The travels, experience and work of a media manager who is blessed to be working in many countries around the world where she meets interesting people and has once in a lifetime incredible experiences.
NOTE: This is a story written by my daughter, Kristin. This story was read on Alex's birthday until the last couple of years. This first year of his not being with us on his birthday, reminded me of our traditions. And so...here is Kristin's version of Alex's birth and entry into our certifiably insane family. We laugh and love with vigor.
As we sit around the fir tree,
reading the traditional, “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” I look around at my
family with wonder.All of them bring to
mind special feelings. My mother, who has been through several surgeries in the
past few months, is smiling and sipping a small glass of white wine. My
stepfather, Richard, still fairly new to the family after a mere 11 years of
marriage to my mother, is oblivious to the goings on and is watching whatever
sports program happens to be on at the moment. My sister, Heidi, her red hair
flying, is chasing her two children around the room, trying to get them to
listen to the story. And, my brother, Alex 10 years old, just a few days
earlier, is listening intently as I finish the book that has been a staple for
our Christmas Eves since I was a little girl. Alex has always held a special place
in my heart and as I look at him this Christmas Eve night, I am in awe at the
impact he has had on my life since even before he was born.
If I remember correctly, my Mom
told us she was going to try and have another baby on a Thursday afternoon. I
had come over to visit after work and Heidi had just gotten home from school.
We were sitting in the kitchen drinking a pop and she blurted it out like she
had been holding this decision inside for weeks.
“Girls, Richard and I have been
thinking a lot about this and we have decided that we are going to pursue
having another child.”
“You are kidding, right?” I said.
“No, I’m not. I’ve talked to a few
doctors at the University of Michigan and it is possible to have my tubes
untied so we can try and conceive a baby.”
cannot believe this,” said Heidi. “I’m probably going to end up babysitting
this kid all the time.” She was 16 at the time and not too sensitive about
other people’s feelings.
Mom didn’t get upset about that comment, but just continued with her
explanation of how the surgery was going to work. “The doctors have to do an
ultrasound first. Then, they will determine whether or not they can even
reconnect my tubes. If they do the surgery, there is only a 25% chance that it
will work. So, don’t get upset about anything, yet, OK?”
I am the worry wart in the family,
so I had to ask, “Are you sure this is safe? You are 38 years old.”
“Well, it is fairly safe. You know,
there’s always a risk when it comes to surgery. But, I don’t think it is going
to be a very big deal. I just won’t be able to do anything really strenuous for
a couple of weeks.”
My mother did end up having the
surgery. She was right. She didn’t move around much for a few weeks, but she
did go right back to work. She did eventually start feeling better, though. In
mid-April, which, if we didn’t live in Michigan, should be about the time the
trees are budding and the flowers blooming, my mother asked me to go to with
her to Meijer, a huge Walmart like store. I agreed. The day didn’t seem any
different than any other, but that soon changed.
We were walking through the Health
& Beauty Aid section when my mother said, “Maybe we should pick up a test.”
“What kind of....oh my God!!!!” I
screamed and gave my mother a hug. “I thought you were supposed to wait a few
more weeks before you started trying to conceive?”
“I was feeling pretty good, so we
tried a couple of weeks ago. And, now I need a pregnancy test, OK?”
“I can’t believe it. I thought
there was a really small chance that this would work,” I said.
“It’s not positive yet,” my Mom
We got to the checkout lane and my
mother started acting strange. “What is wrong, Mom?” “Could you buy the test?
No one will believe it is for me anyway?”
I bought the test and we went to my
mother’s house in Laingsburg. She took the test and it was positive. I joked,
“Fertile Myrtle can only get pregnant one month out of the entire year!!! And
you did it three times!!” My sister and I were January babies and it was apparent,
by our calculations, this baby would be
born in January also.
My mother’s pregnancy went fairly
smooth until her fourth or fifth month. She did have some strange cravings,
though. I don’t think I had ever seen my mother eat peanut butter in my entire
19 years, but when she was pregnant, she couldn’t get enough of the stuff. My
stepfather started shopping at Sam’s Wholesale Club because he couldn’t keep
enough peanut butter in the house. Upon reaching the beginning of her second
trimester, she started having trouble. She had amniocentesis since she was over
35 and had a whole bunch of other tests to determine if the baby was healthy or
not. I was at work when my mother called me into her office (she was my boss at
The Lansing State Journal) to let me know the results of her testing. My mother
was being very calm and it scared me.
“Mom? What’s wrong? Is something
wrong with the baby?”
She said, “The doctors think the
baby has ‘water on the brain.’”
“What does that mean?” I asked.
“That means the baby could have
brain damage. Things started going wrong when I had the amnio. The puncture hole
that the doctor made with the needle never closed up; so, amniotic fluid has
been leaking for the past few weeks.”
“Is the baby going to die?” I asked
as tears were flowing down my face.
“They don’t know yet. They are
going to do more tests and we should know something by the end of the week.
But, honey, there is something else you need to know.”
“We are having a boy.”
At that point, we both burst into
tears. No one in the family had ever wanted a baby boy. Girls are so much cuter
and prettier and you can dress them up in frilly little dresses. We cried for
about ten minutes and as we were holding each other, we started laughing. Little
giggles at first. Followed by some tittering and, then, out loud laughs
punctured by guffaws. We couldn’t stop. We went from one extreme of emotions to
another in 30 seconds flat. At that moment, we both knew that everything would
be OK, even if the baby did turn out to be a boy.
Everything did end up being OK. My
mother was prescribed complete bed rest by her doctor for the remaining four
months. This was unbelievably difficult for my mother because she is a
workaholic and a perfectionist rolled into one mere mortal. She became more
domestic than I had ever seen before. She baked, did crafts, prepared the
baby’s room and did a multitude of other things that were not typical of her
personality. Oh, she still went to work every day!!
