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Hardman: Happy Birthday to My Daughter

Twenty years ago today, my daughter entered this world and my life.

She hates it when I write this column.

My daughter turns 20 Sunday and her stepmother turns, well, we're not going there. Two of my favorite girls share the same birthday.

My wife and I found this fact out early in our relationship. It was a balancing act when they were younger, but that's changed. My daughter is a sophomore in college, so she's staying with her friends this weekend. My wife gets the birthday on the day, and my daughter will be home in a couple of weeks, so I'm writing about her today.

Katie is looking forward to a big weekend with her college friends, but I'm taking it personally.

I think she's just avoiding my yearly tradition of talking about her birth. Katie has heard the story for 19 years, because it's one of my favorites.

I could try telling the story on the phone, but I know she would make an early exit off the phone when I started to ramble on, so I'm using this forum to tell it this week.

So, sorry Katie, but here goes.

She was my firstborn, and I wrote a diary-type column of going through the birth processing from the first doctor's appointment to the actual birth, even hosting a baby pool.

It became a big deal in our hometown, so much so that our local store posted the announcement of her birth on their sign in the window.

Unknowingly, I had turned my daughter into a celebrity before she was even born.

On what we thought was going to be the big day, her mother and I rushed to the hospital. I was a total wreck. I was racing through the hospital when a firefighter friend of mine stopped me and asked what was going on.

"I'm having a baby," I answered.

He replied, "You're fat, but you're not pregnant."

My daughter was a stubborn birth, and we were actually in the hospital for a couple of days before she made her arrival.

It was in the middle of a snowstorm, so the staff was shorthanded, and some of the fathers were having trouble getting to the hospital. I was drafted to help out with wheeling the babies while Katie was delaying her arrival.

Finally, the big night came, right after “Jeopardy!” "Which first lady was given free postage for life?" was the last question I remembered before being left in a room to change into a cap and gown for the arrival.

Nervous, pacing, I walked back and fourth, really sweating and almost having a panic attack. Fortunately, I was brought into the room to hear and see the delivery.

It was awesome.

After she screamed and was cleaned up, I was given my daughter to hold for the first time, while her mother recovered. I couldn't believe it, and I didn't what to do.

She was wide-awake and her mother was exhausted. I wheeled Katie around the maternity ward, talking a mile a minute. I had a daughter, and she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.

A couple of hours later, I was kicked out of the hospital so the girls could get some sleep. Outside, there was about 2 feet of snow and I couldn't find my car which, unfortunately for me, was white and blended in. After a half-hour in the cold, I found it and dug myself out.

Usually, that would have brought out a slew of swear words, but not on that night. All I could think about was my beautiful daughter.

Now she's not a little girl anymore but a woman, and every time she has a birthday, I still think back to the day she was born.

I know she doesn't want me to write about or tell the story every year, so sorry Katie, but Happy Birthday anyway.

Oh yeah, the answer to the “Jeopardy!” question was: "Who is Jackie Kennedy?"

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