On September 14, 1997, I went to bed a little earlier than usual. After an amazing all-you-can-eat brunch at our yacht club, I was feeling stuffed, a little bloaty, kind of crampy. At just about midnight, I went to the bathroom, then returned to wake my husband.
"Um, I think my water just broke."
We called the obstetrician's office; the doctor on duty was in delivery, but would call us back. Finally, at about 2:00 am, they told us to head to the hospital. I was checked in and examined. The nurse reassured me that nothing was going to happen for a while and suggested we get some rest.
Riiiiight. Like that was gonna happen.
My husband, in the recliner next to my bed, drifted off almost immediately. Meanwhile, I stressed out. (Then again, why should the single most important night of our lives be different than any other night?) I stayed awake and my contractions got closer together — gradually. A little too gradually it turned out. As soon as a doctor arrived, they put me on Pitocin (invented, I am absolutely certain by the biggest woman-hating man who ever lived) so that my labor would be "more productive." Over the next several hours, we tried other things: walks along the maternity ward corridor, warm showers, the dreaded birthing ball. I watched TV for a while. On the midday news I learned that the FDA was taking one of my client's products, a weight loss drug called Fen-Phen, off the market (so much for the commercial we were about to shoot). I also watched back-to-back-to-back episodes of "Mad About You."
Funny, I've never been able to sit through that show again.
Anyway, things finally progressed as they were supposed to; the doctor returned; I pushed and ... Voila! "You have a daughter!" It was 3:49 pm, September 15, 1997. I was a mother.
This morning, my daughter and I watched her birthday sunrise together, as we have every year since she was maybe three years old. This time, her dad joined us, along with the new puppy. There's no school today (Rosh Hashanah), so as soon as our little ritual was over, the now-legal adult went back to bed.
I'm left here thinking about the past eighteen years. They've gone by quickly, yet we packed a lot into them. Birthday parties and vacations, homework and horse shows, lazy mornings, busy weekends. And laundry. There's been a lot of laundry.
This year, we're time-shifting the actual celebration. At 3:49 (my daughter's a stickler for detail), she'll mark the anniversary of her birth on her trusty steed. From the stable, she and her BFF are driving to Providence for a concert. By the time they return, it will be after midnight and her birthday will technically be over. I'm trying not to focus on two teens driving after hours on Route 95. Instead, I'm going to think about what a happy day she's having.
My daughter is eighteen. She can vote, she can enlist in the army, she can buy cigarettes, work full-time, live on her own. But, she's safe asleep upstairs right now. We've done a good job. We've made a good person.
I've always loved her a lot. Now, it's time to let go a little.
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