“This baby is still alive!” said the doctor. He was talking about me.
Since yesterday was my birthday, I figure I can prolong the self-indulgence for one more day and tell the story of my birth. Partly because it’s a good story having to do with life and death. And partly because I want to address, in every way possible, the amazing responses I had to my birthday.
“You are loved everyday everywhere,” wrote Heather in the card she handed me, along with the tiny perfect box of Lindt chocolates, before we had even climbed from bed. That was only the beginning of a day abundant in best wishes.
But, still, this baby was almost not born those 52 years ago.
My mother was raced along emerg on a gurney, met at the elevator up to surgery by my father who overheard the admitting doctor’s astonished words and learned that the umbilical cord was tightly wrapped around my neck.
My mother wasn’t due for another two months. I was expected to drop into her lap around the time her four other kids headed off to school or wherever they went, sometimes only to the backyard climber or up the street to a neighbour’s.
But one hot July afternoon, as she sat on the front steps drinking a glass of lemon-aid while her kids were inside being babysat by Yosemite Sam, she felt the umbilical cord begin to slither out between her legs.
She called my father who called an ambulance. Maybe then she gulped her drink; maybe she even changed her drink. In any event, an hour later at Creditview Hospital in Toronto, I took a breath.
Back to yesterday: I was the astonished one this time. To be loved, everyday, everywhere, by so many who wished me well in person, through Canada Post, on voicemail, in email, and on Facebook.
It was a George Bailly day and thank you to friends, and to family, and to the doctor who met my mother that afternoon, who reached in and loosened the cord.
I also thank my father for still loving to tell that story of the alive-baby who became me.