Happy 25th to My Brown-Eyed Girl!

It was 25 years ago today, almost to the minute, that my water broke for the first time…what a strange feeling!  I was a couple months shy of my 25th birthday, and this kid was already 15 days late…I was ready to be done with being pregnant!  Most of my maternity clothes were winter ones, and Moncton, New Brunswick had been having a heat wave the previous two weeks…I only had two short-sleeved dresses that I could squeeze my swollen body into!  I mopped the mess up with a towel, and woke up Kaylee’s father to tell him the news.  Then we waited for something to happen.  And waited.  And waited…

Waiting for something to happen...


About lunch time, I walked down to the newspaper box around the corner and bought a paper, as per my usual routine.  I brought it home and read it.  Supper time came and went.  I consulted my labour coach, who suggested I call the hospital.  “Your water broke more than 12 hours ago?!!” asked the nurse in disbelief.  The memory is a little foggy, but I think she followed that with the politically correct version of “Get your ass in here!”

My labour coach, Mary Lyn, came and got us in her car…I brought along a beach towel to sit on to save her upholstery.  Once we’d arrived at the hospital, things went along pretty quickly…I was installed in the birthing room and an oxytocin drip was started intravenously to stimulate my labour.  My plan was to do everything naturally…we’d taken the Lamaze class, and I was not having an epidural!  I stuck to my stubborn plan throughout the four-and-a-half hours of hard, fast contractions…that’s what they called them in the class…sounds so much better than pain, doesn’t it?  My family doctor arrived at the critical moment, a surgical clip holding up his too-big scrub pants…the man probably weighed all of 125 lbs. soaking wet!  

Kaylee Marie was finally delivered at 11:32 p.m., all 9 lbs., 14 oz. of her.  She was 22 inches long, and had a mop of dark hair…her paternal grandmother’s Native Canadian heritage was evident in her colouring (eventually, Kaylee’s eyes would be brown).  I had planned to breastfeed the baby…she latched on immediately, and stayed there for the next 18 months, pausing only to sleep about 10 out of every 24 hours.  I perfected the art of dozing in our pink swivel rocker with a child attached…

Kaylee and I...two days old...

When she was 3 weeks old, I received a call from my doctor…there was a problem: Kaylee had a rare form of congenital hypothyroidism.  Luckily, they had been screening all babies born in New Brunswick for the condition for the previous ten years or so…if it hadn’t been discovered, Kaylee would have had a mental age of 4 for her entire life!  I remember taking her for her first blood tests at the hospital…I cried as much as she did when they poked a needle into my baby’s tiny heel, and filled little glass tubes with her precious blood!  The treatment for the condition was taking a synthetic thyroid hormone pill every day for the rest of Kaylee’s life.  Regular blood work every few months was also necessary to determine that the dosage was correct.  

Since Kaylee’s dad worked long hours at the radio station, I was her main caregiver…every day, we would go for a walk, often to the park nearby.  One beautiful summer day, I carried the stroller down the stairs (we lived in an upstairs apartment), and set it up outside.  I went back in to get Kaylee and the diaper bag.  Once I got the baby strapped in, I remembered that I’d left my purse sitting on the steps.  I tried to open the door…I had locked it…my keys were in my purse, inside the apartment…

There were no cell phones then, and I didn’t have any money with me.  I didn’t know my neighbours either, other than to nod as I went by…I saw one of those neighbours outside, and asked if I could use her phone to call Kaylee’s dad at work.  If you were paying attention, you might remember that I said he worked in radio…of course, he was on the air when I called.  I explained my predicament to the woman at the switchboard…she promised she would give him the message.  I don’t think I mentioned that we did not own a car, and the radio station was a half hour walk away…

I sat on our porch steps while I waited for what seemed like an eternity…there were definitely some tears shed (Kaylee cried a little bit too).  An hour-and-a-half later, we were no longer locked out of our apartment…I can’t remember if we ever went for our walk!

Kaylee got used to our walks…when she was about a year-and-a-half, I found her standing naked in our front hall, wearing only rubber boots and holding an open umbrella over her head.  “I’m ready to go for our walk now, Mom!” she announced.  After I took a picture (and put some clothes on her), we did go!

I used to buy Kaylee books all the time (this was long before I was in the book business!).  Her favourite was Peter Rabbitby Beatrix Potter…she had its text memorized and could “read” it along with me by the time she was 18 months old!  We were also frequent visitors at the library…she’s the only one of my kids who reads much now.

