Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Seven Things

Sue has nominated me for Very Inspiring Blogger!  Thanks Sue!!

I just have to come up with seven things about me...hmm.

Here are some things you might not know:

1. When I was born, my mother was in Germany and my father was in England.

2. I was born a surprising 6 weeks early.

3. My parents were sure I was going to be a boy.

4. When I was born, I was named Andrea Louise.

5. It was thought I would not live more than a few days.

6. I was diagnosed with Down's Syndrome.

7. I could read at the age of three.

This may be cheating. All seven of these are the same (funny) story!

My parents had been stationed in Germany for a few years by the time I came along .  A little less than two months before I was due, my Dad was sent for 6 weeks of special training at a school in England.  He planned to be back right before I was born.

Except, of course, I showed up the first week of class!

Landstuhl is now a state of the art military hospital, but at the time... not so much, at least in the neo
natal division.  My poor Mom was told that I was not going to make it, so she immediately baptized me: Andrea Louise after her sister Andrea (and St. Andrew) and St. Louis DeMontfort.  This name was because, what with me being a girl and all, she thought the agreed upon name (Anthony) a bad idea.

At this point, the Red Cross (rather presciently, since I was still given only days to live) sent my Dad a telegram that "mother and baby were doing fine."

My Dad immediately wrote my Mom a long letter (which I recently read) filled with joy and excitement, thrilled to have a little girl, hoping that I looked just like her, hoping that she was actually doing fine, and wondering what she thought of the name "Wendy."

Meanwhile, several days passed in the incubator, and I got a bit stronger, so the doctors decided I would make it... but, alas, I had a "simian crease" on one hand. I had Down's Syndrome.

My Mom asked what that was.  Keep in mind, this is 1970, and these doctors are trained more for combat casualties than for pediatrics. The doctor told her I would never be smarter than a 5 year old, or more coordinated than an 8 year old.

And that was it.  There was no second opinion, no Google to explain more.

I recently asked my Mom when she figured out the doctor was wrong.  She told me, "None of the doctors ever mentioned it again, and I was afraid to ask. I turned to prayer, and I took it in the most hopeful way: I thought that he meant you would keep learning until you were 5. When you turned 5 and kept learning, I figured that they were just wrong."

This explains why she taught me to read by the age of three!  This also explains my mom's devotion to Padre Pio: Pray, hope, and don't worry!

It's all pretty funny now...

Oh, yes, my name!

Nearly six weeks after I was born, I came out of the hospital, and my Dad came home. 

He went down to the records department to sign my birth certificate and request that my name be changed to Wendy.

Very Efficient German Lady: Dis is not possible, ze documents haf been typed and filed.

Dad: Very well, let me see the birth certificate.

(Ripping sounds)

Dad: Since you have to type a new one, her name will be Wendy Andrea.

Very Efficient German Lady: (incoherent choking sounds of rage)

You could say: he couldn't have done that now that everything is on computers.  Let me tell you: he couldn't have done it that way.  He still would have done it.  He's my Dad.

And I like Wendy and Andrea, although I've never been crazy about Louise (although I still count St. Louis as a patron, cause being a greedy little grace grabber runs in the family). Interestingly, both Andrea and Anthony got passed down in different forms in the family.

And, of course, 20 years later, I changed my last name, but that's another story!


Queen of Carrots said...

Great story! They didn't go with Antonia? :-)

My parents had a girl name picked out, but for some reason decided it did not fit my newborn self. So they quickly ran through the baby book for another one that went with my middle name.

Wendy said...

The funny thing is that neither parent liked Antonia.

I did, however, and I used it as a middle name for one of my girls. I didn't make the connection until much later!

Sue Elvis said...


That is a fabulous story! Thank you so much for sharing it. I enjoyed every word. What a hard start to life you had. I guess it was just as hard for your mother. But what faith!

We love Padre Pio very much too. He is one of my boys' confirmation saints. I have a relic of St Pio's (a piece of his habit) that was given to me when I was pregnant with Thomas, so I associate him with our son. I guess they are great friends in heaven!

I went to the Catholic Digital Media Conference in Sydney this week. While I was away, I missed so many good blog posts, like yours. I'm now enjoying catching up.

Enjoy the weekend. It's just about here for us!

Urblister said...

Wow! I never heard the full story before. How ironic that you are one of the smartest people I know. Who else would have been studying the protoevangelium at age 9.