My children were born exactly 1 year and two weeks apart, my daughter being the eldest as well as the first grandchild on both sides. After having spent the first year of her life being the center of her parents and her grandparents world, she didn’t embrace the idea of a new baby with the greatest of celebration. We read her books and talked about the new arrival. Although just a baby herself, she seemed to grasp that there was a change in the air, and wasn’t hesitant about showing her feelings about it.
Just out of college, my husband took a job offer in Washington state two months before my son was to be born. Not wanting to leave my obstetrician, and with a toddler in tow, we decided the best plan of action was for me to stay with my parents until he arrived. In the interim, my husband would be tasked with finding us a place to live and getting acclimated to the new area. Daddy and baby were not be officially introduced until he was six weeks old.
On paper this was a good plan. Not a great plan, mind you, but acceptable. My parents adored our little girl and it was a relief to have someone partially relieve me of the cooking and cleaning responsibilities. I was at that uncomfortable stage in my pregnancy where my feet had begun to look startlingly like inflated surgical gloves and getting up and down required assistance from someone holding a heavy equipment license. My mother, who refers to me as “her only chick”, has always been a bit of a hoverer. In truth, she makes the pilot of the Goodyear Blimp look like an amateur. I think because my father died unexpectedly at twenty-six, she worried that the same fate was going to befall me so kept one wing over my shoulder. Consequently, my being pregnant often seemed to cause her more distress then it did me. In my last month if I groaned, as I was prone to do since I was carrying around an extra human and some other weight that had signed on for the ride, she would pack a bag and start the car. Between my mother’s hovering, my daughter’s sudden need for constant reassurance and my hormonal shifts my step-father dealt by pruning his roses with his pruning shears in one hand and a stiff glass of scotch the other. Welcome to my dysfunction.
A week beyond my due date and miserable, I had begun contemplating what my survival rate would be if I leapt off the garage roof to induce labor. Nature, blessedly, took over on the eighth day and removed the decision from my hands. My first labor pain hit in the vegetable department of a local market causing me to lean on the apple bin dumping them all over the floor. “Earl, clean up on Aisle 4”. My mother, seeing me wince went into a complete meltdown sounding like a hired keener at an Irish wake. If customers in the vicinity were not already aware of the situation, my mother notified everybody on our way out that I’d gone into labor, so I was given a wide berth. (In truth at this point, I needed a wide berth.) At the checkstand she took time to stop and ask the clerk if they’d hold her groceries. Really?
Let the games begin. My daughter was dropped off at my mother-in-law’s house on the way to the hospital several hours later. After being admitted and taken to my room, where so many people lined up at the other side of the sheet to examine me that I was down to my final shred of dignity, they allowed my mother to sit with me. Labor tapered off after a while so as the baby was already one week overdue they decided to induce. Having no clue what “induced” labor involved, I agreed. I was twenty, what can I say. Inducing labor is kind of like taking the gloves off and fighting bare fisted. You don’t gently ease into the pain you are thrown screaming into the great abyss. After two hours of sweating, feeling my spine move from my back up under my ear lobes, and watching my mother pace, grimace, and squeeze my hand, I wanted drugs. Lots of drugs. Enduring each pain as though it was her own, she repeated over and over, “I wish I could have this baby for you”. In the end, I realized I felt the same way.
Two hours later my son reluctantly came into the world with some coaxing and a pair of forceps. No one was more relieved than I was. At any rate, he was here, he had all digits in the right places, and I was happy to see him. My mother had to be retrieved by my step-dad and sedated, and I was at last left alone to get some much-needed sleep. Life was good.
My daughter, after meeting her brother for the first time, showed about as much interest as if I’d been reading her a chapter from War and Peace. There was little improvement in what seemed to be a somewhat unsteady truce between my children until my son at nine months figured out that his feet had other functions besides to play with and got himself mobile. After that they were fast friends and partners in crime. Originally I wanted six children, after having two, one of each, I felt that I’d satisfied my quota.
Grilled Sea Bass and Summer Vegetables with Herb Sauce
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 scallions, trimmed and chopped
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb seasoning
In medium mixing bowl whisk together all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Sea Bass and Vegetables
1 large red sweet pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2″ strips
1 large yellow pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2″ strips
1 lb. fresh asparagus, trimmed
2 large zuchinni, cut into 1/2″ slices
2 large yellow squash, cut into 1/2″ slices
1 bunch green onions, cut to 5″ (white and green portion)
1 1/2 lbs. sea bass
3 Tbsp. olive oil, plus 1 tsp.
1 lemon, cut in half
2 Tbsp. Mrs. Dash Garlic & Herb seasoning
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. lemon pepper
Heat grill to med. high. Coat grill rack with cooking spray or light coat of oil.
In large bowl mix together seasonings except salt and olive oil. Add vegetables and toss until evenly coated. Place in vegetable grill pan, squeeze 1/2 lemon over all, and cook for 8-10 mins. stirring frequently to prevent burning.
Brush fish lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with pepper, salt and Mrs. Dash according to taste. Cook flesh side down for 5 mins. Turn and cook an additional 3 mins. or until flaky.
Remove from heat. Squeeze other 1/2 lemon over top. Serve with sauce. Serves 4.