Blue Moon

I enjoy the sky at twilight, about an hour after sunset. Tonight Venus shines brightly, the early Evening Star, the Planet of Love. On such a summer night exactly 28 years ago—when I was 28—my daughter was born.

The hospital was in chaos, and the nurses scampered hurriedly between rooms. During one brief visit to check our progress and administer an epidural anesthetic, the nurse said, “Damn these full moon nights! I don’t care what anyone says; more babies are delivered during full moons. I know it’s a fact. Your doctor will be in later because he’s got two other mothers here ready to pop. It’s going to be helluva night. Just relax. You’re not ready yet.” The mother-to-be was not amused.

I’ve learned that people are born who they are. You don’t realize it until later, but you piece it together: a smile, a look, a demeanor, a turn-of-phrase. They say people don’t change.

A half hour later the nurse came. “Nope, you’re only 8 centimeters, but you’re getting close. Doc is elbows-deep delivering Mrs. B. I’ll be back.” Down the hallway we could hear the other pregnant ones screaming. My wife’s eyes got as big as the moon. People scurried past our door, and we realized that babies keep their own schedules.

Forty-five minutes later a different nurse and a doctor arrived. Not our doctor. “Sorry, Doc is delivering Mrs. C now. He should be in soon, but, hell, another mother just checked-in. I hate this.” The stand-in doctor, a new Resident, looked bewildered and a bit frightened. The nurse said, “Damn, you’re at 10 centimeters and you’re going to deliver!” Then, to the child-Resident, “Take over here! I’ll go get Doc.” My wife loudly hollered many profanities.

Suddenly, Doc came in and said, “STOP YELLING! You’re scaring my other patients!” Then he quickly left. I never even realized I had been yelling. After five minutes, Doc came back and studied the situation. “What is going on here! This place is crazy! But don’t worry, you’re ready now. PUSH! PUSH! This baby doesn’t want to come out! Give me the forceps!” My wife PUSHED as the metal device clamped around something’s unseen skull. After 10 minutes of pulling, twisting and twisting-while-pulling, there was still no baby. The pregnant one was now resigned to deliver something hideous that was part man, part machine with a wrung neck.

Then Doc said to the Resident, “Get the scissors and cut the perineum here. HURRY!” With shaky hands, the newborn doctor approached, realizing he was being called upon to do surgery on his first time out of the chute. “Don’t worry, we need to make a small cut to enlarge the birth canal. DO IT NOW! HERE!” Doc yanked on the forceps. Then he said, “This baby is stressed. I’m going to pull like hell one more time, and if that doesn’t work we’ll have to do a Cesarean.” Resident turned green. With one mighty last pull, and in a flood of blood and guts, out came my reluctant daughter into the world. My wife’s head spun around. I puked into my own mouth. Resident changed careers.

In my wife’s room an hour later, our daughter was brought amidst a flurry of chattering nurses. She had long black hair with the family birthmark patch of white on her forehead. “We would have brought her sooner, but the nurses downstairs had to come see her. We’ve never seen a baby with so much unusual hair in two colors!” The nurse gave her to her mother. My daughter calmly opened her eyes and looked around as if deciding whether she wanted to stay and eat or to immediately start investigating her new world. We are who we are.

That night I left the hospital before the sun arrived. I looked at the sky. The second full moon of that month, a “blue moon”, glowed in the west, outshining the stars and illuminating a new, proud father.

Today, 28 years later, I still see in my daughter the person she was that night: an independent, observant, smart, lovely woman with lots of hair. Unique and rare, like a Blue Moon.

May that beautiful little girl continue to shine on brightly in you, wonderful daughter.

Happy birthday!

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