Tuesday, March 14, 2006

She Turns 18 Today---How Did This Happen?

Was it not just last week that Lucas and all of his friends were launching cantelopes in the back yard to celebrate his 18th birthday? Three years ago, almost. How does this happen?

Yesterday, I was shopping at Nordstrom as is my custom for her birthday. It used to be when she was a little girl, I'd buy her a pretty new dress that would double as her Easter dress. I fought back the tears as I passed all of the fluffy pink, white and yellow frocks to head for the teen section.

Her soul wanted to be born. We did not choose it and often I think of the mystery of it all. To this day, I am still not certain how I became pregnant with her. My husband laughs and says he is quite happy she looks like him otherwise he'd wonder. Back then, we were in our mid-thirties and we had Lucas. He was a difficult baby to conceive and a difficult newborn and we did not want to go through it all again. Several of our friends who were older parents settled on having one child. I had a career I thought I'd return to and one child made it all so much easier. But, one morning, in the summer of 1987, I was feeling sick in that familiar way. Off to the drugstore I went to buy a pregnancy test kit. The results confirmed my suspicions.

I did not tell Dave for two weeks. First of all, he had a colleague and his family visiting from Japan and we were entertaining and showing them Seattle for a few days. They, too, had a single child and I specifically remember my husband telling folks in an elevator at the University of Washington while showing our Japanese friends around that Lucas was probably it for us. Before Lucas was born, I had a horrific failed pregnancy that in my Grandmother's time would have cost me my life and we had had enough. I remember I almost burst out laughing at that moment but I stifled it because I would have come across as a complete lunatic.

Next, we had a niece come to stay with us to see Seattle. Again, we were playing the role of tour guide and the time was not right to tell my husband. For me, an open communicative type, keeping a secret such as this was agonizing. I kept waiting for the perfect moment but we were never alone together. Finally, in the middle of the night, I was feeling quite ill and having trouble sleeping. Dave asked me what the problem was and I said, "I'm pregnant!"

"WHAT? How did that happen? You can't be serious!" Oh man, it was great. He didn't have a clue after 14 years of marriage. I have never seen him so shocked about anything before or since. It was just like in the movies when the teen age girl tells her boyfriend. This moment will always be one of the greatest memories of my life. He still tells people the father had to be the mailman.

Not only was Kaley meant to be, but consistent with her personality, she chose the time of her birth in an effort to get the best of her mother. We had everything planned down to the minute which included a refresher Lamaze class and a sibling birth class. Little Lucas learned how he was a part of the whole process and practiced diligently putting diapers on Raggedy Andy. The due date was March 25 and since Lucas was 5 days late, I assumed I had until April 1. Our final lamaze class on pushing was scheduled shortly before the due date and our friends at the UW had a big baby shower planned for March 14.

Kaley chose otherwise. Frankly, I believe she wanted to be at her baby shower because she loves presents. At 2 in the morning, on March 14, 1988, 11 days early and one day after my doctor appointment where he told me nothing was going on and that I had at least two more weeks, Kaley decided she wanted to join the party. By three in the afternoon, Lucas had a new baby sister. Missing that pushing class caused me some problems but she was born, nevertheless, without so much as a Tylenol. And yes, she was physically present when we finally took her to the UW to show her off and open her shower gifts. One of her first gifts was a pretty pink dress and you know, I wouldn't be surprised if it came from Nordstrom.

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Kaley at the UW Faculty Club (cheri pearl photography)

Happy 18th Birthday, Kaley! What a gift you have been for us.