Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Happy Birthday to My Daughter, Keicha

Today is my oldest daughter's birthday.
I wrote this on a private family blog a few years back.
I am republishing it here.


I have been thinking of the day you were born and some other events surrounding your first years all day. The day you were born was a Sunday, so you are a "Sunday's child, full of grace." 
Keicha about six months old

I was reading about Abraham Lincoln the summer that I learned I was expecting my second child. I bought a red dress that I loved just before I learned I was expecting. It was a cotton dress with a red and white design. It had a Nehru type collar and was quite short - a mini-skirt of sorts. I had it on July 20, 1969, when your dad, Ryan, and I went to Grandma and Grandpa Christiansen's to watch the landing on the moon. I remember thinking that my great grandfather had been in the Civil War, and that now I was expecting my second child and watching someone walk on the moon. It was all surreal.

The day before you were born, I went to town while your dad was "at army" to get some diapers, a few other things, and a nightgown that buttoned down the front, just in case I actually went into labor the next week. I believe you were due on January 26th. Since Ryan had been born overdue, I did not think you would arrive on your due date. The night gown I bought was a short hot pink silky type number. The collar, cuffs and buttons were made of a darker hue of hot pink satin. It was really more of a robe, but I needed something I could unbutton so I could nurse my expected child. The nightgown became one of your favorite things and long after it was worn out, you would carry it around with you. Was it the silky feel of the fabric or the hot pink color that you liked? I remember you also loved to wear the gown. It was quite pretty! Perhaps that is when you first began to to be attracted to retro clothing.
One year

Anyway, back to the story - on that Saturday evening before you were born when your dad got home from army, your dad, Ryan and I began to drive through heavy fog out to a new home that Clayton and Debbie had rented. Was it in Harrisville or Plain City? I don't remember. We had been invited over to have chili with the family. It was a cold, foggy, miserable night. We had a hard time finding our way, and then on top of that, we got a flat tire. Your dad got out to change the tire and the car fell on him and hit his head. We arrived at Clayton's with your dad holding a bloody handkerchief to his head. It was determined at some point, that he need to go to the hospital to get a few stitches. When we got there, he was somewhat ignored because the ER people all thought I was there to have a baby.

The next day, your dad went off to "army" while I settled in to type a paper for him that was due the next day. In those days, I really don't remember what we used for a typewriter, but I would think it was my portable that I had taken to college. What ever it was that we used, was a pain in the butt, but it was what we had. Your dad would write out his papers by hand, and I, his chief editor, would literally cut and paste paragraphs to a piece of paper so that it was in the order I thought it should be. He would add his additional thoughts and corrections and by the time a paper was ready to be published, it was pretty hard to read and follow.

Dressed in my old one-piece "lounging suit" of green fabric that was literally bursting out the seams in the stomach area, I sat down and began to type. When your dad came home at lunchtime, I told him that I really didn't think he should go back. About 1:00, I began to have some pretty good contractions. Feeling the pressure of the paper that was due, I pretty much was really in denial of the imminent delivery and thought that resting would help my symptoms go away. I went back to the typewriter after a while. I then went back to bed. Finally, at about 2:00 I told your dad that I thought we should call Dr. Farr. My pains really were a minute or two apart. Really. I was not exaggerating.

Finally, I think it was about 2:30, reality and nudge from the doctor set in, and we began to make plans to get me to hospital. Did Irene Smith, our upstairs neighbor and landlady, come down and get Ryan until Grandma Chris could get him? I don't remember now. I just wanted your dad to get me to the hospital. We got there at 3:00 p.m. and at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, January 25, 1970, you were born. I was thrilled beyond measure to have daughter I always wanted.

Your father's paper was not finished for a while. He finished it as some point while I was in the hospital. He also was caring for Ryan and the landlords were painting the apartment, so it must have been a fun time for him.

Perhaps the traits that would always typlify you were evident at your birth: 1) you were a day early; 2) you were a very easy delivery - three hard pushes and you were here; 3) impatient to wait on others, you were delivered by Dr. Monson because Dr. Farr, hurrying to the hospital from Salt Lake, got there about half an hour or so after your arrival.

At 6 lbs. and 1 oz. (I think), and 18 inches long, you were my smallest baby. I would feel as if I was rolling up your nightgown forever looking for your tiny legs when I would change your diaper. You needed doll clothes because newborn clothes were way too big for you. I had to make all kinds of folds in the cloth diapers that you wore to get them to fit. You wore size 2T dresses as tops until you started school I think. You have always been petite.

In a letter written to my folks on February 25, 1970, I said some of the following:

"Kiecha is a month old - she went in for 1st check-up today and weighs 8 lbs and 6 oz and is 21 in. long." She really is getting cute tho with her fat little face even her skinny legs are getting some meat on them."

Later in the same letter, but dated Mar 2, I wrote, " Well Ryan and Keicha are in bed so maybe I can finish this. Note the spelling in Keicha's name. Yesterday Barry blessed Keicha and put the spelling down this way on Church records. He said he decided it was better that way. I made her a cute little dress for the occasion. It's sorta like the one I had on my baby doll - long with a yoke + round neck + puff sleves. I put cotton lace around the neck, the bottom of the yoke + the skirt." I did make the dress to look like the one my doll wore, and I didn't use a pattern. It really wasn't success, not what I wanted at all, and by the time I finished it the night before you were blessed, it was too tight and I could hard get you in it.

Ryan adored you. He would try to get your attention all the time. He loved to make you laugh. Right after you were born, I found his beloved blue truck in your crib next to your head. He said he just wanted you to have it in case you woke up.

As I recall, your first recognition that rebus (well maybe not rebus but representation of print on a page) had meaning was when you were still crawling and you found a mimeographed copy of music somewhere in the house and began to sing. I thought you were a genius because you understood that print had meaning.
Keicha in her favoriete dress
She had to have the ribbon tied in front so she could see it.

You were such a beautiful little girl - all girl - right from the get go. The only time you disappointed me when I got you all dressed up was when you chewed and slobbered on your green underskirt of the beautiful dress I had dressed you in for church while I was getting ready to go. It was all wet, crumpled and ruined, and I had to change your clothes before we left. Since the dress was to be hand washed with no wringing, it was forever ruined by your chewing on it with your slobbery gums!

Keicha & Sally
Keicha & Sally 2010

You and me and your siblings
Julie, Keicha, Mom, Jonathan, Amy, Ryan

There is so much more that I could say...For today, I just wanted to put down some very early memories of you, my precious daughter.