Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Best News Our Mother Could Have Told Us -- Chapter 7 in My Life Story

When I was a kid, I went to bed pretty early.  Eight-o-clock was our bedtime, every night.  When we turned ten (double digits -- WOO HOO!), we got a new bedtime -- 8:30!  I remember when Nate turned ten, he would smirk gloatingly as Anna and I traipsed off to bed, while he got the extra half hour of freedom.  So when it was my turn, I thought it would be just great to have that extra time up, but more times than not, I felt bad for my sister, and I would end up going to bed before 8:30!  My parents were pretty easy on us staying up and talking (we shared a room for the most part) since we went to bed so early, so bedtime was totally playtime.  Around my tenth birthday, Anna got her own room (formerly Mom's sewing room/our play room).  We still chose to sleep in the same room -- some nights her room, some nights mine.  We made up songs or skits or (our fave) commercials and then performed them for Mom or Dad when they came up to "tuck us in".  Anna and I each had a stuffed tiger (from our stays in the hospital) that we loved to play with and pretend they were our children.  My room had a large mirror on the wall directly across from the bed, so we would watch ourselves in the mirror.  At one point I invented the best and most scary face imaginable, and we would sit up making the face at ourselves in the mirror until we shivered with fear.  When we slept in Anna's room, she had a night light that cast our big shadows up on the wall, so we would perform commercials or skits and watch our shadows.

We had just gone to bed in Anna's room one night, when my parents called us, so we got back up.  Mom put a little picture on the table and asked us if we knew what it was.  It was just sort of black and white lumpy looking, and we didn't know what it was.  Nathan pointed out that it said Mom's name at the top, so it had to do with her.  "Yes!" she told us "you're putting it together!  See, this is the head, this is the feet. . . "

"A BABY?!!!!!!!!!!!"  You cannot imagine our shrieks of delight.  Mom and Dad confirmed that, indeed, we would have a new brother or sister at the end of May.

We were wild with excitement.  I don't really think my parents expected us to settle down and sleep anytime really soon after that news!  Anna and I bounced on her bed, chattering excitedly about the baby that was coming.

In the following months, Mom was given baby showers (she hadn't had a baby in 9 years, so more than one group of people decided to bless her this way) and craved bean burritos from Taco Bell.  Anna's room was turned into a nursery, and she moved back into sharing my room -- something we didn't seem to mind a bit.  The nursery was the best room in the house.  Anna and I would go in there and quietly organize and reorganize the bottles of lotion and power, baby clothes (there weren't many since ultrasounds in 1989 weren't great at predicting gender) and tiny diapers (Mom used disposable diapers this time around -- I remember her buying Luvs).

On May 11th, the 3 of us were taking standardized tests at home (Mom didn't much care for those, but had us take them now and then anyway), when we could tell something was going on.  Mom would disappear from time to time, and we overheard her on the phone.  There was nothing standardized about the tests we were taking at that point!  Later, Mom found out that we scored terrible marks on our tests, but it's hard to blame us!  We were sooooo distracted, knowing our teacher was in labor!  We drove to the doctor, and he sent Mom away for a bit.  He told us to run an errand and come to the hospital in a couple hours.  I remember we went to the store and bought baby blankets.  I was very anxious to get Mom back to that hospital!!  When she was finally allowed to check in, the 3 of us settled down for a wait in the waiting room.  I can't imagine most people leaving their 3 children to wait by themselves while their mother has a baby, but Dad checked in on us from time to time, and we would have flipped if we had to stay home or something.  Mom packed us presents to open periodically.  After a half hour, we opened our first presents -- books to read while we waited.  The next hour, and we opened sour straws candy.  At some point Dad came to take us to eat in the cafeteria (we thought it was delicious!), and we all made our predictions what time the baby would be born -- Dad wrote down our predictions and stored them in his shirt pocket.

A baby girl was born after 8:00pm!  We were ushered in to see the baby in the delivery room.  I remember holding my little sister before she was bathed or anything -- just wiped off a bit and wrapped up.  Her hair looked black and we all agreed which name she should be called (my parents had 2 options in mind) -- Abigail!  A little later that night after she was washed, her hair looked much lighter and we all suddenly changed our minds -- she looked more like an Emily to us!  So that's what she was called.

We all tossed around middle name suggestions, but my parents couldn't make up their minds.  I remember before my mom was going to be discharged, a nurse came in with the birth certificate and asked if they'd decided on the name.  Mom told Dad just to pick, so he named her Emily Susan Benzing.  My mom's middle name was Sue, and that was the name she went by, so Emily's middle name was after Mom. 

Me bringing Susie home -- this was Emily's sweater
The next day Dad took us shopping, and let each of us choose a dress for the baby.  I remember that department store with all the fluffy little dresses (it was the late '80s!) that were wider than they were long.  We all picked 0-3 months.  Mine was blue with pink flowers embroidered on it, and I thought it was so so pretty.  

Emily wore a baby nightgown with colorful stars on it for her trip home (gender neutral, remember), along with a yellow hand-knit sweater that someone gave to my mom for one of her baby showers.  When I was pregnant, Mom gave this sweater to me, and MY baby Susie wore it home from the hospital, too! 

Emily with Grandpa Benzing at about 4 months old

I turned eleven not long after Emily was born, but the best thing about being ten turned out to be something much better than staying up a half hour longer at bedtime.  I am linking up to Mommy's Piggy Tales where we are telling the stories of our youth.


Anonymous said...

Oh Gretchen your writing grips my heart and lets me share some of your childhood feelings. How precious.

Crystal said...

How wonderful to actually be able to remember bringing hope a sister! Of the 3 sisters of mine, I only vaguely remember the 2 younger even being babies! Actually funny enough my youngest sister I don't even remember it all happening or my mom being pregnant and I was 7! But you have such detailed memories of yours, how wonderful!
Thanks for sharing them!

Janette@Janette's Sage said...

How six range in ages 26 to 4! One was a baby in 1989!
There are 10 years between the last two...and we all have celebrated that last one...this is such a precious memory to share and remind us all how siblings feel about new siblings...the best present of all "Life". Thanks for sharing

gianna said...

okay, that is TOTALLY the best news ever! HOW cool! What a great story!

Diane at Perfectly Imperfect Life said...

I often wonder what our girls would do if we suddenly presented them with that kind of news (not that we're planning on it!). I loved reading about how excited you were.

I also really enjoyed reading about you sharing a room with your sister. My girls share a room now (they're 9 and 5) and the older one is starting to voice some complaints every once in a while. I hope we can get them to go a little bit longer...

Anonymous said...

that was pretty much the best day of my life! :) Except possibly when Emily was BORN. :) that was awesome too...


Emily Benzing said...

I just read this!!! :) I always loved to hear mom talk about how excited she was when she found out she was having another baby! :) I know that Susie and I will wear her name proudly. :) I love you!