Monday, February 22, 2010

In Which I Have A New Niece And It Is Fake Valentine's Day

Well! My last entry was on Friday, 2/12. As I started posting that last entry, I got a call from my sister in Aventura, Florida, whose first baby was due on 2/24. "I kind of feel like crap," she told me. "Remember how you said I'd probably know I was in labor because I'd feel like there was a bowling ball in my pelvis and I'd have really painful cramps?

I said I recalled this.

"I feel like that," she said in a woefully tired voice.

I inquired as to whether she was having contractions. She said she wasn't sure. Then she yelped and hung up on me. Whereupon I started looking for flights to Florida. Now you have to realize that as annoying as it is to try and get a last minute flight on any given day, getting a last minute flight when a week's worth of flights is still being rerouted due to Snowmageddon, it is a long weekend because of the federal holiday on Monday, and people are doing weekend getaways for Valentine's Day is near impossible. I was cheerily informed by the customer service people that I could maybe possibly get a flight out on Sunday if the stars were properly aligned and I sacrificed a virgin and a pure white goat to the dark and nefarious god of airline travel. I said I'd think about it.

I cursed my niece's timing and began throwing random items in a suitcase large enough to be a body bag. I called my parents, my husband, and my friends to let them know that plan Watch AlmondBoy and AlmondGirl was in motion. My dad started looking for flights.

In the meantime, my sister's boyfriend called to inform me that they had swung by the doctor's office and the doctor timed contractions 3 minutes apart and that he was very, very sorry to be ruining my Valentine's Day again (more on that in a moment) but his daughter was definitely ready to be born and could I catch a flight like four hours ago and also - in his words - "[your sister] is vocalizing more than is perhaps usual for her."

My dad clicked in to say he'd found a flight for me and that my mother was on her way to watch the kids and he was coming to take me to the airport. I kissed the children goodbye, grabbed my suitcase full of heaven only knows what, and went outside to meet my dad. We got to BWI where, just after I made it to my gate, I received a phone call to let me know that my niece had arrived at 12:23. I heard her crying in the background. I was so touched that they'd called me first that I alarmed my fellow passengers by whooping and making high-pitched dolphin style noises.

My sister had wanted to give birth without meds, and her boyfriend proudly informed me that she had done so, and also that it was a darn good thing that had been her plan because she went from 4 centimeters at the doctor's office to 9 centimeters by the time they checked into the hospital 45 minutes later. I boarded the plane not long after, and took advantage of my business class seat by ordering several adult beverages and also stretching my legs all the way out and pushing my toes into the the wall at the front of the bulkhead. I read Valerie Martin's Mary Reilly.

A note about Valentine's Day: My husband and I have never once had dinner together on Valentine's Day. Something has come up every single year to thwart this. I don't really mind all that much because it's a fairly bogus holiday and I am not terribly sentimental, but it's sort of aggravating that our plans get screwed up every year. Though really, it's not even aggravating at this point. It's just funny. So we traditionally end up celebrating Fake Valentine's Day, which takes place within a few days of February 14th. But anyway, this year we had something really nice planned. I had a floor length red satin evening dress. We had dinner reservations somewhere nice. And because my husband is a banker, he is off on Presidents' Day. We had made overnight arrangements for the children. We were very excited but because of our history, when I called him to say that we would be missing Valentine's Day again, he was not terribly shocked. "Really," he observed, "I feel like we probably did the restaurant a favor. You know if we had actually made it there would have been a fire or a truck would have driven through the window or something."

So in any case, I arrived at the Fort Lauderdale airport where the proud new father picked me up and drove me to the hospital. When I got to the room, my sister was there with my new niece and I am very relieved to report that she is a pretty newborn. Some aren't and one has to expound upon their dear little hands and sweet toes and brightly remark that the baby looks so alert. But this baby had a lovely round head and was a nice human color instead of looking like she'd been scalded.

My sister - as per usual - looked annoyingly beautiful. Here's me looking not annoyingly beautiful, but very happy (though exhausted from the crazy previous day) with a new little Earthling:

On Saturday I walked my husband through cooking dinner for the dinner party we had planned for the night before Valentine's Day. Reports are that he aced it.

I spent the first two days at my sister's apartment cleaning up for their homecoming, taking care of the dog, etc. There were several mishaps. Like the time I had to call a locksmith because their lock is weird and I locked myself and the dog out and discovered that they do not have a spare key. Or the time I set the smoke alarm off while teaching my sister how to make her own thin-crust pizza. I helped my sister with breastfeeding and pumping, I cooked and baked, I did laundry and took the dog out. We spent a lot of time on Skype. I got Mr. Marzipan a suit marked down from $1150 to $250.

I was christened Auntie M.

Their building is very nice (gym, pool, sauna, steam room, and - my favorite - a valet) and there is a beautiful canal that runs behind it. I liked walking under the palm trees and looking at all of the fancy boats, and watching the herons in the tall grass by the edge. I taught my sister how to use the baby sling and we all took walks. My niece seems to love fresh air. I sang The Big Ship Sails over and over for her. We took her out for a fancy dinner on Thursday, and she was a perfect lady. On Friday night, we threw a one-week birthday party for her. I cooked Shabbat dinner and made a chocolate peanut butter cake for dessert. Her daddy got to give her her first bottle of pumped milk. Because they know how practical and boring I am, they surprised me with a straightening iron I'd been coveting.

On Saturday, they dropped me off at the airport in time for my noon flight. "Now don't worry," I said. "Mom will be here in five hours." They laughed and we said our goodbyes and they took the puppy and the baby to the dog park. I went to check in for my flight which, for some reason, no one could find record of even though I had a confirmation number. I was extremely perplexed, as were they.

Until the ticket agent realized that I was at the wrong airport.

My husband had helpfully booked my return flight, but he booked it out of the Miami airport instead of the Fort Lauderdale airport. There was no earthly way I could make that flight. I called the airline in a panic and, after a few tense (and slightly hysterical) moments, they got me on a nonstop flight home six hours later. I felt awful, because my kids had been looking forward to greeting me at the airport, but this did mean that I'd get to visit some more. So, embarrassed, I called my sister and they came and got me. I baked them Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Of Guilt. I made some more pizza sauce.

Then I left for real. And when the plane landed, I realized my cell phone was dead. Kind people let me use theirs, and my dad picked me up and brought me home. When I got into the house, I saw that Mr. Marzipan had turned off the lights and lit candles all over the place. The coffee table was laid with three of my favorite cheeses, a bottle of wine, fresh berries, beautiful stone ground wheat crackers, and chocolate covered pomegranate seeds.

"Happy Fake Valentine's Day," he said.


  1. LOVE IT! And love Mr Marzipan! You two are the cutest! Congrats again, Auntie M!

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