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American cheese and a pillow left in a car

Today marks the 15th anniversary since I went into labor with our first son, Ryley. He wasn’t born this day. He waited until mid-morning January 22nd to finally scoot out and say hello to all of us in Room 12.

I suppose I remember today almost as fondly as tomorrow because I knew I was on the verge of meeting my little boy. We had been through a lot together, including a hospitalization Thanksgiving week due to a nasty respiratory infection and months of steroids that left me puffy and moon-faced. Still, he thrived and kicked and told me all about it. 15 years ago I spent the day at my parents’ house, doing laundry. Our apartment had a washer and dryer, but they were unreliable and far from our unit, so once a week I’d haul our dirties there and hang out. I remember sneezing a lot that day. Every sneeze made my toes curl because the sneezing caused contractions. That was new.

For dinner that night, our little family of three went to Sonic as contractions arrived with regularity. I ate a grilled cheese, tots, and chugged a vanilla Dr. Pepper. A year and a half later, I recreated this dinner in an attempt to go into labor with Sam. It did not work because uterine contractions and hormones are not affected by sad-sack sandwiches. Sonic’s grilled cheese appear to be made with an iron pressing down on two pieces of white bread with a slice of cheese slapped between. It was the last thing I ate before Ryley was placed in my arms. It’s turned out to be his food totem, too. Bread n’cheese, he swoons.

When I declared I was truly in labor—hie me to a hospital—we dropped Aidan off at my parents’. As we drove, I was afraid it was false labor and they’d send me home, just like they did countless times with Aidan. I refused to take my bag or pillow up to Labor and Delivery because I was positive they’d make me do the walk of shame outta there. It’s much, much worse when you have bags to haul out. When you don’t have bags, you can pretend you were casually dropping by at 9pm to drop off paperwork.

But they kept me and it was so quiet, they let me choose my room. I picked the one with a stained glass window, of course, plus it happened to be next door to the labor whirlpool. The room was painted with tropical trees and flowers and I spent hours in that tub waiting for Ryley. Waiting and waiting and waiting.

Having a baby is an extraordinary thing, but it has a prologue of ordinary moments. Like laundry and a splash of vanilla in a fizzy drink. Like American cheese and a pillow left in a car. Today is the 15th anniversary of Ryley’s prologue, let the chorus sing.

Ryley at age five, ten years ago. Ten years ago!?

1 comment to American cheese and a pillow left in a car

  • amy

    I remember reading Ryley’s birth story a few years back, but I don’t think you mentioned the trip to Sonic, but I remember the stained glass window. Happy birthday to him, and I hope you enjoy the day too.

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