The Real Reason May 8th Ought to Be a National Holiday

Harry Truman, Robert Johnson, Rick Nelson, Melissa Gilbert, Coca Cola, Let It Be, and Santa Fe National Trail notwithstanding, the real reason May 8th should be a holiday —


It seemed like a good use of time. Labor had begun, but was progressing slowly. No sense not getting some chores taken care of while we waited at home. Most worthwhile seemed the leaky toilet.

I can’t remember what I was thinking, but at some point I moved the toilet too far and ruptured the fresh water feed at the valve. Water was spewing everywhere and there was no way to turn it off. Well into labor or not, the expectant mother went rushing around outside looking for the main shutoff, and then the tool needed to turn its valve. I stayed with the toilet trying to stem the geyser with my hand or a towel or whatever. I think actually at one point we switched roles, but ultimately I was the better stopper and the one who was heavy with child had to get the water off, which she eventually did.

A lot of water can come out of a small pipe in ten minutes (it must have been longer). A lot of water. No matter, we needed more. So it was then — not too surprisingly given all that exercise — that the mother’s water broke.

This was around noon. The afternoon was spent cleaning up the mess and waiting for the landlord to come home that evening so he could repair the plumbing. (I’d done all the harm they’d let me do for one day.) The labor stalled and soon mother, grandmother and obstetrician were playing cards, while I waited for game seven of the NBA Championship to begin. You know the one, the classic where Willis Reed hobbled onto the court, hit his first two shots, psyched out the Lakers, and the Knicks won 113-99.

Grandma and newborn Jill at the kitchen sink for first bath.

Grandma and newborn Jill at the kitchen sink for first bath.

Or so I’ve read, because I never saw the game. After lulling us into lethargy all afternoon, at about 6 PM the baby abruptly said “I’m ready” and within a few minutes Jill was born — at home* in a house that had no running water.

That baby is now a wonderful mother of three herself, photographer, author — once one of my favorite bloggers — pop culture maven, and friend. Happy birthday, Jill.

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* Home delivery hadn’t been planned. The grandmother however, was an obstetrics nurse and the doctor was there as a courtesy to her. Given the baby’s sudden impatience, staying at home was just about imperative. Honoring family tradition, Jill’s second was born in a hospital with no potable water thanks to 2003’s Hurricane Isabel. That plumbing problem wasn’t my fault.

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