Labor Day on Thanksgiving

Recently my son Philip and his wife Ashleigh announced the results of their ultrasound – they are having a girl – reminding me of the birth of our second child. We had chosen not to find out our baby’s sex. Twenty-three years ago, ultrasound machines were not like they are today and the odds of being told incorrectly were high, so we waited. We spent our time discussing names and baby room themes until the big day arrived.

In the wee hours of Thanksgiving morning, I awoke at 1:30 a.m. from a short but deep sleep to hard contractions. The day before I had been released from a month-long bed rest due to a car accident that had occurred at 36 weeks. David and I shopped all day, then stayed up late watching movies. We were college students and our apartment building in Ghent, a trendy section of Norfolk, VA, was empty of residents for the holidays except for an upstairs neighbor who was a medical resident. She readily agreed to stay with our almost two-year-old Philip until David’s parents arrived. We then drove the ten minutes to the hospital through a torrential downpour of rain.

Upon arrival we were immediately ushered upstairs and placed in a labor room. My parents who lived forty-five minutes away arrived shortly after we did. Labor progressed rapidly and at 3:09 a.m. our baby was born. Everyone in the room held our collective breath as the doctor bobbled our baby from hand to hand. He had been caught off-guard because the built-up amniotic fluid had shot our new bundle of joy into his arms like a bottle rocket. A few more juggling moves, a quick blanket wrap and our baby was laid on my chest as the doctor exclaimed, “It’s a girl!”

I was at an awkward angle almost laying on my back, but I was able to stare into the sweet eyes of our newest family member. “Well, hello, Emily Ann. Hello. Oh, Emily Ann you are such a sweet girl, yes. You are such a beautiful baby, yes you are,” I whispered to her, holding her close. David had been standing on my left, my mom and the nurse to my right and the good doctor, well you know, front and center, playing quarterback.

I was brought out of my new love affair by the voice of my mother, “What’s the matter, David? What’s wrong?” There stood David, hands in pockets, a bewildered look on his face.

“I don’t think so. No, I do not think so. That is not a girl,” David slowly stammered.

My mom asked, “What do you mean, David? Come on now, take a look at your beautiful daughter.”

As if my mother was crazy, David shook his head. “No, no, I do not think so. That is not a girl.”

“David. What is the matter with you? Get a hold of yourself. You have a beautiful daughter,” my mother retorted, unable to believe that he was struggling to accept his new baby was a girl.

“No. No. I would be fine it if was a girl, but it’s a boy. I am telling you that is not a girl.”

Before anyone could utter another word and before I developed whiplash from watching the ping-pong debate going on before me, I pleaded, “Would someone please check!”

The blanket was unwrapped. My mom and the nurse stood on tip-toes and leaned over me. My angle still had me at a disadvantage but the collective, “Oh, oh, it’s a boy” from the rest of the room gave me my answer. Honestly, when I finally got a good look at him, counting ten fingers, counting ten toes, counting, well, you know, I have no idea how they mistook him for a girl.

I grabbed my new son tightly and beamed with pride as I declared, “Oh Matthew David Irwin, you are such a handsome boy. Look at Mommy’s big boy.” Perspective is a funny thing. Same baby in moments changed from beautiful and pretty to handsome and big.

I am fairly confident in Ashleigh’s ultrasound that the new baby is going to be our sweet baby Emma Jane. But after the birth of our “Emily Ann,” I always wait until “all parts are accounted for.”

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