Monday, June 2, 2014

Sweet Sixteen

Today, my little girl is sweet sixteen. Sixteen years ago today, my husband was painting a room in the house we had literally just bought, while I was out buying groceries so we would have food for our very first night in our very first house.

We were very excited! Our very first house! It was so amazing to unlock the front door and wander room to room and realize it was ours. We had just under six weeks to go until our baby was due, and we had such plans! We didn't have a crib or anything else yet, but we planned on going shopping the next weekend. For then though, it was about us, in our house, imagining kids playing in the back yard.

But first we needed food. We literally had none, because we had been staying with my parents trying to save up the down payment in the booming housing market of 1998 in Colorado. We had gotten ourselves into some serious debt while we lived in Chicago, but had been working for over a year to erase all of that, and to save up. My parents graciously let us live with them for a little bit for a very low rent, and we were so proud to finally move into our own house. We had intended to move in MUCH earlier (about six months earlier), which is why we tried for a baby. But every time we had saved up the down payment for a house, the market jumped and we had to save even more. It was crazy! We ended up finding a house by chance, before the woman put it on the market, and we put it under contract within the first hour it was officially listed. Back then, people were getting into bidding wars over houses, paying way more than the asking prices (my, how things have changed, right?)

We didn't even have a bottle of mustard. It's amazing how you don't notice those little things in your kitchen until you don't have any of them! So, I took my 6'6, covered in tattoos, little brother with me to the grocery store while my mom and my husband painted away (have to keep the pregnant lady away from the fumes, you know.) I remember it being a very warm day, and I remember dreading where I was going to end up parking. My baby had been breech the whole time, and I carried inside and could barely breath with the baby against my lungs (so no baby belly, I just looked kind of poofy, and not round. I even still had an indented waist, weirdly enough. I'm totally jealous of women who had those lovely round baby bellies!)

People, I got the best parking spot in the lot. You know the one I mean, the one that you think should have been handicapped, but it isn't? The lot was just packed, and it was open. I was beyond thrilled! I pulled in with a little cheer, I turned off the car and my brother stepped out. I went to unbuckle my seatbelt... and my water broke. I mean, it BROKE. I read in a baby book that most of the time the water breaking isn't all that noticeable. Well, not for me! It was unbelievable.

I called out nervously to my brother, and he ducked his head down to window level on his side. After a beat, he said accusingly (more terrified than anything) "YOU broke your water, didn't YOU!?!?!" My brother went from looking like a normal threat to society, to white as a sheet and shaky. I called my mom from my husband's cell phone I had borrowed - huge thing, now that I look back at the pictures - and told them what was going on. I told them I'd meet them at my mom's house and then we'd go to the hospital. The bad part for my brother was that I had to drive.

Now, I know you're not supposed to drive when you are in labor. Apparently, that is a HUGE no-no. However, given the state of the driver's side, it was clear that I needed to be the one who stayed put. So, my big, bad, little brother buckled his seatbelt and tightened it twice, then plastered himself against the passenger side window, gripping the handle in the ceiling, and proceeded to ask me every 30 seconds if I was ok, all while watching me as if he expected me to explode. It was a long drive for only 10 minutes, and not because of the labor. I couldn't decide if it would be a bad choice to take one hand off the wheel to smack him or not, given the circumstances. I've never seen my brother like that, and that includes the time he actually cut some of his own fingers off. The wimp, LOL!

Eventually, everyone made it to the hospital, and I had to have a C-section because she was a bad breech. So it was that our very first night in our very first house was also with our very first baby. We still had no mustard.

My daughter was early, and her initial health wasn't good (we were released after a few days, and then back in the hospital after a day or two because they thought she was going to die.) But eventually she poofed up into the healthy, precocious little princess that I still see in her today. 16 isn't 18, but I still remember how it was with my little girl. How a tickle and a snuggle could make everything alright, and boys were just other kids to play Lego's with.

We've gone from this:

My princess at her 4th birthday

To this:
My princess going to prom a couple of weeks ago. 

Event the cakes have changed from things like this:

Her 4th birthday cake was a lot harder than her 16th. She had barbie cakes a couple times, as well as Elmo and some others.

To this:
Maybe I've gotten lazy, but this took SO much less effort than the Barbie cake, and it tasted SO much better (Chocolate! The other was confetti vanilla cake.)

I miss that little girl. I love who she is now, but I miss that little girl too. I remember being unable to comprehend what it would be like to see her drive off - the one in control. How far a leap that is from the moment your child cannot even hold her head up on her own, to... dating, and looking at colleges. Adulthood is so close I can touch it, and babyhood is so far away now... but I remember it. So clearly. *sniffle*

We were able to save up and do something very special for my daughter, something that we didn't expect to be able to do (and certainly wasn't expected by her. Neither of us experienced this, and that is the norm. But things worked out, and we wanted to.) Now, I sound like a giggling maniac in this video, and I apologize for that up front. It was nerves. The amount of work that this took to pull off was just over the top. We hid it at my mother's house, and even she said she was having issues. She said that she sometimes had this weird urge to blurt out the whole thing to my daughter! She didn't, thank goodness, but who knew doing something over the top would be fraught with so much stress?

So, she's sixteen now. I love that she is, and who she is, and who I can see her becoming more and more every day. But I dreamt of her last night, of when she was about 18 months old and making her happy was all about tickles and snuggles. I woke with a sort of happy, tearful, bittersweet feeling today.

I'm going to be a total mess when she's off to college. Good grief!


Kerstinchen said...

You have a very beautiful daughter. I can't imagine how hard it must have been to keep quiet about the car. I once told my father "I won't tell you you are getting slippers for your birthday!" I think I was ten.

Natalie said...

My waters broke with my daughter when I got up from the toilet, and it wasn't really that obvious and I didn't go into actual labour for another few hours. But with my son I was in hospital in the middle of giving birth and BLAT. That was a doozy.

I was happy/sad the other day because my daughter walked to school by herself for the first time, crossing a road and everything.

MaryFran said...

What a sweet walk down memory lane...and a lion to the future. :-)

Jill said...

I love everything about this post. She was such a cutie and has grown into a lovely young woman.

But most importantly, did you ever get mustard???? ;)

PlumPetals said...

Your daughter is beautiful - wishing you all many, many more happy memories together.

Sharon said...

I have met her in person. She is absolutely gorgeous, kind and she is totally YOU!! Please tell her Happy Birthday from us.

Cathy said...

This post killed me. I'm sitting at my desk trying not to cry. My son is turning 16 in September and I can't believe how time has flown. He is such a loving and fantastic person now, but I definitely miss the little boy he was. And you're right, I don't know what I'm going to do when he goes to college, I may have to take some bereavement time from work. ;-)

Z @ Kicking Kilos said...

:) wow you drove in labour???
Some super mom right?

Pics are still uploading--but I am sure they are v pretty :))

Leslie said...

Aww..I didn't get to see the video, but I loved your post:) now, of course, I want some cake. Happy Birthday to your beautiful daughter!