Giving Them Wings

By Pam Henderson

I’m feeling kind of melancholy these days as one of my daughters nears another milestone birthday. The feeling hit over the weekend while we were out to lunch, and “Surfin’ USA” came on the radio. You know the song – the catchy Beach Boys tune that makes it feel like summer even when it’s 12 degrees with 25 inches of snow on the ground. That song will always remind Rick and me of her.

At 42 weeks of pregnancy, my obstetrician decided to give nature a little nudge. I was healthy and it was a great pregnancy, but babies aren’t meant to live in their mommy’s belly forever. And, I was already as round as I was tall. Just a few days before, a stranger in a restaurant asked me when I was due. Imagine his surprise when I replied, “10 days ago”.

We arrived at the hospital at the crack of dawn, knowing that by the end of the day, we would have a baby of our own. After a routine medical procedure, Rick and I walked around the hospital for two hours in an effort to trigger labor. Still, no baby (but it was fun to get curious looks from hospital guests).

Next order of business was a dose of the labor-inducing drug Pitocin. Still, no baby. More Pitocin. No baby. The doctor finally agreed to let me suck on Lifesavers since I hadn’t eaten in 18 hours. More Pitocin. No baby. The minutes turned into hours and then more hours. Finally, the doctor relented to give me a cup of broth. It’s funny that when you can’t eat, you notice that every commercial is about food. My favorite was a commercial for a burger. The voice said something like, “These days, people will put anything on a burger.” At that moment, you see a hand spraying the bun with whipped cream. Oh how I wanted to bite into that burger with whipped cream on top!

The day turned into night. Still, no baby. We were so wrong – there wouldn’t be a baby for us on that day.

When my physician decided that everything possible had been done to prompt a natural delivery, he decided that a C-section was our only option. I wasn’t disappointed or concerned. After all, I only wanted a happy, healthy baby.

The surgery was actually quite the calming experience. The physician, anesthesiologist and nurses worked together like a well-oiled machine. It was obvious that this wasn’t their first Caesarean delivery. As “Hit the Road, Jack” was playing overhead on the radio, the medical staff was predicting that this stubborn baby was a boy. I never relented – mother’s instinct told me the baby was a girl.

More than 27 hours after arriving at the hospital, our little girl was born, to the sound of the Beach Boys, “Surfin’ USA”. When we first met her, she yawned and yawned. It must’ve taken a lot of energy to resist being born. It made sense that she didn’t want to come out into the world – she was warm, well-fed and her every need was met. She could sleep, eat and play without being poked and prodded. I joke today that she would still be in there if they hadn’t taken her.

Rick read every parenting magazine religiously. Yet, we were naïve in thinking that we could get by without a pacifier. Both of us survived babyhood without one, and we thought our baby would do the same. One afternoon, our little girl decided to show us her lungs and Rick couldn’t get to the hospital gift store soon enough. He would have gladly paid $100 for a pacifier, but we were fortunate that it was only $8.00.

Despite two decades having now passed since her birth, Rick and I remember every detail of that day as if it were yesterday. With all of those memories still fresh in our minds, it hardly seems possible that this milestone day could be upon us. Could she really be a college sophomore, who drives and works and knows how to write papers and speak French? In my mind, she should still be wearing bows in her pigtails and playing with dolls and falling asleep on our lap.

I know that our Creator blesses us with babies so that we can give them wings. But, I thought when that time came, I would be ready; that it would feel like time. Maybe when the momma robin pushes her baby out of the nest, she doesn’t really want her baby to go. But, she does it because she knows that her nest can no longer hold her grown-up baby. At least we get to keep our babies close to us for 18 years. A momma robin only gets to keep her babies for 13 days.