Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Day I was (Angela) Jean, now with bonus edits by Effie Jean

It was a beautiful day, unusual for the middle of March, and my mother was feeling restless, she was 2 weeks overdue, after all. She had a doctor's appointment early that morning and since she didn't drive back then she walked the 1 km trip all by herself. The doctor took one look at her (there was more involved than that but we don't need to get into those details) and said "You're having this baby today". She was thrilled. She says she felt lighter on the way home. Excited. (I actually skipped down the street) She stopped at a bakery (it was the Elgin Restaurant on Talbot Street, but it's not there anymore) .She had a tea (it was coffee) and a cinnamon roll (danish). She told the waitress that she was having a baby today. (I didn't tell her....but I WANTED to tell everyone) That's how the story goes.

She arrived back at 44 Horton Street, the house my parents shared with my Zia and Zio, by 10am. (You forgot the part where Zia asked me to look after Roberta when she got home from school that day...that was the only time that happened.) My mother went upstairs to their apartment and continued sewing the curtains for the nursery. (There was a huge window in that room and I was sewing long pink panels) Beppe arrived before noon to check on her. (it was 3:30....she had been's important to note that Beppe had never just "dropped in" before) "The doctor says I'm having the baby today, but I don't feel anything except a sore back."  "That means the baby is coming." Beppe said. (this is completely wrong...when I told her that I was having the baby she just laughed and said "ya, RIGHT, you're not having a baby wouldn't be sitting there just sewing curtains)

Beppe and I had tea.That's when I felt my first contraction. I told Beppe that I thought I  felt a contraction. "Did it hurt?" "Nope." "Then it wasn't a contraction."

Later that afternoon the contractions started and my mother was worried my father wouldn't make it home in time. He worked at the golf course and there was no way to get a hold of him. Pake came to bring my mother to the hospital (It's important to note that nothing freaked Pake out more than having a pregnant woman in the car, let alone one in labour). Just as they were getting ready to leave, my father arrived home. (He was even later than usual because he had stopped on the way home to get the car washed.)  "Hey Heit!" he said, seeing Pake in the driveway, "Come on in for a beer." (Finally, you got something right) "You're not having a beer. You're having a baby". My parents went to the hospital together. (We had to leave poor little Roberta with Beppe and Pake.) I was born just after midnight. "If it wasn't for the epidural, you would have been born on March 11" my mother tells me every year.

There was no way to know, but my mother was sure I was going to be a girl. They were going to call me Candace or Vanessa. Apparently when I came out I didn't look like either.

37 years later I wonder if they had any idea what the future had in store for them. I was their first. They were so young.

My last post was about traditions and the re-telling our birth stories on our birthdays was something we always look forward to.

I know that my sister Sara was born on a scorchingly hot August long weekend. All the windows of my mother's hospital room were open and when the thunderstorm rolled in, the vase of roses my father had sent blew over and smashed all over the floor.

My brother F.R. was born in January, during the ice storm of '78. The day he came home from the hospital (it was 3 days later) all the hydro lines were down and the whole city was without power. My Uncle Jake worked as a lineman for the PUC and he made sure that our street was the first to get power. (You forgot the part where you said "God makes the hydro and Uncle Jake makes it work!")

I was 11 when my youngest brother Michael was born so I remember that day myself. We all thought he was going to be a girl. We were going to call him Elizabeth. My mother was an expert by then, but she was still a screamer. She was screaming so loudly during his birth that the doctor had to come in from the other labour room to tell her to keep it down. She was scaring the first time mother down the hall. (That's true. Michael was the only one Dad got to catch.)

It's my birthday today and I just want to say thanks to Effie Jean. After all, she was the one who did all the work. ( wasn't that much work.....I still remember the "pppwwwwt" and you were out.)

How can something that happened 37 years ago feel like yesterday. I can remember every minute.

This photo was taken at Waterworks park. It was the first time I breastfed in public.


  1. Beautiful Renata.

  2. That is a great story and every Mom should share their birth stories, they are always so beautiful and genuine and I love your mom's additions to your blog! I also love the photo.

  3. Wow - I certainly learned a few details I didn't know before!

  4. I love the pop-up video effect. Nice touch.