky and the stars from my hospital window. I knew my little baby was a bit too early to be coming, but I prayed and prayed for a healthy baby. I thought of all the shower gifts that were piled into a corner of the un-prepared nursery. I thought of my dad who had died three years earlier, and who so wanted to be a grandpa. I knew he was smiling from above.
The next morning, May 23, was a spectacular warm and sunny May morning. And I labored that morning, that afternoon… until a cesarean delivery was “ordered.”
My husband was allowed into the delivery room with me… and I watched my husband’s eyes as he watched our baby be born into this glorious world. And at 5:53 pm our little girl made her beautiful appearance. She weighed 4 lbs. 9 oz. and measured 17 inches. She was the most beautiful baby. She was whisked away for all the necessary premie things… and I woke up a couple of hours later in recovery.
As I opened my eyes, our pediatrician was standing over my bed. He told me that my baby was perfect… and he wanted her name so the nurses could put it in big letters across her incubator.
That moment defined my baby girl. I had thought Allison Audrey was a lovely name. My husband LOVED Audrey Allison. And at that moment, I knew just how loving and special and perfect this daddy was for this perfect little baby girl.
I whispered, “Audrey Allison.”
Our Audrey Allison has always loved her name. And each time I say it, I think of my husband’s eyes as he watched her come into this world. His first daughter. His first little baby girl.
And I think of my mother-in-law… scolding me for walking up and down those steps on the day of my baby shower.
And guess what? She was still scolding me last night! Ah, yes… we had such a wonderful time talking and smiling and laughing and being scolded about those days when our precious little bundle of joy was making her way to us.
So Audrey… happy almost 30th. 30 years ago today I was thinking of my baby… you!
And thanks, Nana Flo… for all the wonderful memories of that special, special time.
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