Do we ever really take time to think about what we are celebrating on our Birthday?
Today, 100’s of people have wished me Happy Birthday. Today, I celebrate the day I was born. Today, I celebrate that my parents chose to have me. In fact, they longed to have me.
My parents lived in Guam during the Vietnam War. They were married in April of 1970 and had to wait over three years to “have me”. My mother told me how hard it was for her to go to church on Mother’s Day and that she often felt jealous of other women with “babies”.
On March 17, 1973 my mom wrote
“You will be our long awaited first born and we are so excited and thrilled at the anticipation of your arrival.
On November 11, 1973, My mom wrote the following in a “journal” to me:
“I wish I could remember and record every detail, every moment of the day we brought our first born, our daughter home. It was Sunday the seventh of October, Blair arrived at the hospital at 8:30 am but the baby wasn’t released until close to noon, so we sat and waited and wondered what our new life would be like. We brought the baby, Jennie Joanna Ford, right home to our apartment in Reseda, California. Blair had taken a week off from work to care for the Baby and I . I could have had my mother down or even stayed at her beautiful home for a while, but we waited so long to be a family and so we came home as a family to love and care for eachother alone. The house was beautiful, spotless and never looked so good to me, Blair brought the cradle that he had built into the living room and we laid the baby in it and just stared at her all day. Our child, our beautiful, perfect baby. Blair kept looking at me in amazement. At what we apart of , this new life and thanked me. He just said ÒThank youÓ all day. I never felt so much love, peace an happiness radiate from a house before, and yet it was there. A part of heaven, our daughter brought to us from heaven where she had been just days before. If I should live to be 100, I will never forget that feeling, the love we shared those next few days.
It was Thursday morning about 2 am, I awoke with contractions. They were 15 minutes apart, lasting only 15 sec. They went away completely within 2 hours. But that was the beginning. I got up again at 6 am, fixed Blair breakfast, kissed him goodbye and went back to bed for a few hours. The next time I awoke I noticed a show of blood. I wasn’t fully aware of what was happening. I called my mother and asked her to come down and visit. Maybe we could go out to lunch. My father dropped by before mid-morning on his way to San Diego on business. He told me to have the baby that day.
My maternal grandmother had died at 94 only a couple of days before. My mother would have flown back east for the funeral, but stayed for me. This would be her tenth grandchild and yet in so many ways her first. How fitting God should give life just after he had taken another away. At about eleven am, the pains began again, about 15 minutes apart, 15 seconds long. By the time my mother arrived (about noon) they were steadier and we decided not to go out for lunch. I began to pack for the hospital. We decided at 10 minutes apart I would call Blair to come home. That was about 2 pm. When he came in there was excitement, nervousness all over his face. He showered and my mother left ahead of us. We would go to her home (only 10 minutes away from the hospital) to wait for the pains to get closer. Before Blair and I left, I sat on the edge of the bed. He placed his hands on my head and gave me a husband’s blessing. It was a beautiful blessing but all I remember was that he blessed me that I would be able to go through with natural child birth, we had prepared for. Up to now the pains were easy. I was beginning to think the whole thing was going to be a breeze. We arrived at my parents house at about 3-3:30 pm. Had a steak lunch. Walked in the yard and talked. Blair timed the contractions 7-6 minutes apart, 30-45 seconds long. We were in contact with the doctor. He stopped by at 7 pm to check me. I had dilated 2 cm. He told us nothing would happen until after midnight. I was anxious and excited now, also starved. Since it would be a while I asked for another steak. We called my father and told him, called Blair’s mother and told her the baby would soon be here. About 8pm the pains began to bother me, I had to concentrate to breath properly. I was so tired. Blair and I retained to the master bedroom and rested in the dark after about an hour the pain was hard. They were 2-3 minutes apart sometimes lasting over a minute. We decided to go to the hospital. I showered and kissed my mother goodbye. She was so nervous, as nervous as the both of us. As I left, I thought the next time I see her we will be three. She would come to the hospital later to await the news.
We arrived at the hospital a bit before 10 pm. After walking around the hospital looking for an open entrance for 10 minutes and three pains we finally were omitted. Blair took care of the paper work and I was prepped. It wasnÕt as bad an experience, as everyone told me it was. But by the time Blair came into the room I was beginning to panic. He settled me down. When the doctor arrived and broke my water. Still I was only 3 cm. But this sent me right into transition, of which I was not aware. For one hour pains were intense. No time in between, I was beginning to lose control. I was breathing wrong, unable to communicate and then when I thought I would’t be able to stand it much longer the urge to push began to come at the end of each pain.
