Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Jill's Birthday

My 40 Words a Day blog is winding down...only 26 more entries to go! I can see it's time to pay some attention to Sweet Rocket. I'll need something to do when Forty Thieves is finished. :-)

It's the day after Christmas...Jill's birthday. She loved having her birthday on December 26. She said everyone else was finished with their gifts, and then she got more! We didn't have a lot of birthday parties for her, as it was hard to pry people out of their houses and often the weather wasn't the best. But I always summoned the energy to bake a birthday cake, and we all felt festive on her special day.

I went into labor Christmas night, 1975. I had fallen into bed, completely exhausted, at 10:00 p.m. after cooking a standing rib roast and Yorkshire pudding...and then eating it. And of course cleaning everything up. My baby was due January 7, so I figured it was okay to knock myself out as I'd have two weeks with nothing to do but sit and rock and wait. Wrong! My water broke at midnight.

My knees knocked. A blizzard raged outside. The hospital was an hour away. This was in the days before SUVs and 4x4's. My husband drove a big, rear-wheel-drive Cadillac. As always, I had the utmost confidence in his ability, and, as always, he came through for me. We made it to the hospital just fine, and Gillian Campbell Jaffer was born at 8:27 a.m. the day after Christmas. (Her sister, Suzanne, had been born at 8:27 p.m. on Labor Day.)

The doctor missed the delivery, which was okay. What was not so great was that he told me my labor had hours to go. This was not welcome news! He got a little short with me about it, and stalked off to perform surgery. Jill was born minutes later. Joe sat on the bed and I pushed her out into his hands. After her arms were free I caught her hands in mine and smiled at my crying baby, still half inside me. The nurse said, "Why don't you lift her out yourself?" She said I should just hold her under her arms and lift her out. So I did.

When the doctor came back, I was sitting up taking pictures of Joe and our new daughter. The doctor said, "I waited a long time for this generation of women." Joe said later that he thought this remark was said in apology for his curtness with me earlier. Perhaps. He was a good man, and offered family-centered, homelike birth experiences at a time when most other physicians were still practicing the knock-'em-out-and-drag-'em-out method of childbirth.

My baby. She grew up to have so much creativity and sensitivity, so much grace, so much humor. Her birth announcement was prophetic. I wrote, "The world's wolves, cats, butterflies, dogs, whales, rabbits, and squirrels announce the arrival of a new friend."

Happy Birthday in heaven, Jilly.