“Hey, wake up.”
The teenager groaned. It was, after all, very early on a weekday.
But she got up and came out in the front yard with me. Together in the dark and breezy morning air, we waited for and watched the Space Station soar across the sky, a bright, steadily moving light, starting at 5:02 a.m. and finishing its visible path at 5:08.
At 5:07 a.m. on a Wednesday morning 17 years ago, I was at Fresno’s Kaiser Hospital, where Katie was born, after a very extended labor — about 29 hours. That’s when she finally sprang into this world.
My contractions had begun just after midnight the day before, only a few days into my maternity leave.
It wasn’t an easy labor either. Katie was turned around in my womb, her head pressing against my spine in what they call “back labor,” resulting in excruciating lower back pain with every contraction.
Eventually they gave me something for the pain, and I was able to sleep through some of the monster waves of pain.
Katie still did not want to make her entrance, an early sign of her persistence to come. Even after I dilated to the point where pushing is encouraged, and did so for about 90 minutes, the doctor saw no progress. With my condition and hers beginning to deteriorate, they finally decided to do a Cesarean section.
Kids love stories, especially ones that involve them. Maybe Katie’s favorite part of her birth story is the drama immediately after her birth.
She didn’t immediately respond the way babies should. I didn’t hear her cry out, and they whisked her away from me, to fix whatever wasn’t right. Exhausted and feverish after such a long labor, I lapsed into unconsciousness, not knowing what was wrong.
It was several hours later, after I came out of recovery before I knew that she was OK. Her dad held her and sang to her in the nursery before I ever woke up — Barney the Dinosaur’s “I Love You” song.
Today, on perhaps her weirdest birthday ever in the time of coronavirus, I got to slow things down a bit, and do what she requested — make her favorite meal of Emeril’s macaroni and four cheeses, and a homemade layered chocolate cake with chocolate frosting instead of a store-bought Baskin-Robbins ice cream cake.
Before we sat down to dinner, she even put on “The Princess Bride,” which she knows her dad and I watched in the hospital room with her the evening she was born, after the parade of visitors finally slowed.
Tonight, a small group of us celebrated her 17th birthday and watched a video of her friends, teachers, coach and family members wishing her a happy birthday (if you have to put together a special occasion video in these strange times, I recommend VidHug).
She was totally surprised and overwhelmed seeing all the faces she’s missed these past two months. There might have even been a tear or two.
Later, after everyone else had gone home, as we watched “Station 19” — one of our favorites on nights we stay with Grandma — I asked my mom to pause the TV show at 9:43 p.m.
Katie and I went out front again, and watched a rare second-in-a-day appearance of the Space Station, crossing above us again, sweeping from the southwest to east.
We make the stories of our life, by celebrating special moments and savoring special times with those we love, by remembering them and especially when we write them down, capturing them and preserving them so we can retell them over and over.
The Grandson: “Grandpa, maybe you could come over and read it again to me tomorrow.”
Grandpa: “As you wish.”
(Footnote: If you’re interested in getting alerts about when the Space Station will be visible in your area, you can sign up at Spot the Station.)