Sunday, March 1, 2015

Community Blog #4 Memoir: Are You Excited?

October 1994

The day she was born was such a blur. I was only eight years old and was picked up from school by a family friend. My memory of that day always starts there, at the unusual occurrence of Mrs. Ronald picking me up and getting to spend the afternoon with my friend Jacqueline.

Everyone kept asking me if I was excited that my sister was going to be born. I nodded my head yes as if I really was excited. But honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect, or what to be excited about.
Isn’t that how most of life goes? We constantly ask people if they are excited about upcoming birthdays or life changing events such as graduation, marriage, traveling, etc. But we have no clue what is in store, and yet we all enthusiastically say “Yes, I can’t wait.”

Maybe we are all just excited for change.

I was brought to the hospital late at night and was directed by my father through the maze of hallways. I had never seen my father so elated so I too ran through the halls trying to keep up with his 6’4 frame. I frantically searched for my mother’s room like an Easter egg hunt. He finally said here we are and as I walked in, my eyes could only see the blood.

A hospital worker was quickly mopping but it was too late. I saw the blood and the look of horror on my face made my mother quickly ask if I was ok. I tried to play it off as if I expected that sort of thing. But let’s be honest, I was eight years old. I had no clue how babies really entered the world. I can only imagine the look my mother gave my father, because I was shortly whisked away to meet my new baby sister.

Somewhere along the way I was given a “Big Sister” pin. It was rather large and pinned too high so that the top part kept itching along my chin. I wouldn’t take it off though. I think I was still in shock from the room.

A small cart was wheeled into the family waiting area and a sleeping baby was in it. My dad choked back tears as he said, “This is your baby sister, Andrea.”

Blame the shock, blame my age, or blame my father’s melodramatics but in that moment, I didn’t feel a thing. This baby didn’t seem familiar at all. I didn’t feel emotionally attached nor did she reach for me like I thought she would. She just slept and barely moved her eyes open.
When I anticipated having a baby sister, I imagined her smiling and cooing at me like babies do on TV. I thought she would begin to cry and I would proudly say, “Let me hold her” at which point my exhausted parents would hand her over and look on in amazement as she instantly went to sleep. I would be the eight-year-old baby whisperer. People would know she was my sister as we would look alike and be inseparable. Her first word would be my name and I would wheel her out of the hospital in a stroller where she sat upright, smiling.

At this point, you clearly know that none of these things happened.

But I will say that my life changed completely from that day forward. It took me twenty years to finally understand how exciting that day truly was. Maybe that is why we ask people if they are excited, because we know that twenty years from now, they will realize the magnitude of these life events.

Maybe we should just start saying “One day, you will realize how exciting this all is.” 

I think the eight year old me would have loved to hear that.


  1. Once you said “baby whisperer” I could not stop laughing. I am still laughing as I type this. What a great memoir about life! This is not a memoir to be read on the surface, because you go much deeper than that and hopefully to all that read it, catch it. “This baby didn’t seem familiar at all.” This is the truth of life. We can’t be excited about something we are unfamiliar with. Excitement grows as we learn, as we have something to compare it to or see the potential is brings. Expectations to the unknown bring a numbing sensation. We are told we should feel something, but we don’t and I love that you bring this unspoken element of life into reality. What’s even better is you used the birth of your sister to teach a lesson that adults should learn. We should be letting our kids know that feelings can form later about something that happened in the past, once there is a greater understanding of the event. While being an older sibling is not going to have universal appeal, the underlining meaning to the story should.


  2. I really loved your memoir. I think your sense of voice was very developed. I really liked how the author was disappointed when the baby was born. It's the opposite of what you would expect to hear but based on the writing, it feels real and authentic.

  3. Nice development of voice and content. Minimizing what you share helps readers focus on some of the key dominant images.