This is a special week in our family history. Our first two of four daughters were born within two days of each other (in different years, of course) this week. The firstborn came on October 12; the second born came on October 14.
I was in the middle of teaching a history class at Upper Bucks Christian School in Sellersville, Pennsylvania, when a message came from the office that my wife, Connie, was ready to go to the hospital. The administrator quickly found a substitute for me, and I sped to my wife’s side, fully expecting her to be in the throes of labor and approaching the delivery point. Instead, I found her leisurely showering and in no great hurry.
We arrived at Grandview Hospital in Sellersville (the same hospital, by the way, in which Connie had been born) about 11:30 a.m., and Rachelle Joy arrived–by Caesarian section–24 hours later after a prolonged labor during which a natural delivery proved impossible. Because the medical personnel had planned for a natural delivery and had not yet decided to take the baby, the nurses had prepped me to enter the delivery room with Connie. I was decked out in the full, required delivery garb for expectant fathers: the pale blue pajama suit, hat, mask, and booties.
Because Connie was under general anesthesia for the Caesarian, however, I was not allowed to enter the delivery room. Instead, I was consigned to sit in those hospital pajamas on a bench outside and around the corner from the delivery room. And I waited. My mind was numbed by the sudden realization that I stood on the cusp of fatherhood, and lack of sleep befuddled my brain. I was in a thick mental fog when the attending OB-GYN came out and shook my hand.
“Congratulations!” he said enthusiastically. “It’s a girl!”
He was soon followed by the anesthesiologist, who said, “Congratulations–it’s a boy!”
I remember thinking, A boy? Twins! We don’t have a boy’s name picked out! Now what are we going to do?
Then the attending pediatrician exited the delivery room.
“Congratulations! You have a healthy little girl!”
And I wondered, Triplets?! But what about the boy? Does his not mentioning him mean that something’s wrong?
Now I was confused. And that’s how I seem to have been ever since, especially after two more daughters were born to us over the next several years. I’m a lone male among five females.
When Connie was expecting our second child, the doctor told Connie that a natural delivery was unlikely, so she opted for another Caesarean, as all four deliveries ended up being. That gave us some control over when Elissa’s birthday would be. Should it be the same day as Rachelle’s? That would allow us to have the celebrations on the same day–less mess, less bother, and only one date for me to remember.
But Connie wanted each child to have her own special day. So we opted for delivery to be scheduled for two days after Rachelle’s birthday, on October 14.
Compared to Rachelle’s birth, Elissa Cheri’s was much more laid back–no stress of rushing to the hospital or getting a sub for my classes. It was all planned in advance. But it was no less special.
Now, three decades and more later, Elissa has two young children of her own–Regan and Morgan. Rachelle is due to deliver her first child, Ryleigh, in a couple of months. Connie and I are relishing the season of life called grandparenthood. And thank the Lord for Skype because all of the grandchildren are scattered from Wisconsin to North Carolina and points in between.
As a historian, dates are important to me. (Unfortunately, I seem able to recall dates of long-past events more readily than more recent dates.) But few dates are as important to me personally as October 12 and 14, when God gave us the first two of our four daughters.
But God gives not only joy but also abundant joy. A few years later, He gave Rachelle and Elissa playmates when Tisha and Stacy were born. Then we thought our joy was complete.
“But wait! There’s more!” God seemed to say. And He began to give us grandchildren. First McKenzie, then Cameron and Regan. Next, Parker and Morgan. And soon Ryleigh. October 12 and 14 was just the introduction to the ongoing story. Now
Happy birthday, Rachelle and Elissa! (See what you two started?)