A daughter is the happy memories of the past, the joyful moments of the present, and the hope and promise of the future. ~ Author Unknown
Our youngest daughter Eve celebrated her birthday Saturday. Although we know our three kids (and that is what they will always be to me) are now grown women, real functioning adults, didn’t we just bring our youngest home from the hospital? Over coffee Saturday morning, I recalled and shared with Eve different details surrounding her arrival. Everyone likes to hear her story. It’s natural to be curious about how your advent impacted the family. It’s an oral history that needs to be told more than once. It helps us understand who we are and where we fit.
It had been a lovely spring in 1990, and the middle of April approached and passed. My due date was April 15, yet each day after ticked slowly by with no sign of impending labor. A year earlier, if someone had told Tim and me that we would be expecting our third daughter the next spring, we would have been more than a little surprised. We had discussed the number of children we wanted, and as we neared the age of 35, had pretty much decided that two would do it. Our toddler of the moment, Ellen, was a handful, and we couldn’t imagine introducing another character to our daily lives that already rocketed along with the tempo, timing and pratfalls of an old slapstick movie.
We hadn’t been laughing for long, however. We had just come through the most frightening and horrific time period in our lives, almost losing Ellen at the age of 20 months due to an accident. She eventually recovered, but the experience left us emotionally exhausted. Family planning had temporarily been pushed to the side.
It was shortly after Ellen had finally become her old self when, one evening after dinner the family was relaxing in the living room. She bounced energetically into my lap, hitting her head on my chest. I yelped in pain.
“Wow!” I said, “That really hurt!”
Tim looked up and said jokingly, “You’re not pregnant are you?”
I laughed, because it had taken us a couple years of infertility treatment, during which time I had experienced an early miscarriage, to conceive Ellen.
“I couldn’t be . . .” I started to say, while rapidly performing some mental calculations. But, I stopped and fled to our bedroom so I could call my youngest sister who had just announced that she was expecting.
“Hey, do you have any pregnancy tests?” I whispered. This was back when stores closed by 5:30 p.m., and I really didn’t want to wait until morning for the answer to this question.
Chuckling evilly, she arrived in record time with the test in hand.
I didn’t wait for morning to take it.
It was positive.
Although there had been times in our lives when we wondered if we would ever have the joy of bringing a baby home, this time the news threw me into a bit of a panic. We were not at our strongest, were still dealing with the occasional aftershocks of post-traumatic stress from the accident. I seriously wondered if I could handle three kids. I made an appointment with the OB/Gyn.
“Never have more kids than there are parents,” the doctor sagely advised. He had three kids.
So, time went by, the nausea came and left (for the most part), and the baby grew . . . and grew. Historically, I didn’t have little babies. Our oldest, Elizabeth, came into the world at 8 pounds, 1 ounce. Ellen followed at 8 pounds, 5 ounces. It was obvious that this baby was going to easily pass them by. As we prepared a nursery once again, we also realized that this baby had gently led us to look to the future; to turn away from the bad time and leave it behind us. We knew then, and we’ve told her many times since, she was not a mistake, she was a wonderful surprise.
Very late in the pregnancy it appeared the baby had every intention of remaining stretched across my abdomen horizontally, so an ultrasound was performed. Fortunately, a few days later, she repositioned on her own. And although we really didn’t need or want to know the sex of the baby, it was pretty obvious during the ultrasound that she was girl. Three girls – and we didn’t care a bit. Our lives were already a swirl of pink and purple sparkles, dress-up clothes, rainbows, butterflies and fairies. We were ready.
The girls were born each in a different season. Our first, Katherine, was stillborn in autumn. Elizabeth arrived in foggy February. Ellen was a summer baby, born during an August heatwave. Unlike her sisters, whose entries into the world commenced with a dramatic breaking of waters, at the end of soft and balmy evening, Eve announced her impending arrival gently, with a mild contraction. On the morning of her birth, we walked the hospital halls while robins deliriously chirped and chortled in the April predawn. By mid-morning she was born, weighing 9 pounds, 11½ ounces. As I have said before, she may have been last, but she was not least.
Like her dad, she is a fair haired, blue-eyed child of spring. As for her personality, she is quiet and reserved around others, within the confines of her family she is talkative, bossy and funny. She loves fiercely and loyally. She is like me in that she is exacting, organized, and has high expectations that begin with herself. Unlike me, she is graceful and soft of speech. Also unlike me, her anger is not so much like a blustery summer thunderstorm than a wintry cold spell.
Like the seasons, our three girls are so different from each other, yet are bound with sisterly tethers. Like Tim and I, each has her strengths and weaknesses, talents and burdens. Now we watch and love while each writes and tells her own story