A Few Charms (Banner)

A Few Charms (Banner)

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Two birthdays and three babies that narrowly escaped being born on Halloween

My parents married in 1963, and a little over a year later had a baby - me - on the way. Along with expecting a baby - now weeks overdue - my parents had just purchased a new home and the closing date was November 1st.

As luck would have it, Mom started labour in the wee hours of the morning of October 31st, and Dad rushed her to the hospital. But in the morning he had to go meet the movers because they would be taking possession of the new house.

As I've shared previously, my father was a photographer and he was booked to photograph a wedding that afternoon. (Who, by the way, gets married on Halloween?) By the time he needed to go to the wedding the movers had yet to arrive, so he had his nephew come and wait for the movers. In all the confusion he forgot to tell his nephew where the money was to pay the movers! His nephew called the hospital in a panic and finally convinced the nurse that he needed to speak to Mrs. Holmes, even if she was in labour! Mom was able to tell him which dresser drawer she'd left the money in. When I told my kids this story, I had to explain that we did not have cell phones 50 years ago. They asked, "If you didn't have cell phones, how could you send text messages?"
My father and mother - and me - December 1964
After the wedding shoot Dad came back to the hospital. Mom's labour still wasn't moving along very quickly so he decided to go check on things at the house. When he got to our street it was under construction; water mains were being put in. Of course, being Halloween night by this time, there had been pranksters afoot. Some kids had apparently rolled huge pipes into the road, essentially blocking the way for my father to reach the house. He tells the story that he had to roll them all out of the way just to get down the street.

Meanwhile my mother was at the hospital wondering why my father was so late returning. She'd been told she was going in for a C-section and was worried because she couldn't find my dad. Never in a million years would she have guessed he'd been busy rolling pipes!

At the same time, my mother's sister Edna was at a Halloween party; she was fourteen years younger than my mom and still in university at the time. She tells the story that she kept calling the hospital from the party, asking if Mrs Holmes had her baby yet, having to yell over the noise of the revellers. When she eventually got the answer that, "Yes Mrs Holmes FINALLY had her baby," she yelled to all her friends, "I'm an aunt!" And, I assume, continued to party, with even more reason to celebrate! I asked her this week to remind me of her version of this story, and the only thing she added was, "I was ecstatic!"

Aunt Edna, Mom, me, my Nana
When Dad finally arrived back at the hospital, he saw a nurse coming down the hall with a trolley full of stuff, which he presumed was laundry. She stopped him and said, "This is your baby! It's a girl!" He was pretty shocked because the last time he'd been there things were not progressing, and all of a sudden, here I was! When my mother tells this story she adds, "There was great jubilation!"

I am very relieved to say that by that time it was past midnight, and I was NOT born on All Hallow's Eve, but All Saints' Day instead - which had an added bonus. The investment company Scotia McLeod was celebrating an anniversary and had pledged to make a donation to the first baby born in November. And since I was delivered at just one minute past midnight, I was the first in the whole province - even had my picture in the paper! It was a bond that would come due when I was 18 for $1000. It was 1982; I bought a stereo system.

I'm sure I heard my birth story many times, and now that I have kids I realize that I had probably asked many times to hear the story of my birthday! And my kids enjoy hearing the story of their birthday, although their's starts a little before the delivery.

I've previously shared the story of getting pregnant and finding out we were having twins, and why I had to have a planned C-section after trying various ways to turn our stubborn daughter who was breech. The other part of their birth story was choosing their birth day!

close-up of the citrine Birthday Bloom charm
As my due date was approaching, the ob-gyn said he was going on holidays. We could decide if we wanted to wait until I went into labour and use whatever doctor was on call, or we could plan to have the C-section before he went on holidays. Mike thought it would be really cool for the kids to be born in different years; you know, one on December 31, 2001, and the other January 1, 2002. But given that it was October and I would be 38 weeks (considered full-term for twins) by Halloween, I really didn't think I could fulfill his wish! And why go through labour if we knew it would be a C-section anyway?

So the doctor looked at his calendar and said, "How about October 31st?" I said, "No, that's Halloween!" I had spent my childhood feeling that my birthday was always tied in with Halloween and didn't want that for my kids.

His second proposed date was November 1st. I said, "No, that's MY birthday!" "That would be cool," the doctor says, "to have your birthday on the same day as your kids!" I'm sure I looked gobsmacked! I said, "You are such a man! I would never have my OWN birthday again!" We finally settled on November 6, separated enough from my birthday, and yet still before the babies were due - and before the doctor left for vacation. It was very strange to be able to choose your child's - er, children's - birthday.

Mike, a little teary-eyed, holding Taylor with the pink ribbon
When we arrived at the hospital on the delivery day, and was prepped for surgery, the anesthesiologist introduced himself. He explained that he was going to have to put me under a general anesthetic so that he could get the babies out quickly before the drugs reached them. We were completely unprepared for this, as we (parents, midwife AND ob-gyn) were expecting the typical C-section where the mother was awake to receive her newborns. The ob-gyn explained that the anesthesiologist is the God of the operating room so we had no choice.

Unfortunately neither the midwife nor Mike could be in the operating room, but Mike peeked in the door and could see when baby 1 (Taylor) and baby 2 (Mitchell) were yanked out, one minute apart, and held up for him to see. I was in recovery of course afterwards but Mike and my mom were able to hold the babies in the nursery. Once I was awake, and lucid, the nurse wanted to put baby-to-breast. Not surprisingly, Taylor was not interested in any colostrum, and stubbornly waited for my milk to come in. Once they were both nursing - two babies at once in football hold - I was so proud of myself, I said, "Mike, I'm doing it! Take my picture!" That is one photo that will NOT be circulating on the internet!
My mother holding Mitchell with the blue ribbon

Mitchell in hospital

Taylor in hospital

The birthstone for November is citrine. So the birthday bloom charm with the citrine stone, on my Love Blooms Here bracelet represents the story of the day I was born, and the day I gave birth to my precious twins. Whenever I look at it, I know it will make me smile thinking of those special occasions, those "unforgettable moments" as Pandora calls them. 

Photo taken in September 2014; they are now 13 as of November 6

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