Janie forced her eyelids open, even though she longed to still be lost in the depth of her dreams.
“I wish you didn’t have to be so wrestless,” Janie jokingly chastised, while rubbing her bulging belly with both hands. Anxious to meet this child growing within her, she tried to not be discouraged with the doctor’s report yesterday – two more weeks to go.
Thankful for the distraction this Independence Day held, Janie managed to slide her feet over the side of the bed and sit up.
She loved the feelings this day held — she truly loved America and felt such pride for living in a country so wonderful and free. During the fireworks, belting out the song God Bless America, land that I love, came easy for her because it was exactly how she felt in her heart. A day of gratitude, a day the entire country came together to celebrate the great birth of this nation. Since this year was the 200th birthday of the country, today’s July 4th held even more promise of grandness.
Before she knew it, her oldest daughter would be awake. She looked forward to viewing the fireworks tonight through her two-year old daughter’s eyes. Since becoming a mom, she cherished the joy of seeing the world around her through the precious eyes of her daughter. She pushed her weary body out of bed, as she had food to prepare for the picnic at her in-laws this evening.
Later that afternoon, with her salad made, they made their way over to Janie’s parents, stopping by to briefly say hello. On her way, she felt the first pains of labor.
Oh no, those stupid Braxton Hicks contractions, Janie grumbled in her thoughts as she sought to breathe through the pain. Distracting herself from the sharpness in her belly, she forced her mind to focus on the fun they would have this afternoon hanging out at her in-laws.
She could see it now — cold, sticky watermelon juice dripping off the chin of her daughter. She closed her eyes, reminding herself to breathe, as she smelled the smoky burgers her brother-in-laws would soon be charring on the grill. As she exhaled, she imagined savoring those cold side salads her mother-in-law certainly whipped up. She pictured laughter and teasing and good wholesome fun shared by all.
The evening indeed held all those memories, and more. Throughout the afternoon into the evening, she continued to feel contractions. In years past, they walked down to Bailey Park to enjoy the fireworks on-site, but this year she decided it best to enjoy the fireworks at her in-laws, in the comfort of her chair.
Fortunately, the distance did not deter from the magnificent display of fireworks commemorating America’s 200th birthday celebration. Brilliant colors filled the sky — the typical red, white and blue, along with greens and golds. The fireworks that seemed to pop out of the night sky and slowly, like a waterfall, pour down to earth, were her favorite. She loved listening to the loud booms which, even from this distance, shook the ground under her. She loved hearing the fireworks crackle, like bacon sizzling on the stove, or rain bouncing off a tin roof. Paired with the fact that her contractions were becoming more intense and closer together, this Fourth of July would be a day not soon forgotten.
“Hey Hon,” Janie leaned over to her husband, “I think this baby might be coming tonight. I think we should see if your parents can keep Catie for awhile, so I can get checked out at the hospital, just to be safe.”
“Are you sure? Tonight? Okay, well, check with my mom and let me know when you are ready to go.”
Janie struggled out of the chair, anxious to pack up their stuff and head out before her next contraction. With Catie resting at her in-laws, they made their way to the hospital. Sure enough, just as Janie expected, labor had indeed begun. She hoped this would be a k labor. Perhaps her daughter might even still be born before midnight, in order to share a birthday with America. In spite of her hopes, a painful, intense, back labor continued throughout the night. Finally, after the sun rose above the horizon, their beautiful daughter entered this world.
However, panic quickly filled Janie as she watched five medics surround her silent newborn. “What’s wrong?” she screamed. “Will someone please tell me what’s going on?”
Before they could answer, like the fireworks that exploded the silence of night, she heard the beautiful cry of her daughter cut through the silence of that hospital room. Indeed, the cry of her daughter proved more glorious than even the most amazing fireworks. Her daughter had arrived — alive, safe, and warm. Janie’s new daughter would not be sharing a birthday with this ‘land of the free and this home of the brave’ after all. Rather, their little ‘firecracker’ would have her own beautiful day to celebrate – July 5th, 1976.