Monday, February 04, 2013

Oldest Daughter's Birth Day

As I anticipated Oldest Daughter's birthday last week, I found myself missing her more than usual, far away as she is, reminiscing about her childhood, and especially that memorable day of her birth. I've told her birth story many times, but I've never recorded the event in writing. Here's to posterity and to my lovely Oldest Daughter:

The end of January 1990 found Dear Husband and I finishing up our third term of Arabic study in Amman Jordan. I was distracted, looking forward as I was to the birth of our first child, a daughter: due date, February 20. We lived in east Amman and studied at a school on the edge of west Amman, depending on public transportation and good 'ole walking to get to and from school: first a shared taxi, a 15-20 minute walk through the city, and then another shared taxi up the hill to language school. There were gentle signs that January day, a full three weeks before my due date, that prompted me to urge Dear Husband to help complete my nest feathering. I insisted we purchase the hanging rod for a quilt I had cross-stitched for Oldest Daughter's nursery--I had finished the quilt the night before, probably when I should have been studying Arabic. So, after school, we walked to the center of the city (about a mile) to buy the rod, then took a private taxi  home--the long curtain rod required it and spared us walking to the shared taxi station.

Our neighbors stopped by for an evening visit, and while serving tea I had to take a few moments in the kitchen to breath through contractions. They weren't too bothersome, so I carried on. Our neighbors, a family who had adopted us into their family and had helped us with everything we needed during our first year in Jordan, reminded us to be sure to call them if we needed a ride to the hospital that night.

Since my due date was still three weeks away, Dear Husband was certain my contractions were false, and so he determined to finish his Arabic studies after our neighbors left, leaving me with the dishes. He would be going to school tomorrow, so of course, he needed to finish his homework.

At some point in the evening Dear Husband, being the good quantitative management/statistics major that he was, began recording my contractions, the duration and intervals. According to Sheila Kitzenger, the author of our lone pregnancy and childbirth book, real labor contractions would increase in duration and intensity while the intervals between contractions would decrease. That seemed an easy enough guide to follow. My stats showed that while contractions continued, they didn't follow this specified patterns, at least not consistently, which meant I must not be in labor. Conclusion: time for bed.

I think I slept awhile but by around 1am I was up by the side of our bed breathing through, and still faithfully recording, my contractions. My stats still weren't conclusive, but I was now questioning my false labor enough that I thought I better wake Dear Husband--who informed me that my breathing was keeping him awake. Poor guy!

We were still too unsure of ourselves to call our neighbors, knowing that they had to work in the morning and the hospital was across town. And how embarrassing would it be if I wasn't really in labor? But how to get to the hospital?

Dear Husband hit the street, looking for transportation, a lone taxi perhaps. He found the neighborhood asleep, except for a few young men who were closing up the bakery. They were willing to give us a ride in their old (no shocks) flour-covered delivery station wagon.

When we arrived at the hospital, we went to the maternity ward and I approached the desk. "I think that I may be in labor" I said, timidly, still unsure if this was the real deal. Upon checking me, the nurse assured me that yes, I was most certainly in labor, and she hoped that the doctor would arrive in time. Oldest Daughter would soon be making her appearance. I was prepped and in the delivery room when my doctor arrived, just about 15 minutes before Oldest Daughter was born.

I briefly held Oldest Daughter and then the nurse whisked her away to be bathed. I practically ordered Dear Husband to follow-that-nurse, and not let Oldest Daughter out of his sight. We had heard stories of nurses insisting on feeding newborns sugar water from a bottle right after delivery and I determined that my baby would not be subjected to such abuse! The nurse showed Dear Husband how to wash a new born under the sink facet and Dear Husband became the designated newborn bather. His hands were larger than mine better for cradling those delicate little heads and necks. 

When the nurse and Dear Husband brought Oldest Daughter to me in my room, I was in awe of this little person who had come from us. How could it be? Could it really be? 

Our Arab friends told me that the first child is known as the one who opens the womb. Oldest Daughter is the one who also opened our hearts, first to her, and then to the children to come after her. Imperfect as it is, that love has only increased and deepened through the years as we discover and continue to discover the person that God has created her to be.

 Happy Birthday, Oldest Daughter!


Pictoria said...

I don't recall hearing this detailed of a story. How beautiful to hear the story of your eldest's entrance into the world... I chuckled as you so aptly captured both of your "newlywed" personalities as labor began. And L is a wonderful blessing to you and the family!

jlt said...

What a wonderful story of her birth. Thank you for sharing. And Happy, Happy Birthday to Eldest Daughter.


Quotidian Life said...

Except that we were no longer newlyweds--we had been married five years! ;)

Lori said...

Yay for that story.

Laura A said...

Oh, five years is practically newlywed! Thanks for sharing this story. You were almost so polite you had Oldest Daughter at home.

And I do understand how you must miss the ones who are away now. You are allowed a bit of sentiment ;-).