Happy Birthday JJ We Wish You Many More

On birthdays when they were young I'd tell my children the story of their arrival. Eliza's will always be that she is the first and thus the most miraculous, plus the TV repairman arrived in the Anchorage hospital room right at the height of that first shocking labor. Sarah's story includes the record breaking blizzard and is set in the Haines clinic with Dr. Feldman attending in his boots.  By the time Christian was due the Haines clinic stopped delivering babies, along with most rural clinics in our region, so I had to spend a week in Juneau prior to his birth, which became part of his story, but there's more than setting and plot to make something worth sharing. He arrived at 8 AM on a sunny May day right on his due date and hasn't been so predicable since. Stoli, the youngest, has the most dramatic story since hers features divine intervention and an epic journey to Bulgaria.  

JJ was born six weeks late. ( Or so the re-creation goes, obviously her mother has math issues, and I was sent to Juneau early as well, just in case.) It rained every day from Sept. 1 to Oct. 16 while I waited in  the capital alone for what I assumed was her imminent arrival, and my husband and three young children stayed home in Haines. It was awful. 

Twenty three years ago ultra-sound exams weren't as accurate as they are today, and the few I had due to concerns about the timing of the pregnancy had indicated JJ was a boy. Turns out her hands were tucked between her legs. James Joseph Fitzpatrick became Joanna Jeanne. 

When my husband came down to Juneau to visit me some weekends, the children stayed with Don and Becky Nash. At a Mexican restaurant the night before Chip was scheduled to fly home-- again, I ate a lot of jalapenos and seriously considered taking a swig of castor oil later as I'd heard the stomach disruption could trigger labor. Our doctor and his wife sat at a nearby table. On my way to the bathroom I asked if he'd induce me. He said he'd consider it if I promised not to have the baby that night as it was their anniversary. 

My water broke at midnight.

JJ arrived a few hours later with a : "How is he doc?" from my husband, followed by: "Just fine-- except he is a she." We shipped out for home when JJ was still damp. It was snowing when the ferry docked, and we rushed the new bundle right over to the Nashes so we could all be a family again. The house was dark but there were lights in Don's shop. I stayed in the truck with the baby while Chip retrieved the kids. They wouldn't leave. There was a dead bear in there that Don was skinning. I can't recall how the bear got there, but I remember that the  kids were more interested in it than the baby.

I know for certain that was the first and last time any of us was not happy to see JJ. She promptly became an endless source of good cheer and delight and grew into the most considerate member of our family.

Don's been over watching the Fall baseball games, since he doesn't have TV. When he heard JJ's birthday was coming up, he said, "I remember when she was born. There was a bear in the shop, right?"

 I love that we have friends who have known my children all their lives. As for the other part of JJ's birthday story, that very tardy arrival, she has been early ever since. So early, and so organized, that Auntie JJ has already invited us all to Thanksgiving dinner at her place in Juneau.

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