Monday, January 16, 2012

The Circle of Life: My Birth Story - Told by my Mother

Thirty-four years ago Ellen Lynn Marshall became a Mother.  She became my Mother.  For my birthday, I had decided a while ago that I wanted my Mum to write about my birth story.  Doesn't everyone love to hear about the day they came into the world?  No matter how many times I've heard the stories I could hear them a million times over and never tire of it.  It's important to know not just how you came into this world but also how much your parents anticipated and looked forward to that day.  My Mum tells me stories about my Dad rubbing her belly and talking to me through her belly.   These little stories stay with us forever to be passed down from generation to generation.

Here's the story of my birth....thank you Mum for writing this for me.  It means more than you know.


1977 may not have been memorable to most people except for the fact that Elvis Presley died and we had the worst snowstorms ever.  You couldn’t see across the street and the police were using snowmobiles to get formula and supplies to people with babies and medicine to the ill. My husband got snowed into work for a couple of days.  I was pregnant with my first child and can remember the snow coming up to my stomach.  The baby was due in January, 1978 and I’m thinking “I really don’t want to have this baby at home or on the back of a snowmobile!”  I also remember that along with Elvis dying in 1977 so did my beloved grandmother and the day I received word of her death was the first time I felt this little thing in my abdomen move.  It felt like butterfly kisses and I think it was an indication of the type of child I would eventually give birth to.  The Christmas of 1977 also had a ghastly flu (called the Russian Flu) going around and so many people had it.  My husband was so ill we couldn’t attend his family’s Christmas dinner.  Fortunately I didn’t catch it.

January 16, 1978 – the storm broke, the sun was shining and the morning started with a few twinges.  My husband got home from work and we headed straight to the hospital because the twinges were now about 8 minutes apart.  We were clueless so we parked in the covered parking across the street from the hospital and I only had to stop to throw up once!  Bonus.  I had no family around either and if one of my female friends hadn’t asked me what I was bringing the baby home in the poor child would have come home in January in a diaper.  Like I said…clueless.

My labour progresses rapidly once I’m in the hospital bed and other than throwing up every few minutes and requiring two epidurals it didn’t seem too bad.  I remember the doctor telling me I was a very quiet mother-to-be and probably had a high pain level  threshold.  They had to break my water and then things really started to happen.  Into the delivery room I went with a very nervous father-to-be.  He didn’t want to be there but a nurse gave him the scrubs and told him to get ready.  We were joined by a lot of doctors, nurses and an anaesthesiologist.  Seemed normal to me because this was my first child.  It wasn’t until I had my second child and there was only the doctor and one nurse that I realized how unusual it was to have so many people in the delivery room.  

It turns out the umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck and they were preparing to anaesthetise me and do a delivery by surgery.  Somehow the cord came undone and the delivery went surprisingly easy.  The nurse handed the baby to my husband first and it was love at first sight for both of us.  He turned out to be an amazing father in spite of being a macho, macho man who lived for sports.

Three days later we bring home this gorgeous baby.  Bias aside, she really was a beautiful baby weighing 7 lbs. 8 oz. and even my hospital roommate’s husband commented on her beautiful colouring and wished their babies looked like that.  His wife was not impressed…not even a little bit.  

She did go on to become a beautiful child and eventually a beautiful mother herself. 

Winter had not finished with us.  One week after we brought her home another storm hits.  We lived in a three story walk-up and the winds were so wicked I was afraid the windows would blow in so I pulled the tiny crib out into the kitchen beside a load bearing wall and shut the bedroom doors.  The roof slid off our apartment building to the ground below.  All I heard was a big swoosh and loud thump and there it was in the snow bank.    Just a side note – the crib was a miniature white crib that would be considered illegal now but had held 3 generations of Marshall children…all of whom survived that “death trap of a crib”.

Naming her turned out to be a surprise to my husband.  Apparently we had agreed on Stephanie and I changed the name to January because of some silly book I read and forgot to tell him.  I think the name suits her but I can remember her paternal grandmother saying she didn’t care for the name.  She probably thought I was a hippy.

January went on to be a delightful and funny child and such a camera hog.  Just point a camera at her and she would immediately smile.   I loved those drooly, toothless, hairless smiles.  She grew up to be an easy child to raise. I especially remember that when she was a teen, for punishment I would send her to her room.  Didn’t bother her a bit because she loved to read and that’s what she would do.  Sometimes when I told her she could come out she wouldn’t right away.  Did I mention she could be stubborn too?

Now she’s the mother of two busy boys and has continued to be an amazing daughter as well as a wonderful mother and wife…and she’s a terrific cook.  She has so many traits that she didn’t get from me and some I think she chose on purpose to avoid being like me.   She says I’m quirky but I say they’re not quirks if they’re yours.  She of course, is quirk-free…um….riiiiight!

I love my daughter, January Dawn Soden, and I love my mother, Norma Rae Cole, and now I’ve gone from raising children to sharing my home with my wonderful and equally quirky mother.  You watch your babies struggle to learn everything and then you watch your elderly parent struggle to remember everything.  It’s the circle of life and I’m glad to be a part of it.

Happy Birthday Gorgeous Girl.  Thank you for the honour of writing for your blog on one of my favourite days of the year.


I don't have a birth picture (they are somewhere in a box at my Mum's) but this is the Christmas before I turned 1 with my beautiful Mum in one of my favourite childhood places - Goderich, ON.
My Mum says I was beautiful but that is one large noggin I had.
My Dad and me on my first birthday.  Clearly not a fan of the candle.
(look at that head! - it's practically the same size as my father's!)


Andrea @ The Penny-Roach's said...

Your mom's story is beautiful, and your comments on the pictures are hilarious! Happy Birthday :)

Kristin said...

Wow! I loooooove this! What a great idea. I don't think I know my birth story that well, I am inspired to ask! Thanks for sharing January and Ellen!

Life by Cynthia said...

I LOVE this post. Such a wonderful idea! Happy birthday to you! I really want to follow your lead and post my birth story from my mother on my next birthday!

Today is my Mom's birthday also. I don't know her birth story too well, but will definitely ask her today! Thank you for sharing.

Mel said...

What a beautiful story to share. I LOVE this. It really is a treasure to see things through your mother's eyes.

January Dawn said...

Thanks ladies! And by all means - use this idea - it's a good one! Everyone should know the details of their birth stories (minus the grisly ones - 'cause I have lots of those myself).

I will treasure this story forever. Thank you Mumma.