The nurse came in. She was a beautiful young woman, a mormon who had just recently gone through natural childbirth herself. She helped so much. I held on to both her and Blair for the next hour. She checked me at each contraction. She told me I couldn’t push. Was this possible? I tried to blow. Blair blew with me, in fact right in my face. But he did better than I did. Involuntarily, I pushed I was scared. I was aware I was losing all control, wondering if I could to through it. At midnight the nurse said we’ll try for 1 am.
She took Blair to get changed into sterile clothing for the delivery room. Soon after they returned they wheeled me into the delivery room. I was so happy to get there. By then the pain had ceased. All I felt was intense urges to push, which I was able to do now. Blair was there and I wondered how women went through this experience alone. I couldn’t have done it without him. He took a seat at my head. The doctor came in and I remember him saying, “Just push when the urges come”. Which I sure did, 3 urges, 3 pushes, and “It’s a girl. A blond 7 pounds 3 oz beautiful, healthy, perfect baby girl.
Now that I think back on it. On the whole process of giving birth, it was probably one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. To be with my husband and give life to a choice little spirit, together. As for natural childbirth, I am a whole hardy advocate of it. I was happy to be aware of the birth process, to have a clear mind. To have my baby in dignity. I was so afraid of losing control, of embarrassing or letting down my husband. Actually, the whole thing went fast, easy and I am looking forward to the next time.”
On November 12, 1973 she continued:
“My mother had been waiting in the Father’s waiting room for hours. She was extremely anxious by the time Blair left me in the delivery room to go tell her. My father had known all along the baby would be a girl. All through my pregnancy he would ask, “How’s my granddaughter?” and so when Blair saw my Mother the first thing he said was “We won’t be able to live with your husband. He was right. It’s a girl!” There were so many women in maternity, there was no room for me. They put me in a vacant labor room for the night .
About 2 am Blair came in to say goodnight. I told him I wanted to see Mother and so she came in. They had taken the baby to see her before depositing her in the nursery. And she thought the baby was beautiful. She said I looked great. I felt good. She asked what we would name the baby and I looked at Blair. He smiled and I said “Jennie Joanna”. We had told her all along if we would name it Jennie after her and still she looked surprised and asked. “Are you sure?” Of course, we were sure. What else could it possibly be?
Blair had told me when he and my Mother had arrived at her house after 2:30 AM, they both grabbed a phone and called all the families. Afterwards, they went to bed, but Blair couldnÕt sleep, walked into my motherÕs room, turned ont eh light and said,ÓLetÕs talk!Ó And so all night while they talked of the delivery, baby, and me- I laid awake and wondered, thought and prayed, thanking the Lord for our new daughter. I was still a bit surprised. My whole pregnancy I expected a baby boy, with dark curly hair. Blair was a beautiful baby and I wanted our first child to look like him. I think I was more surprised it was blond, than that it was a girl. I could still see her when she was born, she was wide awake, wide eyed and active, so healthy and strong. I couldn’t wait to hold her in my arms.
In the morning, they moved me into a room with 3 other women. The room was huge and the women were so nice. It was really a pleasant stay.
When they brought the baby in, I still couldn’t believe it. I held her and thought, “Am I really a mother? Is this my baby? What will life hold for this perfect, innocent child?”
I felt good, really good, and when visiting hours came and no one came in, I knew they were looking at the babies. So, I got up and walked to the nursery. There were Blair’s folks. But especially there was my baby. The only blond in the nursery, with about 25 dark babies.. Blair and my dad came in that evening. My two favorite men and I was so proud to show them my accomplishment, our accomplishment.
The next day, early at 5 AM the nurse woke me up. ”Mrs. Ford, your baby is starving”. In came my crying baby. I bet she woke up the entire nursery. It was so gratifying to put her to the breast and to have her just latch on, like she knew exactly what to do. She quieted down, immediately and since then has been the best little eater. When I took her for her 3 week check up she had gained 2 pounds 3 oz and grown 2 inches. The doctor was so pleased with her progress.
Sunday, we brought our Family home. Blair took a week off work to care for us and watch the World Series. Together we took care of and loved our daughter. It was about 2 days before I forgot how much I wanted a boy. I couldnÕt imagine having anything or anyone other than Jennie. She was perfect.. Ate every 3 hours in the day and slept about 5 hours straight in the night. When she was 2 weeks old we took her to my brother’s step-daughters wedding and reception. They gad a rock band and she slept right through all the excitement. I found out early, she had one attribute of mine. She like to be on the go. She enjoyed going shopping, riding in cars(was her specialty, she fell right to sleep) just being busy. She was just the best baby. We enjoyed her so much.”
Mom, I just want to thank you for the love you expressed in the journals and letters you wrote me. It’s hard not having you to talk to, but I still feel your love as I read your words. I am so grateful to have you for a mother, for the love you expressed and shared with me. Thank you for giving birth to me. Thank you for the opportunity to live!