Friday, February 19, 2016

Happy Birthday Suzanne

I was in Graduate school at UCLA.  I was working at a school on campus for children with learning disabilities.  It was the Fernald School.  We several social work students all shared office space in a trailer type of structure.  One of my fellow students was married to a movie director and I recall her casually  mentioning that they were flying to Cannes for the weekend.  Sarah and I, on the other hand, were living in married student housing, conveniently located within 100 feet of the San Diego Freeway.

Our apartment was on the second floor and had crank out windows for air. Unfortunately the air was filled with noise from the freeway and as we later learned, pulverized rubber and exhaust fumes from the thousands of cars that passed near our home.

The apartments were built around a courtyard and every one in the two adjacent builidings had 1 or 2 children. We had only 1 child when we moved in, that was your sister Laura. 

Not long after we moved into the building, Sarah and I thought that it might be time to have another child.  I don’t recall it was much of a debate. We both wanted another child. 

One day, while standing in the trailer at the Fernald school, I called Sarah to enthusiastically tell her that UCLA was having a “sale” on babies.  We could have a child at UCLA for just $300 fixed price. No matter what happened it would only be $300.  There on the phone we decided to have you, Suzanne.  You were on Sale!

Sarah stayed home and took care of baby Laura.  I went off to school for my field work, first at the Fernald School and later at the VA Outpatient clinic in downtown LA.  We were using the GI Bill and a fellowship. Those two sources of income allowed Sarah not to work and me to go to school.  Pretty nice.

The income situation allowed us to perhaps go out for dinner once a month.  More frequently we took Laura in  the stroller down Sepulveda to a drug store for a 25 cent ice cream cone. That was a big treat. We really loved doing that.

As it came closer to the time for you to be born, Suzanne, I became more and more anxious about leaving Sarah alone.  Our little apartment was such that to do any kind of study or library research, I had to take a bus to UCLA. I worked mostly in the stacks of the Medical Library at the Neuropsychiatric Unit.

In order to do that, I drew on my recent education in the US Army.  In the Army (where Laura was born), I was a low ranked enlisted person, but as such I learned valuable lessons on how to work the system. While in the Library, I noticed that physicians were going to the front desk and asking for pagers.  These pagers worked deep in the stacks of the library. Of course, I was not a physician, but I knew from my Army experience, that you can easily pretend to have rank that you do not.  So each day, I would puff my self up, stand up straight and pretend to be my most assertive self. I would ask for a pager as if it was my devine right.  Shazamm! I always was handed a pager.  Then I would call Sarah and tell her how to reach me.

Finally, the pager buzzed and I headed home as fast as a bus trip in Los Angeles could get me to the apartment.  We drove our car, (yes we had an old car that we kept in a garage) to the UCLA main hospital.

This was in the days when husbands were kept away from the birth process. I could stay with Sarah right up to the moment, but then I was sent away.  They said, they didn’t want me to faint.  I complied.

When you were born, you had a bilirubin blood incompatibility that I still do not understand. However, the treatment was to tape your tiny eyes closed and to place you underneath fluorescent lights, like a little tiny plant. They took many blood samples and to my astonishment and continuing confusion your blood cleared up and after about 5 days you came home.

One of our apartment neighbors was a medical resident at the hospital and he very kindly explained that such treatment was normal and he very effectively calmed me down.

We were so ecstatic to bring you home after what seemed like a huge and scary delay.  All our neighbors came by to oooh and ahhh at our lovely new daughter.  It was a grand day. It was a bit after your birthday. It was joyous.

Happy Birthday my wonderful daughter.


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