KEEP ME HEALTHY: My best-ever Christmas present

Thirty years ago this past Christmas Eve, I went into labor with my daughter Stephanie. My husband Barry wasn’t feeling well and jokingly (more or less) said, “Please don’t have the baby tonight.”

Around midnight, I had no choice but to wake up my poor sick boy. I was in labor and he was my support team. My timekeeper. My ride to the hospital. I needed him.

We worked hard together all through the night and early morning. The labor pains waxed and waned with no clear pattern. Sometimes they were minutes apart and sometimes the gaps were much greater. We really didn’t think birth was imminent. At 9 a.m., we left for Maine Medical Center, not because we thought we should, but because we found out our doctor was on call until noon and wanted to get there before he left. I insisted on taking a shower first. The fact that I couldn’t easily lift my leg over the edge (only a few inches) made me worry that maybe we had actually waited too long. That and my inability to dress myself. Barry helped me into my clothes, managing to get my overalls on backwards, which I discovered at the hospital when I was trying to get out of them.

I crawled into the back seat of the car because it was uncomfortable to sit and we started off on our half-hour trip to Portland. It was zero degrees and icy. Thankfully, no one else was on the road. My husband deserves a lot of credit for getting us to the hospital safely, especially because somewhere along the way, I began exclaiming that I had an incredible urge to push. We arrived a little after 10 and were whisked off to maternity. Two hours later – 12:06 p.m. on Dec. 25, 1983 – Stephanie Lane Atwood was born.

Being born on Christmas Day may seem special, but can be a challenge when it comes to birthday celebrations. From the beginning, we were diligent about making sure Stephanie’s birthday didn’t get lost in Christmas. Then in 2005, our family took a bold step and decided to rename Christmas. As you can see from the holiday card that’s included with this column, we got special permission.

And so, somewhat belatedly, I hope you all had a “Merry Stephmas” and that your blessings are as great as mine have been since that Christmas day in 1983.

P.S. Yes, it was a big birthday for Steph. She turned 30. 2014 is going to be a wonderful year. Hint: there’s going to be a wedding!

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