Twenty-five years ago today I delivered all 7 pounds of you on a sleeping bag spread out on the floor of Daddy’s and my bedroom in our Victorian on Grand Avenue in Sherman, Texas. Daddy and Patricia – dressed in their matching green hospital sweats they’d managed to procure just for this occasion – were both running around shouting, “The book says we need shoelaces to tie the cord,” and “We need more towels.” The book was one I had gotten from the library just in case we had an emergency home birth since the midwife lived 60 miles away. I was lying on my side per her phone instructions, breathing hee hee hee who, hee hee hee who over and over. Jenny, a friend of ours, was there rubbing the small of my back while Daddy and Patricia scrambled to get those supplies. You apparently were a little more eager than any of us had anticipated; maybe you were ready to meet your two big sisters.
The shoelaces and the extra towels were right there, just in case, when the midwife breezed in, took one look at me and said, “So, are you ready to push?”
I don’t remember saying anything at all, but I’m guessing my facial expression communicated my thoughts.
“Let’s roll you over on your back and you can get started,” she said, nodding at Daddy and Patricia to help. Sister Sarah was right there too, plus Jenny. I believe I learned later that five-year-old Elizabeth and Jenny’s daughter Kate were in Liz’s bedroom mixing up some concoction that ended up spilling on the carpet. (I never could get that stain out of that rug!)
All I remember is being propped up on pillows on the floor and finally getting to push. I was expecting a long haul: I’d pushed for at least an hour with Sarah and 45 minutes with Liz. But after two strong pushes, Harriet, the midwife said, “One more big one and I believe you’re going to have your baby. I was shocked. Was that possible?
Just at that moment I heard our neighbor’s car start next door. Every day at exactly 7:35 am they took their kids to school. So, thanks to our neighbor’s obsessive promptness, I knew exactly time it was.
I gave that push all I had, felt a whoosh and then heard a little cry.
“It’s a girl,” Harriet announced and handed you to Daddy. He put you in my arms so we could give you a good look-see.
There you were: a bald little girl with great big eyes, a round tummy and skinny little legs and arms.
You gave me a look that read, “Ah, there you are.”
I stared right back: Yes, baby, here I am.
Who knew that skinny-legged little girl would grow up to be such a beautiful, smart and kind young woman?
Wait, I can answer that question: Daddy and I knew.
Happy birthday, sweet pea. You have the best part of your life opening before you now. Embrace it with gusto. I don’t have to tell you to push yourself out of your comfort zone, you do that already. I’ll just sit back and enjoy watching you grow even more beautiful, inside and out, over these upcoming years.
I love you very much.
Baby Rachael with Sisters Liz and Sarah
Rachael, Age 2 1/2 with Sonny and Emily
Rachael, Middle School
Rachael and Friends, High School
Auntie Rachael and Luna
Rachael and her Besties
Auntie Rachael and Nico
Rachael and Ariel