Your birth changed all our lives, and in a good way. Thanks for coming along, even if your coming was a bit more exciting than I'd have liked.
Memories of that day: I'd been hospitalized for two weeks at that point, the goal being to put off your birthday long enough for your lungs to mature. That morning the doctor performed another amnio to check your progress. Having an amnio involves some extensive sonogramming, and when you turned towards the beam, the doctor and I got a clear view of your face. (This is commonplace now, but seventeen years ago, not so much.) We both started squealing (she was, besides being the doctor, a pregnant woman), and our racket apparently startled you so that you immediately wriggled away. But for a minute there we saw you, and you were gorgeous.
I'd always had the idea that in a c-section, the baby popped right out through the incision, sort of like a grape popping out of a skin. Ha. This was so wrong - and particularly in your case. I believe there were at least three sets of hands fishing around in my belly trying to get a grip on you. You, independent from the start, did such a good job of burrowing away from them that they finally had to use a suction cup on your head to pull you out.
In person, you were just as gorgeous, although I didn't see it right away. When I first saw you, I thought, 'Huh. It's just another baby.' When people told me you were pretty, I assumed they were being polite. After all, has anybody, anywhere, ever said, 'Well, that baby doesn't look like anything special,' to the child's mother? It wasn't until you were about a week old, and we were having lunch at Chili's, and the waitress burst out, 'Oh, wow! What a beautiful baby! You must be so grateful!' that I began to wonder if you might actually be pretty cute. I asked your dad if that was so - 'Is she pretty?' - and he said, 'She's beautiful!' And he was right.
You looked like the Gerber baby, eyelashes and all.
In my defense, my reaction was pretty typical for a new mother who really never expected to see her baby alive. Mothers caught in complicated pregnancies often disconnect a bit. Then, if the baby actually lives, they need a few more days to bond than usual. But we did bond, and pretty soon I was a typical, 'Look, she's more perfect than any other baby in the world!' kinda mom.
Last memory: this one I had to get second hand, because I was drowsing in the recovery room while this was going on. You had been whisked off to the nursery. Eldest Daughter and Middle Kid were waiting outside the nursery window to see you, and the nurse (who was the mother of one of MK's school friends) obligingly showed you off to them. Then she did all the usual stuff that newborns need and put you in an incubator to warm you up. She had other babies to tend to, so she moved off to check on the others, and you started squawling at the top of your lungs. ED was outraged that you'd been left alone, and naked! She began tapping on the window, shouting so she could be heard through the glass: 'My sister is naked! She doesn't like it! Put a diaper on her!'
I heard this story many times over, from your Dad, ED, MK, and from the nurse, who liked to tell it when we were at school functions and she had a large and appreciative audience for the tale.
So. Happy seventeenth, baby girl.