Yesterday my first-born turned eight. She was so excited about it, just as she has been about every birthday. She loves birthdays, because it means she's growing up (all too fast, I might add). I have so much I want to write about my Callie, but I'm having trouble doing it. So many thoughts and stories and emotions are swirling around in my head, and I don't know where to begin. She was my first baby. You mothers know what that means. All the firsts come with this child, and you both have to figure it out together. But you're both the stronger for it.
Strong is an excellent description of Callie. Even in the womb, she proved her will and determination. When I was just seven or eight weeks pregnant with her, I had a threatened miscarriage. Kevin and I had not even told our families that I was pregnant, and I had not yet gone to the doctor. But I had some bleeding, which my inexperience told me meant I had lost my baby. (I may have to take a moment here and regroup . . . )
Wow. It's all still so vivid. For a few hours that day, I was under the impression that my baby was gone, and that horrible feeling can still be so easily recalled. I just cannot imagine our lives without
Callie . . .
This is what happened. I was a high school English teacher in Texas at the time. It was near the end of the school day when I realized I had some bleeding. Not telling anyone what was going on, I just went to the office and, with tears streaming down my face, told them that I had to leave. Before I left, I called the seminary where Kevin was in class and had them give him the message to meet me at our house. (This was before we had cell phones.) I cried the whole way home, and when I got there, I managed to mumble, "I lost our baby." We just stood on the porch and embraced each other and wept.
Again, my inexperience told me that we needed to go to the emergency room, so we did. There I had the lovely experience of having a student nurse attempt to draw my blood and also put in a catheter. Neither of these things is pleasant anyway, but then add to the equation a nurse who was still in the learning process plus a very emotionally distraught patient. Not good.
After a while, they wheeled me up to a large, dark, cold room to have a sonogram, and they wouldn't allow Kevin to come in. Since I was not very far along in my pregnancy, they basically had to fill my belly up with water . . . and then proceed to press on it with the sonogram thingy. Yeah--not a good feeling on my bladder! After a few quiet moments, I heard a heartbeat and dismissed it as my own. But then the technician said, "There's your baby!" I really thought I misunderstood her, but she assured me that that was my baby's heartbeat I was hearing through the monitor. I lay there in the darkness and cried.
After being "deflated" of all that water they pumped into my belly, I was wheeled back out into the hall where Kevin was waiting, and the technician said, "Good luck with your baby!" as she was walking away. Very confused, Kevin looked at me and asked, "What did she just say?!"
The way the doctor described it to us was that Callie had begun to detach from the wall of my uterus but that she was still holding on and just needed time to reattach. He drew a diagram which made her look like a little cliff hanger! So, yes, she's been a determined child from the very beginning.
Each of my labor and delivery experiences was different. But my first one, I'd have to say, was the most exciting--meaning it was most like what you see happening on television or in the movies! It was about a week before Callie was due, but we were so ready for her to come. My sister Julie and her two little ones were passing through Ft. Worth, and they were supposed to be leaving the next day. So we were really hoping I would go into labor while she was still there!
I was pretty uncomfortable and had already been trying to get myself to go into labor, which never seems to work. Earlier that evening, my neighbor brought me an authentic, homemade tamale, which we thought might get things going. For dinner Kevin, Julie, my niece and nephew, and I went to eat barbecue. Then Kevin had to go off to work, so Julie, the kids, and I went to browse at Babies R Us. After lingering there a while, we drove over to Sonic to get milkshakes. I ordered a chocolate one, but before they brought it out to me, something happened.
"Julie," I said, "Either my water just broke, or I have lost all control of my bladder."
I very vividly remember her eyes getting big and her mouth curling up into a smile. "Okaaaaay . . . What do we need to do?" Thankfully, she had a cell phone--as did Kevin by this time--so she called him and told him to meet us at the hospital.
I immediately went into panic mode, I think! Thankfully, we were very close to the hospital, and I think I ran all the way to the nurse's station. Julie and her kids were trailing behind me. When the nurse asked how she could help me, I don't remember exactly what I said--something to the effect of "My water just broke, and I'm about to have a baby! I need a room!!!" Very, very calmly, she smiled and said, "Okaaaaay. Let's see here . . . "
"DIDN'T YOU HEAR WHAT I JUST SAID, LADY???????? I'M ABOUT TO HAVE A BABY!!!!!!!! HOW CAN YOU BE SO CALM AT A TIME LIKE THIS?!?!?!"
