berternie1        A Month of Birthdays  


In my immediate family (husband, children and their families) there are nine of us. Would you believe that FOUR of them have birthdays in January? I want to celebrate each one of my family members in my blog this year. I’d like to share with you what makes each of them special. So, when you see these two birthdays boys here, Bert and Ernie, you’ll know it’s someone’s birthday.

Today we are celebrating Candice. She is our eldest daughter. How does one go about describing a daughter? Here are some words that come to mind: smart and mentally strong, kind, considerate, tenacious, strong-willed but not a bully, sweet yet spicy – full of zest and flavor.  

Candice has several passions: she cares deeply for children – her own two daughters and those she teaches. She cares about saving the planet and is an avid recycler. (I have been known to call her the Recycling Nazi.) She is very well-read, an excellent knitter and a very creative cook and baker. I asked Candice to send me one of her creations so I could share it with you. Here is one of the stories she has written. It makes me laugh, cry and hurt. Enjoy.


                    The January Surprise

                         by Candice 


     The shock of pain pushed my exhausted body from sweet warm slumber. I struggled from the bed clutching my tight enormously round belly. You were kicking and stretching, kicking and stretching. Moving in and out of your upside down frog-position. Elbows and knees extended, your bottom pressing up into my already compressed lungs. Intense spasms shot through my body, held me on tiptoe, and locked my face in an expression of terror. I held my breath. I was unable to speak or move. I looked at the neon glow of the clock flash 4:03, and this torment ended.

     Another wave crashed over me as I lay down on the bed. I gripped the blankets and moaned a low growl. Next to me, Mark slept deeply, completely unaware of the earthquakes erupting in my body. I lumbered to the bathroom as the tremors subsided. I filled the tub with hot water. I sank into the bath, water spilled over the sides of the tub and billows of steam filled the air. My body melted. I relaxed in the water’s warm embrace. The next contraction was manageable. I breathed deeply and allowed the rush of pain to do its work.

     Mark woke up and found me floating in the large claw foot tub.

What are you doing?

Taking a bath.

Taking a bath?

Yes, taking a bath.

At 4 in the morning?

Well, um, yes, at 4 in the morning.

Is everything all right?

I am in the tub at 4 in the morning, yeah, everything’s great.

Are you having the baby?

No. I’m sure it’s just Braxton Hicks contractions. I’ll be fine.

OK. I love you. 

I love you too.

       Mark left for work and I crawled back into bed to try to and get a few more hours of sleep. But they were restless and I resigned myself to get up and move about. I did a lot of hip swaying to help ease the contractions that seemed to be coming every 5 minutes. I phoned Mary, my midwife, when a sizable blob of bloody mucus poured out of my swollen body. Mary instructed me to eat, time the contractions, and relax.

The mind-altering morning reluctantly passed into a frenzied mid-afternoon of slow-motion suspense. I was alone. I was a little nervous. I was thinking. This couldn’t happen today. I was sure it wouldn’t happen today. Mary would come and tell me it was a false alarm. I would go back to sleep and everything would be fine. Normal. Normal and pregnant. Pregnant for two more weeks. They said two more weeks. Two weeks. Not today, not now, but two more weeks. They said the first one is always late. They said February 10th, not for another two weeks. Another glorious two weeks.

A knock on the door… Mary was here. Mary was here to tell me this was just false labor. No big deal. She was here to say everything is OK. She was going to say two more weeks. Yes, because I’m not ready and I’m not due for another two weeks. I know the diapers are folded into a neat pile. I know the impossibly small onesies, teeny-tiny socks and topknot caps impatiently wait to don that sweet chubby baby body. But, I’m not ready. We have a list of names. The middle name will be Quimby, the last name Hayes. But, I’m not ready. Everyone is excited. It is the first grandchild. The tickets are bought and the plans are made. Two more weeks, not now, not today, but two more weeks. There was another knock…

Mary had arrived, and yes, I was in labor, and yes, my contractions were regular, and yes, my cervix was dilated and fully effaced and yes, the baby was coming today. Not two weeks from today, not tomorrow but today. Mary called Mark to tell him to come home. To tell him I was having the baby. It was happening now!

When he walked through the door, Mark’s face conveyed his excitement and joy. He looked a bit like a child on Christmas morning. He was loving, tender, sweet and supportive. Yet, I momentarily resented him. Pregnancy was a lot of work. Nine months of pregnancy was a lot of work. Contractions hurt, in fact, contractions really hurt. And the birth had only just begun.

My labor rapidly progressed and the intensity escalated. I was a good sport. I took the contractions like a champ. I had reached the 10cm mark. I was allowed to push. From a deep primal place inside of me, a goddess was released. She pushed and yelled and my awareness slipped into the darkness. Voices from another world told me the head was out. I didn’t respond. I was no longer present. This magnificent tower of strength, who was immune to both fear and pain, drew in another deep breath, released a powerful shout and pushed this baby out.

     Mark caught a bright red, very small child in his hands. He quickly wrapped her in a white blanket and put her in my arms. The blood seeped into the blanket and transformed it to a pink hue. She was crying, trembling and so fragile. I returned from that dark safe place as I held you, dear one, in my arms.

     This was the day you were born…I’ve told you the story many times in abridged versions, over the years. But today, today is your 9th birthday. Today you are nine years older than that cold day in January when you surprised us. Today I waned to tell you again, the story of your birth.