Debra was pregnant with our second child when we moved from Louisville, Kentucky, where I had been attending seminary, to Adel, Georgia, where I was to serve as pastor of the First Baptist Church. That was in late September of 1986. We moved into the church’s parsonage at 300 Bear Creek Road. I remember one of the ladies of the church saying that it would be good to have little feet running around the pastor’s home again; it had been awhile since that was the case.
Sometime after Christmas we got busy turning the front corner bedroom into a nursery. Because of the baby’s prenatal positioning, the ultrasounds were never able to detect its gender; therefore, we painted the nursery yellow. Dr. Woodward ordered several ultrasounds because the birth was going to be by C-section and he wanted to pinpoint the due date as closely as possible. It turned out to be April Fool’s Day. We scheduled the delivery for Monday, March 30, 2007.
My Aunt Dot Abbott came down from Barnesville to stay with us while Debra would be in the hospital; we wanted someone there who could keep Joshua, who had just turned three, in his routine. We had a youth event that was led by a group of students from Mercer University at the church that weekend. Debra attended every event. On Sunday afternoon I drove her to the South Georgia Medical Center in Valdosta; this was in a primitive time when insurance companies would pay for the expectant mother to spend the night before the birth in the hospital. I was to be back at the hospital at 6:00 a.m. on Monday; I must have awakened a dozen times that night because of my fear that I would sleep through the alarm. I made it on time.
When our son had been born in Louisville, Debra was taken into the delivery room and the incision was made for the C-section before a nurse came to get me. I thought it would be like that in Valdosta. I was wrong. The nurse did come to get me, but as I approached Debra, Dr. Woodward said, “OK, let’s get started,” and he had a scalpel in his hand. I stared lovingly into my wife’s face.
The baby was delivered feet first and bottom side up. They had a little difficulty getting the baby’s head, which was the last part of its body to emerge, out. I got a little concerned. So I was very happy and relieved when success was achieved and the baby was handed to Dr. Anderson, our pediatrician, who was there for the delivery. Debra said, “What is it?” and I replied, “I don’t know.” Once I saw it had a head I wasn’t interested in any other anatomical features. The nurse said, “It’s a girl.” I’m sure Debra heard, but I repeated it nonetheless: “It’s a girl.”
She was and is beautiful. We named her Sara Katherine, after her grandmothers.
Later I visited her in the nursery. She was crying. I picked her up and repeated her name over and over: “Sara, Sara, Sara.” She stopped crying and looked at me with that look that daughters give daddies, the one that warms and breaks our hearts for as long as we live.
I needed to celebrate, so I went to Lucy Ho’s Chinese restaurant for lunch.
And that’s how the Princess of our lives, Sara Katherine Ruffin, came into this world, twenty years ago today.