Peter Rabbit (photo from franshouseofdollsandtoys.com)

Kaylee did not inherit my love of bugs…she was three when she was freaking out about an insect flying around the bathroom.  I said, “Don’t worry…it’s just a fruit fly looking for an apple.”

Tearfully, she replied, “Well, give him one!”

Kaylee was in the first official kindergarten class in New Brunswick…she loved it, and her teacher, Mrs. S.  I went in every Friday afternoon after lunch to volunteer in her class…after an hour with 25 5-year-olds, I had a whole new respect for the job that teachers do!

When Kaylee started Grade 1, I put her in French Immersion, since we lived in a city where 1/3 of the people spoke French, in a province which was officially bilingual.  She was like a sponge, and was making fun of my limited French by the time she was 7!  “No, Mom…that’s not how you say it!”

When Kaylee was eight, her sister, Anna, was born…she was excited about being a big sister, but it wasn’t an easy transition for her.  She had been an only child for a long time!  I tell people that Kaylee was a “teenager” from the time she was eight…not easy for either one of us!

Kaylee, age 8...behind that innocent smile lurked the beginnings of a teenager...

Her father used to get free tickets to a lot of concerts, and when Kaylee was ten, we took her and Anna to see The Rankin Family…after the concert, we took them backstage to meet the band.  The Rankin girls made a big fuss over our kids…to this day, Kaylee and I still go to see them perform when they come to town.  Great Big Sea is another one of her favourite bands.

Kaylee inherited the bad knees that women in our family all have.  She was eleven when she was walking across our living room and fell down without warning.  A visit to the emergency room confirmed that her knee had collapsed, and that Kaylee had actually broken a one-centimetre piece off her kneecap when she fell.  They gave her a nice cast, and sent her home with crutches.  An appointment with the orthopedic surgeon was scheduled, and a few months later, he did arthroscopic surgery on both her knees to correct her “floating kneecaps.”  In Grade 7, I got a call from Kaylee’s middle school.  Her knee had collapsed again, and she had fallen down the stairs.  After another trip to the hospital, she came home with her leg encased in fibreglass…at least fibreglass was lighter than plaster!

Hope was born when Kaylee was 12…she loved her new little sister!  Kaylee was a big help with Hope when she was little…I will always be grateful to her for babysitting her two sisters while I was working (her father’s and my marriage had broken up by then)!       

Kaylee’s teenage years were not happy ones…we butted heads constantly, and she and Anna fought…a lot (I remember making frantic calls to her father in Ontario begging him to talk some sense into her!).  She was as stubborn as I am…the apple didn’t fall far from the tree!  For a while, Kaylee hosted an online radio show, and flirted with the idea of going into radio…her father worked hard to talk her out of that one! 

Kaylee as a teenager in the light of her computer screen...

Kaylee was about seventeen before she turned into a “human being” again.  She got her first job at Bulk Barn.  Working hard was good for her…she used to come home exhausted from cleaning all day, but she was happy to have her own money!

I was not happy when Kaylee decided at eighteen to get a tongue ring…luckily, her boyfriend at the time told her he didn’t like it, so she let it grow over.  I still love that boy…

That same year, Kaylee decided she wanted to move back to Moncton…she arranged to get an apartment with her best friend, and we packed up her stuff and took her up there.  Three weeks later, she called and told me that it wasn’t working out, and she moved back home again.

In December of 2006, she met Scott online on Plenty of Fish.  They were “an item” by January of 2007.  By then, Kaylee was working in a call centre uptown…she arranged to share an apartment with a friend she worked with, and moved out that spring.

Kaylee and Scott in their early dating days...

 That fall, my mother died…Kaylee was devastated…as the first grandchild, she and my mom had been close!  I didn’t have the money for plane fare to Ontario…it was Kaylee who bought two tickets for us with her credit card (I repaid her later), and helped me pack up my mother’s estate (along with my brother and sister-in-law).  When we returned, Kaylee got a small tattoo on her wrist in honour of her Gramma…

Kaylee and Gramma...Kaylee was about 5 in this picture...

