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26 April 2005

It's My Birthday!


On April 26, 1969, I was born at 7:15 in the morning, 1 month after my due date. My mother had a C-section because, according to her, I was happy where I was and in no hurry to be born. I was the first appointment of the day, she says. Apparently, I arrived with a full head of hair; maybe I grew that during my extra time in the womb, maybe I had it a month earlier - I can't say I recall. My mother said that when my grandmother first saw me, she said I had the sexiest little legs because they were long and skinny (I feel that in this day of Michael Jackson and Catholic priests, I need to explain that there was nothing salacious in my grandmother's comment. It was more of a "You go, girl," type of comment).

That's all I really know of my birth. My mother's not the type of woman to make maudlin comments like, "The first time they put you in my arms I never knew I could love someone so much," or any such treacle. I have no doubt she loved me the minute she saw me - she's my mother, after all. Since I was a C-section birth, though, she was unconscious, I'd imagine, so I'm not sure how long I was hanging out before she awoke. Did my dad see me first? Was he at the hospital? I think back in 1969, men weren't necessarily present. Was I just hanging out in some crib in the nursery for a few hours? Did a nurse hold me for a while? Did I get the necessary human contact for healthy newborns? I certainly don't remember, and if I've ever asked, I didn't get any information that was satisfying enough to remember, and quite frankly, would my mother remember now if I asked her? After all, she had two more C-section kids (both at 7:15, the first appointment of the day) after me; I'd imagine they'd all blend together after a while. Furthermore, as I previously mentioned, my mother dislikes the effusingly sentimental, so I'd prefer to spare her the inquisition.

All of the speculation of my first morning, however, gave rise to my switched-at-birth scenario, which I began entertaining at an early age. Growing up, I didn't look like either parent, nor did I look much like any of my extended family. My family is very Irish-looking: blue or green eyes across the board with blond hair. My siblings both look like my parents and each other. In my sister, we saw the eyes of my father and the build of an aunt; my brother looked much like my mother and was able to easily use the fake id of a cousin when he was 18. My mother was asleep, I thought, so the nurses could have put me down but forgot to mark my crib properly. Everyone makes mistakes. I'm certainly not at my freshest at 7:15 am. Then, I imagined, the nurse who was there for my delivery went on a coffee break right before my mother woke up, so another nurse, who needed to present my mom with a newborn lickety-split grabbed any old kid (that's me), and no one knew the difference. I imagined that there was some fair, green-eyed infant given to surprised Italian parents, who named her Gina Macaroni. I'm not making this up. I mean, of course I made this up in the past, but this is what I really came to believe by the age of ten or eleven. It was around then that I heard that the hospital I was born in went out of business. How does a hospital go out of business? Perhaps by switching too many babies. To appease me, my parents assured me that the only other baby born at that hospital on April 26, 1969, was a boy. I wondered if the little tow-head, Gino Macaroni, liked spaghetti as much as I did, or if he was more of a potato-man? I hated potatoes! The fire was stoked in 6th grade science class when we studied genetics: a parent with blue eyes and a parent with hazel eyes will not be as likely to have a brown-eyed child, especially if none of their parents had brown eyes. I know now that there are more variables than this, but from this, I concluded that I knew the truth.

I spent my third year of college in Italy where I fit in perfectly, except for my nasal Chicago twang. I ate pasta every day, I enjoyed the concept of the siesta, and became an avid wine drinker. It wasn't until after I graduated from college that I truly abandoned the switched-at-birth story. It upset my mother whenever I brought it up (the truth hurts?), and I admit that I brought it up quite a bit. I started noticing minor resemblances between my mother's face and mine, and as I get older, I see more and more. Also, I do like potatoes now (and beer), and as I've aged, my dark brown, almost black eyes are more of a greenish hazel.

Just in case, Happy Birthday, Gino Macaroni, wherever you are!

I'm not upset about turning 36; in fact, I'm happy to be here! I'd be lying if I said that getting older didn't freak me out a little bit, but I'm not dreaming about being 23 again, either. The 0 and 5 birthdays (30, 35, 40, 45, 50, etc.) are big deals that fill souls with angst; the 1s and the 6s, however, are more retrospective. When I turned 30, I felt like I had landed on the moon. At 31, though, I felt as if I walked on the moon. Turning 35 made me think,"Ok, my youth is officially over." I teach college kids, but I no longer resemble them in style or attitude as I did when I started teaching. I've come to terms with that, but today, I wonder what to do with that information. This year I will try to celebrate my continuation. I will remember past lessons learned and use them as I go ahead in life. I know, I know. I, too, wonder if Gino Macaroni is less emotionally silly!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Happy Day!!

-gina (Kalloch not Macaroni)

2:44 pm  
Blogger TaB said...

Happy birthday too yoooo..
So that’s how 35 makes you feel huh? im a stones throw away.. Gulp!

i was a morning baby too 6.20.am

lots of changes here, page looks fab!

2:30 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, belated happy returns!

I had to post, because I stumbled on your post almost by accident and note that we were born not only on the same day, but just a few minutes apart.

I share your concerns at reaching the grand old age of 36 but as there's precious little we can do about it let's look on the bright side, eh? (Bright side? Er, yes ... cheap insurance ;-) )

Anyway, good to have found your blog!

Best wishes

Mark Lewin
Oxford, England

9:13 am  

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