… at this very moment, I was probably getting my vital signs taken, and the nurse was furrowing her brow. I had a fever–I’d said all night I did–and I was officially on infection watch. Which meant suffering through the fever for a full hour to ensure that the temperature would keep going up, not down, and that I did, indeed, have an infection, and that they’d have to perform a C-section to extract the baby who’d wanted to leave a week earlier, 9 weeks before her due date.
They were on Infection Watch. I was on Get This Baby Out Of Me Watch.
I don’t have to go into all the gory details–longtime readers know the whole story–but I’m compelled to share it because every year, my mother calls and tells me where she was and what she was doing 34… 35… 36 years ago. Fortunately for my girls, they have terrifically dramatic stories, so they can compete for Who Almost Died The Most. I hope they have a good time of it, because they’re not getting any more siblings from me.
On to the fun stuff: It’s Pi Day. Also known as March 14, also known as Baby Gilli’s birthday. (That’s a soft G. NOTE: After some discussion we have decided to change the nickname spelling to Gilli-with-an-i. That is all.) Little Gillian James started out as a teeny preemie, with a perfect little face, a full head of spiky hair, and hands still red from the newness of her skin.
She was the star of the NICU, remarkably healthy and robust, and would even grant a little grin to whomever would stroke her cheek the right way. That little grin–which my friend calls “Grinchy”–has won her fans everywhere from the hospital to the park to the old ladies on the street, who can’t help but exclaim, “Look at that SMILE!”
It’s good that she’s so charming, too, because she’s also a little like a Cornish pixie. She’s a tiny little thing, with 9-month sleepers fitting her from top to tail but sagging on her like muumuus. But she’s quick. And into everything. And sometimes, I suspect, she has extendable arms, and that possibly there is more than one of her, that when they performed the C-section they found a second baby in there and didn’t bother telling me.
A common morning sounds like this:
“Dang it, Gilli! You spilled my coffee. Let me get these paper towels to clean it–wait! How’d get to the top of the steps? Come back here. Now let me finish cleaning–don’t pull the outlet cover out of the wall! OK, now I have to clean the coffee–right, just stay there. Good girl. Why is she so quiet? HOW’D YOU GET TO THE TOP OF THE STEPS SO FAST?”
And she cheerfully grins, and then sticks the outlet cover in her mouth, just to prove that not only is it useless for its original purpose, but it’s a chokable, too.
She has no fear. She bangs her head six times a day, at least, and only cries if it’s a really good knock. She’s like a little mouse, tiny and quick, and you see movement from the corner of your eye, and then ZIP! She’s gone.
She makes up for her mischief, though, in spades. In fact, she could make up for just about everything with what we’ve started calling the Gilli-Kiss. I don’t know when or why started doing it, but if you’re holding her and say, “Gillian, give me a kiss,” she leans forward and very softly touches her forehead to yours. It’s the sweetest thing I’ve ever experienced and just steals my heart anew every time.
Speaking of whom, Gillian’s favorite person is not me or her father, of course, nor is it Pappy or Grammy or anyone else she’s ever met, because it’s all about Eliza. And Eliza, thank heavens, is all about Gillian. (Well, most of the time.) I knew I’d love having two little sisters toddling around, side by side, but I didn’t know how gratifying it would be to watch their relationship deepen and develop. Yesterday, when Eliza saw Gillian’s birthday present wrapped up, she thought it was for her. When she was told it was Gilli’s birthday tomorrow, she promptly began mixing her bowl of granola with a spoon, and told us she was making Gilli’s birthday cake.
Happy birthday, my little pixie-peanut.