When I was three months’ pregnant with Laura we moved into a new home, and by new I mean that it was a forty-year-old home that was new to us. The house lolled on over an acre of land with a variety of mature trees gracing the property. It even had a little creek that meandered along the back of it. The family who lived there before us, and who were to become our friends, had filled the home with love. From the moment that we took possession of that house, the good karma in the air was palpable. Although being pregnant at thirty-nine had its ups and downs, at least I was gestating in a cozy nest.

At precisely nine o’clock on a Friday night early in Y2K, Laura’s imminent arrival made itself known. The scheduled C-section was not for another week, and so what happened was unexpected to be sure. One of our favorite TV shows at the time was Now and Again, and Tom especially looked forward to it each week. I went to the bathroom just before the show was to start. We didn’t have TiVo® back then, and so if I didn’t go before the show started, my nine-month-pregnant bladder would have had to hold it until a commercial break. I finished my business and stood up, which was the point at which amniotic fluid came gushing down my legs.

Tom [calling out from his position in front of the television set]: “It’s starting!”

Cheri [calling back from the bathroom]: “You better believe it is!”

Tom [still calling from front and center of the TV screen]: “What do you mean?”

Cheri [still calling from the bathroom]: “You’re not going to believe this. My water just broke!”

Tom [running into the bathroom]: “Your water broke? What does that mean exactly?”

Cheri [stuffing a bath towel into her maternity pants]: “It means that amniotic fluid is pouring down my legs, the baby is coming, and we have to go to the hospital.”

Tom [drifting back toward the television with one eye looking wistfully at the screen]: “Well, how soon do we actually have to leave for the hospital? I mean, do you really need the amniotic fluid?”

Cheri: “Honey, we don’t have time for me to explain the purpose of amniotic fluid because I’m already starting to feel labor pains. And because one of the very few benefits that a C-section offers is avoiding labor pains, I’d like to go now before they get worse.”

Tom still looked doubtful, so I lobbed in the winning point. I told him that if we beat it to the hospital and Laura was born before midnight, her birthdate and his would be exactly one week apart. Our departure for the hospital was delayed just long enough for Tom to put a tape in the VCR.

As we backed out of the garage, just outside and to the right of the car was a rather bare and scraggly looking tree. I was told that when the prior owner of our home had added an additional single-car garage to the preexisting double one, he took great pains to build the garage and driveway around that tree. And while I’d be the last person to capriciously cut down a tree, I couldn’t help but think that that particular tree might not have been worth the effort and expense to build a garage and driveway around it. In the short time that we’d lived there, the tree had gone from having oddly yellow-and-orange-hued leaves throughout the autumn until winter when it began to take on the aforementioned bare and scraggly state.

Laura was born just over two hours after we left home that night, weighing in at almost ten pounds, another reason this particular C-section turned out to be rather handy. After spending two nights in the hospital, despite that a C-section entitles the insured to a whopping three nights, I begged to be discharged to the comforts of home. And home we went. Tom, who is notorious for his fast driving, was the proud and careful father of a new baby girl. He made us all laugh as the speedometer never broke 10 MPH all the way home. As we entered the driveway, the first thing to catch my eye was that tree. It was in full and glorious bloom. Every branch was laden with zillions of delicate white flowers. That previously scraggly old tree had surely blossomed into a breathtaking welcome-to-the-world greeting just for Laura, and I began to sob aloud at the mere sight of it.The postpartum hormones were probably beginning to blossom too, but at that moment the sobbing seemed to be tree-based. From that day forward, we referred to that tree as Laura’s birthday tree, and each year it would fulfill its mission to bloom in time to commemorate her special day.

2000

2001

2004

2005

In the middle of 2005, we moved again, and to my utter dismay there was no special tree for Laura’s 2006 birthday at our new home. Laura and I decided that we would enjoy the delicate white blossoms on the trees in front of the nearby YMCA, and call those her birthday trees, but it wasn’t the same. And so I went to a local nursery and bought not only a lovely, little birthday tree for our yard, but also a trellised version to grow along the fence near our back gate so that her 2007 birthday would be complete with many a pear blossom.

2007

And so here now is my solemn vow: Wherever our future goals and dreams may carry or keep us, from this day forward, I will always ensure that there is at least one Pyrus calleryana tree in our yard.

8 comments on “Happy, Happy Birthday Baby”

  1. Cheri, the only problem is that when you move to New Zealand to be closer to me, Laura’s birthday will be in the summer and that tree won’t bloom then. Can you switch to a banana tree?

    Carolyn

  2. What a wonderful birthday story! When my oldest was born in December, approximately two weeks later it snowed. It never snows where we live. Whenever brings up the subject of when it last snowed here, I can quickly tell them that it was December 1988. Special memory for me.

    Happy birthday to your girl!

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