It was 38 years ago this weekend that I was born. At least I think it is 38. I seem to be forgetting how old I am a lot lately and then have to do the math when someone asks. 20?? - 1973 is not easy math. It involves borrowing numbers.
So 38 years ago this weekend, my mom was anxiously awaiting my arrival. I was already three weeks late. At one point in the pregnancy, I guess I thought I would try to come out early. The doctors were not keen on that and after some medication and rest, I decided to stay put for the duration of my mom's pregnancy. Maybe I was so offended by not being let out early that I decided to make them wait instead.
My mom had spent the day walking around the zoo with my older brother and family friends. She was really tired by the end of the day so when she woke up feeling like she had to go to the bathroom she did not recognize those as labor pains. (Funny enough with my second son, I also kept getting up to use the bathroom every 10 - 15 minutes all night long unaware that those were labor pains. It took my water breaking to get me out the door.) Thankfully my mom's friend was more aware and took her to the hospital where I was born. All 6 pounds 10 ounces of me. At three weeks late. I am thinking the math might have been off on that one because my brother was 9+ pounds. Little babies do not run in our family as I found out with my boys.
My dad was not there. He was at a conference, a plane ride away. I was already 3 weeks late and my mother insisted that he go on the trip because I didn't seem to be planning on making my entrance any time soon. So my dad went. It turns out it was not a big deal because back in those days, the dark ages, dads were not in the delivery room anyway. My dad instead saw a note tacked to a bulletin board at the conference letting him know his baby girl had been born.
All I know from my early years are the stories I have been told and the pictures I have seen. I remember seeing a picture of my brother feeding me a bottle while I am in a bassinet or infant seat of some kind. It is not the usual picture of the big brother holding his baby sister in his arms all precious even though you know there is an adult standing off to the side all nervous that the big sibling might drop the baby.
I am not sure what my brother thought of me. He was almost 4 when I was born. Old enough to know that there is a new center of attention in the house, at least for a while. Old enough to know that the baby is fragile and makes weird sounds. One morning I was crying and my older brother did what he saw my mother do countless times when I was crying. He picked me up and put me on the changing table. He then went back to watch cartoons. I, of course, fell off the changing table. Thankfully I turned out to be somewhat bright and literate or this story would not seem funny. At least it seemed funny until I started having babies.
Now when I look back at that story, I wonder where my parents were that my brother had enough time to hear me cry and be bothered enough to respond. He was watching cartoons so I can only imagine he was not jumping up quickly to deal with the baby crying. I don't know if he tried to get one of our parents first or if he just thought that he could solve the problem just like Mommy did. I do know that times were different and that my generation of moms have been trained to be uber-safety conscious. Also I know I was not the first or last baby to fall off a changing table.
As I started having babies more details came out about how my parents managed the stresses of having a new baby around. I was mentioning something about having a hard time sleeping with the baby monitor next to my bed because I heard every noise and turn Hockey Boy made. My mom mentioned something about putting one of us kids, not sure which, in the basement so my dad could sleep.
It is interesting what we choose to tell kids about their birth stories and about them as infants. I have been fascinated hearing the stories my mom told change as I became a new mom. The words of advice and attempts at comfort brought out stories that surprised me but also explained a lot of my childhood family's dynamics.
When Middle Man came along, my mom was trying to help me navigate the whole sibling thing. She joked about telling my older brother, who was 4 mind you, that babies can be annoying. Like they were in it together against this annoying baby who cried and fussed and got in the way. She would then get up and play with me in the middle of the night so my older brother wouldn't get jealous. I have always thought of myself as annoying to my big brother. I have always felt like I needed to take whatever attention and time he gave me and then leave him alone and not be a pest. I have always felt like he really doesn't want to be with me but thinks I am annoying. Turns out those were not his words.
I don't want my kids to see each other as competition for my attention. I want them to know they are all wonderful parts of our family and that we are all better because of each other. When Middle Man came along Hockey Boy was only 15 months old. He was pretty unphased by the whole new baby thing. But when Little One came along both the boys were not sure they wanted to share my time with this new baby. Instead of hiding my love for the new baby, we took some time to show the older boys pictures and videos of me cuddling and feeding each of them. We talked about how we took care of each of them in the exact same way. Babies may need extra attention but each of them had their turn as the baby.
I don't think I have any memories of my own until I was 3 or 4 and living in southern California. I have heard the story of leaving the east coast on my 1st birthday, heading west. We lived in Denver at one point, Fresno and I think a stint in San Diego where all my grandparents lived before finally settling down for a bit in Simi Valley, California. That is where my first memories take place.