One good thing about February

There is one good thing about February; it’s the month my daughter was born.

She has an amazing sense of humor. I took this picture as we were leaving Tangier, Morocco with her friend, Jen, on our way to my son’s wedding.

She was supposed to make her grand entrance into this world on January 14.  By the time February arrived, I was officially 9 1/2 months pregnant, and our doctor worried that the placenta would get “too old.”

I was worried that I’d be pregnant for life.

February 14th, the doctor insisted on inducing labor.  I sat with pitocin dripping into my arm for hours.  Not one single contraction worth noting.  She refused to share the monumental occasion of her birth with Valentine’s day.

February 15th,  I sat with pitocin dripping into my arm again.

Same result.

I was consigned to the possibility that an 11 month pregnancy might make it into the Guinness World Book of Records, and prepared to return home.

The doctor arrived for his rounds around noon, in time to see me touching my toes.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“I have a backache,” I replied.

I mean…really?  Who doesn’t have a backache when they’re 10 month’s pregnant?

“You’re in labor.  I need to check dilation.”

Ends up, he was correct.  The cramps began in time for my husband to rush from work and arrive at  the hospital.  Three hours later, I was wheeled to delivery.

It seemed fitting that my baby girl chose to share her birthday with Susan B. Anthony, considering that my daughter’s motto has always been, “It’s better to ask forgiveness than permission.”

Labor rooms are not all the same.

When my son was born in a large city, we stayed in a room together that looked like any other bedroom containing a hospital bed.

When my daughter was born, it was in the usual colorless hospital room. 

The nurses at the fairly new, rural hospital had never witnessed a woman giving birth naturally (without epidural).  Between contractions, I was cracking jokes and telling the doctor when it was time for me to push.

Later, my husband said the nurses were lined up at the door.  They couldn’t believe what they were seeing.

I couldn’t believe that no one allowed me to hold my baby, who was whisked away a few minutes after birth.  The hospital had a rule that the baby could not be given to his/her mother for the first 10 hours after birth.

It seems that I was the first woman to give birth in that hospital who didn’t scream for an epidural.

How very inconvenient of me to be so independent.  Well…they should have known this wasn’t going to be typical.  It WAS Susan B. Anthony’s birthday, after all.

A few hours later, I insisted that someone with a brain discuss the folly of a 1-size-fits-all rule about when a mother can see her baby.  They sent a male psychiatrist to talk with me.

All I remember about that very unsatisfying conversation was, in a nutshell:

‘You don’t have a vagina. Go away.’

After he left my room to provide hospital administration with who-knows-what kind of “diagnosis”,  I heard the sound of an air-raid siren coming down the hallway.

“Here, take her. Please,” the very tired nurse said, “We can’t do anything with her.”

Obviously, she expected my daughter to continue crying in my arms.  It was very satisfying to see her shocked look when my baby girl stopped crying and started guzzling her first meal.

My reply, though I don’t remember the exact words, went something like this, “My daughter is not impressed with your draconian rules, either.  She knows what she wants, and she wanted her mother.”

If you have the privilege of meeting my daughter some day, you’ll find that she has the world’s cutest dimple when she smiles.  She can light up a party when she’s happy, but when she’s not happy people scatter.

This may sound odd — but her intense personality is one of the many things I love about her.

Ah, the stories I could tell about her courage — like the time a boy in one of her classes tried to push her head into a buzz saw, and he found out the hard way that she was quite capable of fighting back.



2004, Morocco:  Left to right, next to the huge pole: My daughter is wearing a gold shirt. I’m wearing the white tunic