Tomorrow is my birthday.
I’ll save a philosophical post on that subject until then, but today I’ll share a story about another birthday. This story will be filed into the “Of Course That Happened To Me” category, which occupies a disproportionate amount of my anecdotes.
Scene: Turks and Caicos, January 2010. This resort.
I was so excited for this trip! We’d decamped to the frigid Midwest a year and a half earlier, and that time had been filled with starting my new Fancy Lady Doctor job, studying for my specialty boards, acclimating to the subzero temps (Ok, that is not possible), finding a daycare for toddler MGM, settling into a new house and new routines, making new friends, and, oh! Yes. Having another baby, Miss Trixie.
We hadn’t totally come up for air yet when the trip arrived, but we were ready to have some fun. The fact that my 37th birthday was rolled into that week was a bonus, but it didn’t get planned that way. Ever Patient Spouse’s parents accepted our invitation to come along as unpaid babysitters. We were set.
[Now, some of you may already be mocking our sanitized Caribbean vacation at a resort that features Sesame Street characters. Too bad. Did you see the part about it being all-inclusive with free premium booze? Yes, this is a parents-with-toddlers dream come true].
The trip down was fairly successful. I only give it a “fair” rating since we had to get up at 2 AM and drive through a blizzard – stuck behind a snow plow traveling 30 MPH – for 3 1/2 hours to reach the airport. Once airborne we barely made our tight connection in Atlanta, where MGM also almost got us arrested for a hate crime by pointing to a man who appeared to be a Muslim cleric and loudly declaring him to be Santa Claus. (MGM: “Santa! I see Santa! Santa, come here, Santa!” And this is coming from a kid who spoke so infrequently at that point that we had him tested for a speech problem. Spouse and I were mortified). Also, have you ever had two kids under the age of three on a lengthy international flight? It’s not pretty. There are ill-timed diaper events, spills, stains and other unpleasantries. I digress.
But we made it. The resort was gorgeous. The air was warm. The white sand beaches led into the blue, blue water. Our suite was stocked with a full bar and had separate kid quarters. Bliss.
Then this happened: Night one, we’re eating dinner at one of the resort’s restaurants and Spouse said, “I’m not joking. I think I just saw Pat Sajak walk by.” And he was right; “Wheel of Fortune” was filming at the resort that week. Vanna sightings became routine. My father-in-law was in heaven.
But then this happened: We were exhausted, and I may or may not have had a bit of wine. After all of the driving, the flying, the lack of sleep the night before, the airport stress, and the general tension that family vacations bring, we all collapsed into sleep the first night.
Except Trixie. She was fussing. Inconsolable. Shrieking. Febrile. Miserable. We didn’t know it yet, but 3 months later, she’d be hospitalized and ultimately diagnosed with celiac disease, but in retrospect this was probably the beginning.
I crept into the kids’ room and brought her into our big bed. She sat up, got mad, and forcefully threw her head backwards.
What happened next was described by Spouse as “the sound when two melons collide.”
Her hard little head made perfect contact with my eye socket. She started to cry. I started to cry. It really hurt.
Me (speaking to Spouse): “Does my eye look bad? Please tell me it’s not bad. Is it bad? Can you see anything?”
I knew it must have been really, really bad when he told me to just go and look in the mirror.
Within seconds, something that looked like a ripe plum had grown under my right eye. It was the shiner to end all shiners.
For the rest of the week, Spouse got a lot of unwarranted dirty looks from fellow resort goers, while I wore sunglasses even at night and explained over and over that the real perp in this case was, in fact, a 1 year old girl.
Funnily enough, I also did not get selected to compete on “Wheel of Fortune.”
P.S. This mimosa really helped my eye. Also, Vanna White is in the background inside that cabana!
P.P.S. MGM and Trixie way back then: