Annie Baby (I)

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Our daughter appeared to my wife in a dream about three and a half years before she was born.  Judy and I were on our honeymoon in Maine.  We had spent three soggy nights in a tent sleeping on an air mattress that slowly deflated until flat before dawn, and elected on the fourth day to seek shelter far away from our camp site.  We rented a room for one night at Higgin’s Holiday House in the town of Bar Harbor.  After washing off camping grime in a nice, hot shower and going out to dinner, we came back to our room and made love.  We fell asleep in a soft, warm bed underneath a quilted comforter, and Annie came to my wife in the form of a black haired, little girl who asked if she could be born.  She told Judy that her name was Annie.

We had decided to hold off on trying to have children until we got our educations finished, and until we were sure that our marriage was strong and sustainable.  We had gotten engaged three or four months after meeting, and married less than a year after our first date.  Judy told the little dream girl that she would have to wait for a short while.

After Judy got her Ph.D. in plant physiology and I my M.F.A. in painting, we decided to start a family.  Judy told me that she was pregnant after we had been trying for two or three months.  I had just quit a job as a line man (glorified janitor) at a tiny airport, and my initial feelings of joy and excitement were quickly pushed aside by the overwhelming urge to get another job as quickly as possible.  I ended up working third shift at a doughnut shop.

Judy suffered from morning sickness and an acute sensitivity to certain smells.  I came home from work one morning and gave her a sweet kiss as she woke up.  She looked up at me with disgust and said, “You smell like a doughnut.”  When we went to the grocery store she had to avoid aisles with products containing perfumes.  The produce section was another minefield.

She developed a pronounced attachment to a few items in our pantry, and when she discovered once that I had eaten the last bagel in the house, she woke me up, stood over the bed like an avenging angel (sans flaming sword) and said, “YOU ATE THE LAST BAGEL!”  After that I made sure that we were well stocked, and sometimes stopped on my way home from work to pick up an extra half dozen.

Annie was very active in the womb at six months and would pummel Judy’s insides with her feet.  She was contrary in that she would become active when Judy was at rest, and quiet when Judy was moving around at work.  One day we were driving in a car and Annie started to pound on Judy’s diaphragm, liver and kidneys.  Judy lurched around in her seat and shouted at me, “Do something!”  I began to loudly sing, for reasons unknown, my high school fight song (On Falcons, Victory!), and the fast pace and steady beat quieted Annie down.  When the song ended she sprang back into action, so I followed up with “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain” and “U.D., Our Hearts Ring True”.  The latter was my college fight song and had a dramatic, rhythmic beat in the middle eight bars.  I recreated the insistent blat of tubas and trombones by singing in my deepest, bass tones, “Bum bum bum bum bummity bummity bum.”  My rendition stunned the unborn into prolonged quietude, and my wife looked at me with grateful surprise.

When she was born Annie was long, lean, bluish purple and covered with blood and clear slime.  My reaction was less “Oh, The Miracle of Birth!” and more “Holy Shit!  What the Hell Just Happened?”.  The nurse cleared fluid out of her nose with a suction bulb and the doctor tickled her feet.  She began to cry and gradually turned to a rosy, pink color.  After the doctor cut the cord I gave her a bath in warm water.  A nurse toweled her off and handed her to Judy.

The doctor asked us what we were going to name her.  We hadn’t decided on a name before Judy went into labor.  I had several in mind for a girl, but Judy brought up the dream girl’s name every time we went through the list.  Judy had been in and out of labor for three days and had delivered naturally without anesthesia or pain killers.  I figured that she had earned the right of preference.  I turned to her and said, “She looks like Annie to me.”

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