Today, Kaylee and Scott are the parents of my 20-month-old granddaughter, Elise.  They have their own house about 25 minutes away, and come to see us every couple of weeks.  Kaylee is a great mom, and is perfectly happy staying home with the baby (I was itching to go back to work by the time my kids were 18 months).  She uses cloth diapers for Elise, and they’ve been teaching her sign language since she was an infant.  Kaylee has her own website promoting contests open to Canadians (she’s been entering, and winning, every contest she can find since she was in her late teens – she won a Vespa scooter a few years ago).  Kaylee loves 80’s music, and is vocal about human rights issues (homophobes had best be silent when Kaylee’s in the vicinity!).  She is also the Coupon Queen, hunting online for the best deals on groceries for her family.  Kaylee inherited my love of cooking and baking, and hates cleaning up as much as I do…luckily, Scott takes up the slack in that department!  Kaylee gets exasperated sometimes when I give her vague answers when she calls me to get my recipes!  She and Scott frequently entertain friends in their home.  Kaylee dabbles in photography and has thousands of photos and videos of Elise!

Kaylee with Elise...April, 2011

Kaylee and I are a lot closer now than we were when she was a teenager, although I often have to find out things through Facebook (like when she got pregnant, for example!).  I am proud of the young woman she’s become: smart, strong and loving!  Happy Birthday, Kaylee Marie!  I love you!


Filed under family, memories, self-discovery

67 responses to “Happy 25th to My Brown-Eyed Girl!

  1. Ah, happy birthday, Kaylee! What a lovely tribute to your daughter, Wendy – she certainly sounds like your daughter!
    Hugs from London
    Sunshine xx

  2. Wonderful tribute, Wendy. She sounds like a strong amazing young woman. How lucky you both are! 🙂

  3. Hippie Cahier

    What a heartwarming post, Wendy. Kaylee is a lovely young woman – congratulations to you and happy birthday to her.

    I can’t imagine finding out about her pregnancy via Facebook. This makes me wonder if I need to rethink my conscientious objector status to make sure I know what my kids are up to. 😐

    • Thanks, Hippie…I’ll pass on your birthday wishes! Here’s what happened with Facebook: She posted something on her status about having a Dr.’s appointment…being the kind of mother I am (“inquiring minds want to know”), I called and asked her what was up. That’s when she told me about the pregnancy! With all the kids on Facebook, it’s a good tool to find out what they’re up to… Glad you came back to Hammond River! Wendy

  4. That’s such a lovely tribute to your daughter. I hope I’ll be writing stuff like that about my kids when they’re older. Thanks for sharing that. 🙂

  5. I bet this means a lot to Kaylee, Wendy. Well done, both with this post and the amazing girl you raised.

    • Thanks, Chase…apparently I had some of the details re: timing a little off, but I think she appreciated it! We’re having cake for her and my dad tonight (his birthday is May 28th). Wendy

  6. What a wonderfully written post and tribute to your daughter. Happy birthday to Kaylee. ~ Lenore

  7. What a sweet post for your daughter. I hope she has an amazing birthday and I really hope she knows what a terrific mom she has! 🙂

  8. Pingback: These Posts Aren’t Poopy: Mullets, Brown-Eyed Girls, Botox, and Dead Animals. « Some Species Eat Their Young

  9. Jess Witkins

    Wow, Wendy. What a lovely ode to your daughter. I wish my mom blogged just to have a tribute to me. LOL. This really is a beautiful story of a lovely little girl growing up to be an independent, beautiful woman and mother. Happy Birthday to her!

  10. A beautiful tribute. And those pictures!

    Happy “Birth” Day to you, Wendy. I often think that birth is one of the before/after experiences in our lives that is positive.

    Wishing you and Kaylee another great year!

  11. jacquelincangro

    Happy Birthday to Kaylee! The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. 🙂

    My mom often jokes that when I turned 13, she suddenly became dense and when I turned 18, she suddenly got smart again. 🙂 True the world over, I bet.

  12. Aren’t we lucky to have these amazing women as daughters. I blogged about mine on her birthday in April – http://growingyoungereachday.wordpress.com/2011/04/11/happy-birthday-darling.
    Enjoy your daughter and her daughter.

  13. Good GOD- I don’t know if it’s me or you- but your post made me BOO HOO! What a sweet and wonderful post. So happy for you – and her- you raised such a wonderful woman. You’re a special mom. She’s a lucky girl with a great role model.

  14. Very nice Wendy. And I don’t know how Canada works, but in the states turning 25 means car insurance premiums drop. So here’s wishing for that too.

