18 years ago...

Gosh, has it really been that long? I can't believe it.

I got told we were expecting shortly after moving to Arizona without my wife and eldest daughter. The late 80's had killed us and our dreams of being business owners and we found ourselves in the early 90's broke and desperate. We had friends in Arizona that offered us a job, so I took the offer (which fell through) and I left my young family to go to Arizona in hopes of creating a better life.

6 months later, and still almost 2 months too early, I left the Mrs. at the hospital with the assurance that the preterm labor had been controlled and "nothing would happen". I was working at Pizza Hell for only slightly more than minimum. My boss, being the poorly paid drone that he was, said he needed me to come in even though my wife was in the hospital because his basset hound was having puppies. Yes, really.

Hating life, my boss, and my job, I puttered my way through the night. When I finally had time I called the hospital to check on my dear wife. The nurse said she couldn't come to the phone but that she and my daughter were doing fine. "huh?" "Mr. A, it's a girl".

Someone behind me cleaning up the restaraunt said something like "wouldn't it be funny if she had the baby while he was here". As I was hanging up I replied "she did, it's a girl". I tried to call my boss, be he didn't answer his phone. Having the only key, I had to wait until things were done before I left. But as soon as I could, I went to the hospital.

I don't remember the drive or getting through security and such, but I barged my way into the Mrs. room. Funny thing, as she starts to relay the story, a nurse comes in and says "Mrs. A, your mother is here". Her mother? How did she know? How did she get to Arizona from Iowa so fast? I went out to meet her only to find a person who could in no way be related to my wife. University hospitals, fun.

So, anyway, I finally got the whole story. After I left the Mrs. at the hospital, they moved her to a room with other women who were having pre-term labor issues. In a big city, there are always a few. So, she's sitting in this room and her water breaks. Two months too early. After getting the staffs attention, the rush her into the emergency delivery room, afraid they'd have to do an emergency C-section.

But baby was coming too fast. And backwards. They tried to turn the baby while she was still inside her mama. Twice. Both times, she flipped back. She was coming on her own terms and in her own way. Twenty minutes after the water broke, out she came, butt first, mooning the world as she entered it.

She was small. Not ultra small, but still small, and too early. The next couple of months were a blur. I still had to work, but we spent every possible minute at the hospital. She had to spend all her time in an incubator until she could breath on her own. That's not exactly right, she was breathing on her own, but not getting enough oxygen into her bloodstream. And she needed to gain some weight. She was 4lbs. 10oz. at birth, but almost instantly lost the 10oz.

But things went the way they were supposed to. The incubator did it's job and she could come home. She was so small, Not even big enough to wear premie clothes. Cabbage Patch dolls were all the rage then, so we bought some Cabbage Patch clothes for her. And even those were too big. To give you an idea, here's an outfit similar to one we used to put on her. I added the ruler for reference.
The outfit hung off of her. Imagine a little tiny head through the top and the feet barely sticking out of the legs of the shorts. We had to put extra padding in her car seat just to hold her in there, we had to sew the belts to fit because they wouldn't tighten enough.

Today, you'd never know. She's 6 feet tall and getting scholarship offers from all over the place.

Happy Birthday, Miss C.