June 28th, 2002 didn't start like any other day. It started slowly. I was slow. 9 months pregnant but still 8 days from my due date in an apartment with no air conditioning made for a slow....everything.
Plus, it was the morning of my 22nd birthday.
And it was the morning of my brother's 12th birthday.
So obviously, of all the days of the entire year for my second baby to be born, today was NOT going to be the day, and for that reason I was bummed. And tired. And I just didn't feel right.
I called in sick to work. They sounded relieved. My job involved a lot of running around and trudging up and down stairs and not an hour had gone by in the last few weeks that someone didn't suggest that perhaps I should avoid going into labor right there in front of all the customers. Because, you know, I am in control of that sort of thing.
At the time, my dear husband was working a 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. shift, which was quite lucky because when he got home at 2 p.m. and said "Happy birthday and why are you here?" and I said "I just feel weird. I don't know..." then he could say "Oh. Okay. Well, we need to return that rental truck." Which we did. Him in the truck, me in our Plymouth Neon with a standard transmission. And every time I would push in on the clutch, I would get a little trembley. I just felt...weird.
But we returned the truck without any real incident and on the way back to the apartment I finally said "You know, I think today might be baby day." Which made him laugh because of course there is no WAY that today was baby day because um, hello? It was already my birthday AND my brother's birthday. So really, it was an impossibility. Just no way.
But apparently there was a way because less than two hours later we found ourselves in rush hour traffic on I-5 on a Friday afternoon in southern California en route to the the hospital. If you have been in labor in a vehicle during rush hour on I-5 in southern California, then you will understand me when I tell you that I started to panic just a little. Even in my enormous state, I felt that surely I could walk more quickly than our car was moving at the time.
We arrive. We check in. Non-stop comments about the fact that it's my birthday, as if perhaps I had not appreciated this fact as of yet. I tried to keep a smile on my face, but you know...I was about to have a baby and all, so my ability to accommodate the commentary of strangers was, not surprisingly, waning.
And there was a flurry of activity and I shed a few tears and suddenly, there she was! In my arms, a real baby, my baby, who had decided to be my very best birthday present ever. It was just after 7 p.m.
Now you are nine years old. You are so smart and funny. Creative and artistic. An amazing cook and a fantastic big sister. You do have a sassy streak, a hand-on-the-hip-cock-my-head-to-the-side-and-channel-my-inner-valley-girl streak, but your kind heart somehow makes it charming. Usually.
You are such a silly goofball. You tell hilarious jokes. Your belly laugh that makes you fall out of your chair when you're imagining something hilarious is absolutely priceless. I love your beautiful imagination.
Sure, your room is a pig pen and you put clean laundry in the hamper all the time. You scarf down the last of the ice cream. You ask me 7 times a day if you'll ever have a horse. I tell you to clean it and to quit it and to stop and that I really don't know but if you ask me again the answer will be 'no' for sure.
But I also tell you that I love you and I'm so lucky to know you and that whoever is going to go to college with you has no idea how lucky they are about to be in a few short years.
Happy birthday, my little bug! You are the best birthday present any mom could ever hope for.