Today is my niece’s birthday – my sister’s second born.
I feel the need to commemorate this day with the telling of my involvement in my niece’s births. Both of them were noteworthy, or at least my participation in them was. I wasn’t present for either birth in person, but behind the scenes? Oy veh – can we talk?
When my first niece was born my sister and her husband were living in the apartment above my grandmother. It was a dwelling almost everyone did time in at one point or another. I was still living at home just a mile or so away.
My parents had flown to California to be on hand for the birth of my brother’s second child, which was due at any second. My sister wasn’t due for another 3 weeks, so my folks were certain they could see my brother’s child born, and then fly back to see my sister’s as well.
The universe? It had a different plan.
I was excited to be “on call” for my sister while my parents were away. We were close, and it was her first baby. While I sat alone in my family home one spring night, the phone rang.
It was my brother-in-law calmly stating that my sister’s water had broke. While they were not close to heading out to the hospital, he asked if I would run to the Grand Union and get her some maxi pads to help absorb the trickle of fluid while they waited for the contractions to speed up.
I snapped into action – my mission was clear. I was thrilled to be given even this one simple task to help my sister with her delivery. I grabbed my keys, bolted to my Dodge Colt hatchback and raced towards the store.
The road to the supermarket was up a long, steep hill, and I was immediately slowed down by an old car crawling up the hill at a snail’s pace. It was around 9 at night, and I figured the car had a granny behind the wheel, so I passed it on a double yellow.
I didn’t beep my horn. I didn’t flip the bird. I just quietly passed them thinking I’d see their headlights recede after I put a few blocks distance between us. But they sped up too.
As a matter of fact, they pretty much stayed on my tail the entire way to the supermarket. I was thinking that they were going to yell at me for passing on a double yellow, or maybe it was an off duty cop that was going to ticket me.
I pull into the first spot in the aisle in front of the Grand Union, when the car pulls up next to me and stops. I look over, and the car is filled with young men. The driver turns and looks at me.
Then suddenly he’s pointing a gun at me, tapping it against the window and smiling – a slow, evil grin. I froze, sort of. I actually smiled, put up my hands and shrugged in an “oh well” sort of fashion and then I ducked down and laid flat against the front seat of my car. I was waiting for a boom, but all I heard was tired screeching.
Thankfully they had driven off.
But I wasn’t sure if they were gone for good. I ran through the empty parking lot into the store zig zag fashion, shaking and panicked. I wanted to tell someone, but I felt compelled to get these maxi pads to my sister. I WAS ON A MISSION.
I bought the biggest pack they had – there must have been 60 pads in this sucker, and used it as a shield while running back to my car. My life was in the hands of a jumbo pack of Stayfrees. Thankfully, I got to my car safe and high tailed it out of the parking lot.
When I got to my sisters, I told them of my harrowing adventure, and even called the police to report it from their apartment. The only info I had was the make of the car and the NY plates, but not the actual number. The cops were pretty much disinterested, saying that the thugs were probably over the GW bridge and back in the Bronx by now.
I drove home taking a route that was far out of the way just in case.
My niece was born, perfect and healthy. I went to see her the next day at the hospital and claimed the rights to being the first to discover her dimples. I was happy to be there to see them when I think of what could have gone down the night before.
It would’ve sucked getting killed on my way to get Maxi Pads.
My sister got pregnant again fairly quickly. By this time I was living in the apartment above my grandmother, and they were living above the old woman who lived next door. Being neighbors was great, and also convenient…they had a built in babysitter a stone’s throw away.
The night of August 4th I was in New York City with some friends. By the time I stumbled into my doorway it was around 3 am. I was bushed and wanted nothing more than to drool into my pillow the next 10 hours.
The phone rang before I even got my shoes off. It was my brother-in-law once again, saying that my sister was in labor, and could I come and sit with Meaghan? I figured, it’s the middle of the night, and the baby will be asleep…I’ll just crash on the couch until morning.
I changed into sweats and headed next door. By the time I reached halfway up the stairs I knew that there would be no couch-crashing in my near future. Meaghan, having woken up with the commotion of her parents bustling around the house, was screaming her head off.
I took hold of her and watched them rush out of the house on the way to the hospital. I wasn’t worried though. Megs and I got along great, and I knew the drill… a few of her favorite videos and she’d be out cold again.
We settled into the living room, and I plopped “Kidsongs – A Day At Old McDonald’s Farm” into the VCR. I was sure by the end of the tape she’d be dead to the world, safe in Aunt Tracy’s arms. But she had cried too long and had obviously had enough sleep prior to mommy and daddy leaving the house. As far as she was concerned it was morning.
But I hadn’t had any sleep, and I was close to crying myself at this point. I spent the next 4 hours watching Barney, Sharon, Lois & Bram, and of course, A Day at Old McDonald’s Farm. I think we watched A Day at Old McDonald’s Farm 15 times that night.
Unless you’ve sat through a Kidsongs video, I don’t think you can appreciate what I endured that night. The videos consist of a group of too happy children singing syrupy sweet versions of classic songs. The Old McDonald tape featured songs like “Shortnin’ Bread,” “Skip to my Lou.” “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain” and “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”
These tapes? They are great when you have a buzz on…the kids mess up their lip syncing a lot, and they are so hokey, they loads of fun to cut up on. But at 5 am, with no sleep, and a crying baby? Where is that carload of dudes with the gun now?
My brother-in-law called at 7:30 am or so to tell me I had another niece, Erin. I mumbled “gee, that’s great,” and stumbled back to the couch; E-I-E-I-Oh. Lou, Lou, Skip to my Lou. My friend Sean likes hot cakes hot cakes.
One of his sisters came over to relieve me within a half an hour of that.
The girls and I laugh about these tales now; I’d never want to relive them again, but they make a good story when we are all hanging out together. And I’m glad that I had some small part in their grand debut into this wacky planet of ours.