Updated in February, 2016, just a few days before Amalia’s 17th birthday. With the blizzard earlier this week, which included thunder and lightning, I was reminded of a very special February thunderblizzard (is that a thing?) that happened 17 years ago next week. Read on and enjoy the story with me. 🙂
Our lovely daughter Amalia turns 17 next week. It’s very cold today, very white and gray outside, but she lights up the place, so it doesn’t matter. There’s snow on the ground and the temperature is hovering just around 0. February 11 was my Grandpa Young’s birthday, too. It’s good that people are born in February; birthday cake tends to take our minds off our weariness of winter and longing for spring.
I’d love to share with you the story of her birth: would you mind? It’s a good story about a day that started with a thunder snowstorm, and ended with a full-blown blizzard and a beautiful baby girl with a round face and very blue eyes, a girl with a penchant for the dramatic, a love of words and good books, for music and dancing and laughter and pretty things.
We were living in Iowa at the time, and the winter was not a mild one. It was very cold, and there was snow on the ground most of the time, and usually a layer of ice underneath the snow. Winter in Iowa is a little more serious than winter in Nebraska, generally speaking, and this one was no exception.
It was early morning. I was within days of my due date and I suspected that I was in early labor, but I was in no hurry to get to the hospital, which was in another town, about a twenty-minutes-drive away. I preferred to labor at home as long as possible, home--where I could be comfortable, and where our five children were keeping me distracted. Bryan, however, had one eye on the clock (“how far are the contractions apart now, honey?”) and the other on the weather (“YIKES!”).
There was a ferocious winter storm in the day’s forecast, but I was not thinking about that.
My cautious husband was. He called the hospital every three minutes, roughly, checking in with the nurse who was on call, and apprising her of my progress.
Finally the nurse (also a weather-watcher, apparently) told Bryan that if we wanted to have our baby in the hospital, we’d better get there because the storm was beginning to look mighty serious. It was thundering. And the wind was blowing mightily. And it was snowing heavily. And there were flashes of lightning.
It was cool.
Scary, but cool.
It was the first thunder snowstorm that I could ever remember seeing. Such a pity, really, that I was so distracted by waves of pain to enjoy it fully. I do enjoy a good, dramatic weather event, don’t you?
Bryan sat the kids down on the couch, all in a row, while I perched uncomfortably on a chair nearby and watched them. Matthew, our oldest, was 12. Andrew was 10, Bethany was 7, and Timothy was 4. Matthew was very mature for a 12-year-old, and Bryan was entrusting the success of the day to him. He had also called a couple of friends who would check in with the kids throughout the day, including a next-door neighbor.
He talked to the younger kids very soberly about being good, and to Matthew about taking good care of everybody. I was pretty uncomfortable at that point, but I do remember taking a moment to gaze at my precious little ones, lined up on the couch in their pajamas, trying to look brave, excited, kind of worried about the weather and their mama.
I didn’t want to leave, but Bryan helped me bundle up and waddle slowly out to the car. We made it to the hospital through the storm, though it was very slow going, and our lovely Amalia Charis was born fairly quickly after we arrived. My midwife had given me a scare, early in my pregnancy, with her worries that my baby wasn’t as big as she should have been, but my baby girl was round and plump and weighed nearly ten pounds!
The snow was really coming down by then, and finally I could lie back in the bed and admire my gorgeous baby daughter and watch the snow blowing around outside, too. It was pretty terrific. After a bit, Bryan took off to go home to fetch the kids, so he could bring them back to see their new baby sister.
It took Bryan hours to get back to our house, through the blinding, blowing snow. This was before cell phones, and I was oblivious to his struggle. I had begun to wonder why, though, it was taking my little family so long to come see the new addition.
Finally Bryan called. He was thankful that he had made it home, and he assured me that he’d bring the kids first thing the next day, that is, if the storm had blown itself out by then. I was thankful that the kids didn’t lose their dad that day.
So that is the story of how our lovely daughter was ushered into the world. It was a dramatic event, infused with gratitude from so many directions. Grateful that we didn’t get stranded on the way to the hospital. Grateful that Bryan made it home in one piece. Grateful to God for another beautiful gift. Grateful for a perfectly healthy baby, when the midwife had hinted that there was something wrong. So grateful.
I might try to draw parallels, and say that Amalia’s strong and courageous personality surely was hinted at in that stormy day that she was born. Like the thunder snowstorm that she was born in, she is strong and determined and unique and beautiful. I could say that there is nobody else like her, and that I love her dearly and appreciate her completely.
I could say all that.
But first, I’ve just got to say: Happy birthday, dear Amalia!