My second oldest daughter turns 22 today, and her story is quite likely the most dramatic of all my children.
Just 21 myself, a young wife with a 3 year old at home, Jennifer came much sooner than she was supposed to. What I didn't know until I was about 6 months along, was that I had what they called placenta previa ( had never heard of it, prior to that day). A routine ultrasound spotted it, and the doctor was optimistic of the possibility of it correcting itself before the due date. I was due on Mother's Day that year, and couldn't think of a better day in the whole year, to have a baby.
Not long after the ultrasound detected the problem, the real problems began. Twice I suffered massive bleeding and early labor, and twice admitted to the hospital and put on medications to stop labor. It was too early for her to arrive. After I was released from the hospital the second time, I was put on strict bed-rest for 10 days. Have you ever tried to stay in bed when you have a 3 year old in the house? Especially a 3 year old who was described by my then father in law as a "child with a very scientific mind". That was his way of admitting that she loved to get into things, take them apart and see how they worked, and ask more questions than most adults ever consider asking. My oldest daughter, as a toddler, was like living with a panel of inquisitors that never rested. She was a joy and a delight and she also made me think, A LOT. (She still does).
My sister-in-law, who was only 14 years old (but homeschooled, so she had the freedom to do this) came and stayed with me during the day and helped out considerably. My bed was in the living room and she would make meals for all of us, and do the daily household chores. I taught her how to make nachos, and she really liked that.
After that second episode things went well almost until the due date. On April 29th I read in the local paper that my best friend had her baby the day before! I couldn't believe I was reading it in the paper and she didn't call me, so I called her at the hospital. There was no time for her to have called, and she was understandably quite groggy herself. During that telephone conversation, I went into labor myself. I knew it was labor, but for a few minutes I tried to convince myself it wasn't - not yet - I still had 2 more weeks to go. I told her I thought I was in labor, and she first called me a copycat, then we were both thrilled that our babies would be born just days apart. Sadly, we bothed moved away as they grew up, and they didn't grow up knowing each other, as we'd hoped.
Within the next few hours I was in a hospital bed, hooked up to every machine they have, and after having another ultrasound, received the horrifying news that the placenta previa was still an issue and I would have to have a c-section. I dreaded that more than anything I'd ever dreaded in my life. The doctor had me on medication overnight to slow my labor, and scheduled an emergency c-section for the morning. At the time, it was the most bittersweet night of my life. I knew I was about to meet my new little girl, but I was so afraid of the c-section I was going to have to go through, to get there.
The next day came and the surgery was done, and there she was! She was so tiny, and so perfect. I was heavily sedated and to this day I regret that I cannot remember much of the next 3 days. The pain of the surgery was so intense I had to be put on a morphine drip, and that wiped out all lucid thought I would have normally had. There was some confusion between her dad, myself and the nurses, and when the time came to write her name on the birth certificate form, I mistakenly wrote Jennifer, instead of Jessica, which we'd already decided on. None of us realized it until the form was already sent off to the state registry. So, instead of a Jessica (which would come 4 years later) we got a Jennifer first!
I still can't believe it's been 22 years since that day. "Enjoy your children when they're little, because they grow up SO fast" echoes in my ears whenever I think about the fact that my second oldest girl is an adult now - with a child of her own.
(Please excuse the Eddie Van Halen Hair, it was the 80's... you know how those things go.)