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Baby Rosie, fall 1991

Grown up Rosie moves into her dorm room, summer 2010.

“Honey?” I shook my husband’s snoring form beside me. “Tim! I think this is it!”

“Huh?” He slurred in a voice thick with sleep, “Are you sure?”

“They’re real contractions, and they’re about five minutes apart. They hurt! Maybe we should call the midwives.”

The glowing numbers on the bedside clock read 4:30, Tim reached over and patted my belly briefly. “Okay honey, but you know what they said. This is gonna go on for a while. Try to sleep a little. We shouldn’t wake them up yet.” And he rolled over, stuck the pillow over his head and was snoring again within seconds.

I lay there watching the glowing numbers  turn over, feeling my stomach harden in a perfectly timed and ancient rhythm. My attempts at dozing between contractions were more like mini-meditations or pep talks to myself. I can handle the pain, these aren’t contractions, they’re ‘rushes,’ I can handle this.

By 6, I’d finally convinced Tim that labor was advancing and we should call Jan and Barbara, our midwife team. As I knelt on the living room floor trying hard to remember breathing techniques, he also put in calls in to my sister Lisa and our good friend Celine.  Celine promised to pick up 7-year-old Ciel who had spent the night at her Dad’s. We were having a party for this birth! Three midwives, a sister, a friend and my daughter.

Since he had no reason to suspect that this labor would not follow a normal time frame, Tim began mixing up batter for some morning pancakes.

I stared at the busy carpet pattern on the living room floor, moaning and waiting for each contraction to subside.

“Ohhh no! I don’t know if I can take it this time. This is too intense. If it’s this bad this early in I might have to take drugs!”

I was kidding – I hoped. I was committed to a natural home birth. But as the contractions ripped through me at an ever-increasing pace I began to worry. How would I manage to tolerate hours and hours of this?

“Where are they?” I wailed, as Tim calmly sat down at the kitchen table and buttered his pancakes.

Two more contractions ripped through me before the door swung open and Jan and Barbara burst in.

“Sorry! We got stuck behind the cows!” Jan exclaimed.

Our rented farmhouse was surrounded by acres of cow pastures tended by local dairy farmers. On occasion they moved crowds of the ambling animals from one field to another along the narrow road, causing traffic to back up behind the queue of cattle. Drivers would be forced to follow along at a snail’s – er, cow’s – pace for upwards of 15 minutes.

Barbara rushed over and knelt beside me. I hadn’t left my position of balancing my hands and knees on the living room floor, it seemed like the only way I could ride through the contractions.

She gently rubbed my back, “How are you doing?”

“Ummm, I’m not sure. I can’t believe it’s already this intense,” my groan increased in pitch as another contraction seized me.

“Another one already? Maybe we’d better move into the bedroom,” said Barbara.

Minutes after being helped over to the bedroom by Jan and Barbara, events slipped into a fast-moving blur as the midwives kicked into action.

“Tim! You’re needed!” they called.

I was already “in transition,” meaning about to deliver. The midwives had made it just in time!

As tool and equipment were quickly set up, I saw Celine step into the room holding a wide-eyed Ciel on her hip. I waved weakly.

“Slowly, slowly! Don’t push!” they commanded me.

But this baby wasn’t waiting. She slipped into Tim’s arms at 8:30 a.m., just four hours after I’d shaken him awake.

Can two decades really have passed this fast??

Today Rosie celebrates her 20th birthday. She is officially out of teen-dom and I guess what we call a “young adult.”

I guess that might mean I am officially an old lady.

I’d waited so impatiently as she grew inside me. Maybe the baby will be early, I thought on St. Patrick’s Day. I’m certainly big enough! But no, Rosie just continued to swell my belly until, by the night before the due date, April 3rd, I realized that she might even make a late arrival. Determined not to stay pregnant for another couple of weeks or even days, I consulted a few of my favorite pregnancy books and decided to follow several recommendations for bringing on baby.

This included taking a long walk – an easy thing to do on that Tuesday evening, as the day had been unusually warm and nearby Mad River Beach beckoned us with a spectacular springtime sunset. The walk was to be followed by a spicy meal (pizza) accompanied by a beer. Then, when the parents-to-be retired to bed they were instructed to enjoy some pleasurable activity without having to worry about making more babies (since that would be impossible at this time.) Needless to say, Tim happily agreed to this suggested program.

The prescription worked like the proverbial charm. By 4:30 a.m. Rosie was knocking hard. Ready to get out.

So to this day I recommend this program to impatient pregnant mommies at or past their due date. Noninvasive, nontoxic, and best of all – fun!

After being pushed out so fast, poor Rosie’s head was molded to a point. Her copious black infant hair, matted with blood and fluids accentuated the effect. Maybe I’d neglected to warn Ciel that babies don’t come out looking all cuddly and cute – or maybe it was the shock.

“It’s a monster!” Ciel cried out as the baby was held up and uttered her first cry.

I’m happy to report that her confused outcry did not seem to have any sort of lasting effect. Rosie quickly became Ciel’s most cherished doll baby. She eagerly assisted with holding, burping and diaper changing. As they grew older, Ciel and her friends took great pleasure in dressing Rosie up in an assortment of costumes, and practicing their makeup techniques on her smooth toddler cheeks.

Ciel and Rosie, 1991

In fact, it took until Rosie was nearly 18 for Ciel to fully assimilate that she didn’t have a “baby” sister anymore.

Now, much to Mom’s delight, the two are best friends even while living on opposite coasts.

Ciel hugs her sister at Rosie's high school graduation, June 2009

So a big, big happy birthday wish to my last baby!! Your whole life lies before you.

For a birthday blessing, here is one of my favorite quotes, I’ve finally tracked down the exact words:

“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.”
— William W. Purkey