I had just received a promotion at
work and was starting my first day on my new job. As I was walking into the
building from the extremely icy parking lot, my previous supervisor stopped me
and told me that my mother had gone into labor. This was quite a shock
considering that she was not due for another month yet. I felt like pending
fatherhood was upon me. I became a babbling, klutzy, frantic person that
neither I nor my co-workers recognized.
“What do you mean she is in labor?”
“Calm down, Kristin. Your Mom
called and all she said was that we needed to let you know that her water had
broke and for you to go to work and she would call when anything more
happened.” What mom hadn’t told anyone was that her water broke at work and her
boss was crazy worried.
“Krstin, I told you all that she
told me, “said my colleague. “You know your mother. She will let you know what
is going on when it suits her needs.”
Knowing exactly what my co-worker
meant, I decided I had better go to work, considering it is not a good practice
to call in sick on your first day. I told my boss that I may have to leave,
depending on what was happening at home. They understood, which I was very
grateful for, because my mother had been working at her current job for the
past seven years and everyone knew her.
I called my sister, Heidi, at
approximately noon to find out what the status on the baby’s arrival was
currently. “Hi, Heidi. How is mom?”
“She is fine. She is at Meijer
right now. Why?”
“Why?! Because she is in labor, that is why!!”
Heidi then told me the most amazing
thing I’ve ever heard. “That’s not even the worst of it, Kristin. This morning
at 7 a.m. she called Richard and told him that her water had broken. Richard
started freaking out and wanted to call the doctor. She told him she had some
things to do because Christmas wasn’t going to not come just because she was
having a kid.”
“What did she mean by that?” I
“She meant that she needed to get
some last minute Christmas gifts and then, she needed to finish the grocery
shopping for Christmas dinner.”
“She IS nuts, isn’t she?”
“That’s not even the worst of it,”
said Heidi. “I asked her how she thought she was going to get around with
having contractions and all, and she said, “No problem, you’re going to help
me.’ Kristin, Mom made me help her get ready and drive her to the mall.”
I started laughing hysterically.
“You mean, Mom was walking around the mall having contractions?!”
“Stop laughing at me!! She was so
embarrassing. We would walk about 20 feet and then, she would have to stop so
she could ‘do her breathing.’ People kept coming up to us and asking if there
was anything they could do to help. I was mortified!”
“I feel so bad for you, Heidi. How
long were you at the mall?”
“Thank God, we were only there for
about an hour and a half. Then, she wanted to go to Meijer, but I told her she
better have Richard go with her. Richard came to the mall to pick her up and he
found her sitting inside the doors, on the floor, breathing deeply.”
“Well, I have to go back to work,
but let me know if anything happens.”
I ended up working a full day. No
one ever called me to tell me how my mom was doing. At 5:30 p.m., as I was
getting home, the phone began ringing. I grabbed the phone and it was my
mother, acting very calm, almost too calm.
“Hi, honey. How was your first day
“Fine.Why aren’t you at the hospital yet?” I
My mother very calmly said, “I’ve
had two other kids and this one is not going to mess up my Christmas schedule
any more than he already has. I had shopping to do and now, it is done. I was
calling to let you know I am on my way to the hospital right now.”
My mother and stepfather arrived at
the hospital around 6 p.m. My best friend, Amy and I arrived shortly thereafter.
My mom acted as if she was there for some allergy shots. This was not a big
deal to her…just another birth, kind of at an inconvenient time and day.
We waited, talked and visited with
my mom for about three and a half hours. Then, Amy and I decided to go to the
cafeteria to get some food. As we were walking down the starkly lit hallway in
the basement, a wonderful location for a cafeteria, we were discussing the
wonder of my mother at 39 giving birth. We were giggling about all the things I
could buy for him and do with him, when all of a sudden, a huge figure jumped
out in front of us. It was my stepfather, Richard, all out of breath and
looking extremely frantic.
“Your mother....wants....you to
“Why? Is something wrong?”
“No. You know how we had decided
that it would just be us in the delivery room? Well, your mother has decided
just now that it would be a wonderful experience for you to see your brother’s
“Wow! OK, let’s go!”
Amy said she would wait in the
waiting room, but Richard, who is not a very outgoing fellow, told her to come
along also. He said one more person in the room at this point wasn’t going to
make much of a difference and besides, Amy was planning to be a nurse.
We all followed Richard into the
delivery room, where, just as we walked in, I saw my brother’s head emerging
from my mother’s body. I gasped.
“Oh my God! Oh my God! OH!”
“Shut up, Kristin, I’m trying to
concentrate,” came my mother’s response to my wonder and awe.
My mother pushed for about 10
minutes and at 10:08 p.m. my baby brother, weighing 4 lbs. 15 oz., was born on
December 22, 1989. He was very little. In fact, he was too little to take home.
My mother came home on the 23rd
in the late afternoon. It was kind of weird talking about Alex and not having
him there to hold or coo over. We had a surprise on Christmas Eve, though. Mom
had gone to the hospital to see Alex and the doctor said he had gained enough
ground to go home. Imagine our surprise when my mom walked into the house
carrying Alex in her arms. We all started crying and hugging and thanking God
for letting us all be together on this special holiday.
So, as I sit here looking around at
my whole family, I have to thank my brother. Before Alex, we were a family, but
we didn’t have cohesion. My mom, sister and I were a family and Richard was an
addition that Heidi and I could have done without.After Alex, however, is a whole different
story. He has allowed our family to become a unit. He is my half brother biologically,
but emotionally, he is my whole brother: heart and soul.Although he is only 10 as I write this and my
little brother, he is also my friend, confidante and spiritual advisor. I don’t
even think he knows how pivotal he has been to our family.Maybe someone should tell him.