The Tater Tot's cousin Hash Brown turned one year old yesterday! I was there for her birth and it's one of the best memories of my life.
I woke up on the morning of the 6th in a bad mood. I hopped in the shower, took the dog out and headed out to work the breakfast/lunch shift at the dining hall for the college Spud worked for. It was cold, miserable, and all I could think about was this student who kept stealing from the dining hall and would give me dirty looks while she did it.
About an hour after I got to work, my phone rang. I couldn't reach for it fast enough but I recognized my mother's ringtone and knew what was going on. My sister (Curly Fry) was having her baby today! I took my phone into the hallway and called my mother (Grammy Spud) back. Curly Fry's water had broken and they were on the way to the hospital! I ran back into the kitchen and exclaimed to my newly appointed bosses, "My sister's water just broke!"
"Well, what are you still doing here?! Go!" I started for the door.
"Wait! Will you be back in time for lunch?"
At the time, we lived in Cleveland and the rest of my family lived near Pittsburgh. It was a two hour plus drive (one-way) and she still had to go through the labor process. I said no, I don't think I'm coming back for lunch, dinner, late dinner, or even for breakfast the next morning!
I hightailed it out of there, ran home, packed a bag of things that didn't even match, and drove home to Pittsburgh. It was the longest two hours of my life. I called everyone I knew. Had updates from my mom about how Curly Fry was doing, prayed, and drove faster. Turns out, I could have taken my time, had a bit to eat, done my hair, and watched a movie!
When I got to the hospital, my mom proclaimed, "She's one and a wiggle!" meaning, just over one centimeter dilated. We'd pause every few minutes and hold her hand while she writhed in pain from the contractions. 'I'm not going to be like that,' I thought. 'She needs to breathe and relax.'
The nurses started her on Pitocin (the evil EVIL drug) and the contractions got worse. At three cm, she begged for an epidural. After 12pm, life got a little better for Curly Fry. She still had heartburn and was starving for something other than ice chips, but at least she was calmer and not in pain. She couldn't move her legs, but she was calmer.
Around 4:30 or 5:00pm, the nurses and doctors kept coming in and checking her a lot. They were worried about Hash Brown's heartrate. They tried inserting an internal monitor into the baby's scalp, putting Mama on oxygen, and turning her on her side to get the baby's heartrate to stablize. It would dip after every contraction - which is normal, but not to such extremes as they were seeing.
Just before 6:00pm, the doctor said, "That's it - we're doing a c-section!" Crying, Curly Fry signed papers, had her epidural amped up so she was numb from the neck down, and was wheeled away to be prepped for an emergency c-section.
Her fiance, Home Fry, changed into his scrubs and everyone in his family hugged and kissed him and wished him luck. They went into the waiting room but I stayed behind until everyone was out of the delivery room. I gave him a big hug and said, "I love you, you know that right? You're my brother in law, no matter what. And you're about to be Hash Brown's daddy. You be good to Curly Fry, ok? I mean it! You talk to her and hold her hand and comfort her. And if you hurt her, I'll hurt you, ok? You got it?" I gave his neck a little squeeze.
"Ow! Ok, I know! Man...!" he said.
"Ok. Now go take care of her!"
At 6:01pm, March 6, 2008 Ava Marie was born weighing 6 pounds, 11 ounces and just 19 inches long. She had black curly hair that was wispy like feathers, but thick and full enough to give her mother heartburn. While Curly Fry was in the recovery room, we watched as she was given her first bath, wrapped in warm blankets, and dressed in a tiny t-shirt and cap. It wasn't until after 8pm that my sister could finally see her baby, but when they wheeled her up to the window, it was such a beautiful sight. Her hand flew to her mouth and she started to cry and I got a great picture of our mother comforting her, while they both looked at the baby.
We stayed at the hospital until 11pm and then Grammy Spud and I went for cheeseburgers because we were starving. The weather was pretty mild and then the next day we went to visit again. As I left to go home to Cleveland, I looked outside and saw giant snowflakes falling faster and faster. Where had this come from?? It took me over four hours to drive home (usually a two hour drive) and by the time I got home, there was nearly a foot on the ground. The next day, the snow was up to my hip, which made travels back and forth to the hospital a little difficult for Home Fry and Grammy Spud.
Mom and baby were released on Sunday and spent the first night at home, just the three of them, as a new family. And now, just one scant year later, Hash Brown is healthy, happy and has three teeth! She walks a few steps and then starts to lunge forward when she gets scared of her own independence. She can say, 'Mommy, Daddy, Baby,' and one time we thought she said 'Button.' She has beautiful brown eyes and a mischevious grin that makes your heart melt. All of her dark curly hair is piled on top of her head, leaving just short, tiny ringlets underneath.
She's my beautiful niece, Tater Tot's cousin, Grammy's first grandchild, number 5 of the great grandchildren on my dad's side, and holds all of our hearts in her tight little fist.
Happy Birthday Ava! We love you!