  15. Lovely. Its obviously Kaylee learned a lot from you when you look at the love and devotion she has for her own little girl. What an interesting daughter you raised!

    Happy Birth-day!

    • Thanks, Katybeth…as much as I’d like to take all the credit for Kaylee’s motherhood skills, Scott is an awesome dad too…they do it well together!

      I think Cole has a pretty great mom (and dad) too!


  16. What an awesome tribute Wendy!!!

  17. Jeanne Heuer

    Lovely story. Especially like those pics of you, great hair.

  18. What a sweet post, Wendy. Congratulations, and happy birthday to Kaylee!

  19. Beautiful post; your love and pride for her radiates throughout.

    Cheers! MJ

  20. Awesome post! Happy Birthday, Kaylee – you’ve been truly blessed in the Mom department.

  21. What a cute Mom you were Wendy. I didn’t allow and photos like yours when I was pregnant. Your Kaylee sounds an awful lot like my Christy. Born a teenager with a mind of her own. Happy 25th Birthday to Kaylee.

    • Thanks, Jeanne…my kids were so huge, and I was so skinny (at the time), it was quite a novelty for me to be that big! “Born a teenager” indeed…glad we both lived through it! Wendy

  22. Best of all, she now has a daughter! My mother LOVED the payback factor. 🙂

  23. She didnt become the young woman she is on her own…congrats to the both of you because she did!

  24. what a beautiful young woman you raised…I am so thankful for that test she had at three weeks! Wow…

    blessings, and thanks for sharing such a tender part of your life with YOUR brown eyed girl.


  25. I love this post — especially the story of how your daughter was born. And I love that you can recall it so vividly. Though I’m not surprised!

    I remember when my son turned one week old. I sat there, next to my husband, as we sang “Happy One Week Birthday to You,” and I teared up. In an instant I flashed back to the delivery room, and the intense moment he was born. Like I’d been jerked out of reality and straight into a memory that held me tight in its grip.

    Though a little scary, I prayed at that moment that this would happen to me on his every birthday for the rest of my life. (He’s four, and it has.) 🙂

    • Glad you liked the post, Melissa…funny, I can remember something that happened 25 years ago, but can’t remember the kids’ names when I’m talking to them…twice yesterday, I called Hope by Anna’s and then the dog’s name! Wendy

  26. Happy belated birthday to Kaylee! What a beautiful tribute to your beautiful daughter (and with a name I happen to love). It’s so nice when our girls return from the adolescent years and have become beautiful young women around 17. ♥ Diane

  27. Glad you liked the post, Diane! Somehow, I knew you liked her name…LOL! I’ll pass on your birthday wishes to Kaylee!


  28. It’s always hard when young children have to overcome health problems, but they seem to have made Kaylee even stronger. And she clearly has her priorities straight.

    Wonderful piece, Wendy. Unlike most birthday gifts, this one will last forever.

  29. This is so wonderful! What a great family you have. Kaylee has had some interesting health issues to deal with. She’s a strong young woman.

  30. Wow you have an amazing memory for detail.
    It means so much to children, and they are always our children aren’t they? when you recall these details. It’s a precious message, you matter…I know you..I see you…I’ll always remember you.
    In Afrikaans the word for hello in English is “I see you”. How important to us this is.
    I wish I had the recall you do. I try hard to remember details of my children’s early years. They love to hear any detail, and they are all adults.
    Happy birthday young Kaylee and many happy healthy more.
    Beautiful and full recollection.

    • Welcome to Hammond River, G Mom J…I’ve seen you around other blogs! I remember a lot, but unfortunately, my memory gets fuzzier the more kids I have…glad you enjoyed the post! Wendy

  31. izziedarling

    Oh Wendy, what a beautiful post! Happy Birthday to Kaylee. She’s lucky to have you for her mother. xo iz

  32. thejaggedman

    I hope when the time comes and my parents have passed that I can remember them as gracefully and eloquently as you. Enjoyed the post greatly!

    • thejaggedman

      I am sorry Wendy but I meant to post this in the “The Kilbourne Vine Caper” post. As I was typing the comment the screen flashed and I assumed it was a glitch in the machine but apparently I hit a short cut key or the like and it sent me here. You know what they say about assumption…..

    • Thanks, JM…glad you liked the post! Wendy

  33. What a wonderful snapshot of your Life with Kaylee 🙂 I know it’s very belated but please do wish her a great year ahead from me!

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