Okay, so that didn't actually come out of my mouth, but it was sure going on in my head! I thought that everyone's worlds should come to a halt as mine had! It didn't really register with me that this is what these people did all day every day.
It wasn't until I was already settled into a room that Kevin was able to get there. And he was wearing a chef's shirt and hat. Okay, so maybe he didn't still have the hat on, but that's what he had been wearing, because he worked for a business called Entrees on Trays, which was a delivery service for several area restaurants. In fact, when he got Julie's call, he was already en route to deliver some food, so he had to finish the job. He said the lady was talking his ear off when he finally told her that his wife was in labor and that he really had to go! Thankfully, he had already swung by our house to get our bags and trade cars before delivering the food.
It was a while before I was progressed enough to get the blessed (in my opinon) epidural. Once I had it, I was actually able to sleep some. This was good, because Miss Callie was now taking her time. Actually, we think she was holding out for her audience, because Kevin's parents, my mother, my sister and her boyfriend (now husband) were all driving through the night from Mississippi to get there for the birth! Callie has always loved an audience. (Note: The audience was not in the delivery room.)
Kevin was so great throughout the whole labor. Neither of us knew what to expect, but he was so kind and encouraging. My only complaint was that each time he breathed or talked in my face, all I could smell was MY chocolate milkshake. That's right. Since I had gone into labor before my Sonic milkshake was brought to me, I didn't think I was allowed to drink it. So I saved it for my husband, and it has made for a very vivid . . . and bitter . . . memory.
Fourteen and a half hours after I ordered that infamous milkshake, Callie Elizabeth Partridge entered the world. And nothing has ever been the same for us! We were immediately smitten by her. The nurses called her a dumplin', because she was a chubby baby. The chubbiness very much stayed with her through babyhood and toddlerhood, but then it all went away.
Now that Kevin and I were actual parents, we saw a lot of things in a different way. For example, after we got over the shock that the hospital staff was actually going to let us take this tiny being home with us, we drove a maximum of 30 m.p.h. on the interstate on the way to our house, for we knew how precious this cargo was and that we were now solely responsible for it! Over these eight years, we've managed to loosen up a little and not worry quite as much. (I'm pretty sure that Callie's first babysitter--Arica!--was the only one with whom I left an entire two pages of instructions. Good grief.)
Life with Callie Elizabeth (which is also my middle name--one that I inherited from my great-grandmother) is like nothing I've ever experienced. She is my driven and determined child, as many first-borns are. She is independent and strong and so very talented. She loves to write and draw and sing and create. She would be in heaven if you just put her in a room with piles of blank paper and a pen. Yes, she is her mother's child.
She has already accomplished some pretty amazing things in her young life. In kindergarten--unbeknownst to us--she independently read and tested on over 200 books, which made her the top Accelerated Reader in her entire school, which goes up through fifth grade! It was so crazy. They awarded her with a trophy and a brand new bike! We were so proud of her as she beamed on that stage. The greatest thing was that she had done it completely on her own; no one pushed her. She just absolutely loves to read. She's fast, and she comprehends everything she takes in. I truly believe she has already read more novels than I ever have, and many of them she has read twice!
So that was in kindergarten. When she got to first grade, she wrote a poem for a class project, and her teacher asked if she could enter it in a national contest. Sure! So she did, and Callie was one of the finalists, which means that her poem is now published in an anthology.
Confession. I'm a little jealous that my daughter, whose age isn't even in double digits yet, has been published in a book before me! End of confession.
My Callie is an amazing young lady. I really can't say enough about her. She has a confidence about her that I so admire. She is brave, and she pushes herself to try new things. She is a list-maker, an author, an artist, a director, a producer, an inventor, a teacher, and a tutor, but she is also a princess, a ballerina, a giggle-box, a trampoline-jumper, a bike-rider, a PB&J lover, and a connoisseur of cheddar cheese (It must be extra sharp. And she has referred to it as "cheese in the drawer" since she was one and a half, because we always kept it in the drawer in the refrigerator.). She is kind and compassionate, loving and generous, but she is also a force to be reckoned with.
I am loving watching every moment of Callie's growing up and am excited to see what God has in store for my little lady.