Born Special I was in the womb eleven and one half months, came out fat, durable and gorgeous. I've seen the newborn pictures: smooth broad ears, a few sharp little teeth glinting like Chiclets. It wasn't that I was overdue, it just took extra time for me to get ready. I have no way of knowing how ordinary babies do it, but when I was ready, I came out. It was an animal doctor who delivered me. My father arranged it in a bargain struck with the local vet. Dad ran a pick-up service, cleaning out veterinarians' animal incinerators, selling the leavings to an outfit that bagged them as a tonic for garden dirt. haul your ashes is what it said on the sides of our special coupe. That '45 Chevy was my dad's pride and joy. Only two years old and black as the ace of spades. He'd taken the car's backseat out and broken through to the trunk, giving him room for all the ashes in the world. When I was born I screamed for a while, I couldn't help it, my head hurt like Hades. My first sight in broad daylight was the vet's sweaty face, quivering from the effort of getting me out. He held me away from him like I was rabies. "Man alive," he muttered, prodding at my solid haunch. "Same gestation as a walrus." I heard him and he knew it. If I reminded him of a walrus, I came by it naturally. My dad was a dead ringer for one: sleek-dark and heavy, with a mustache like oiled bristle. Dad and the vet allowed I looked like my mother, Bettina, a blond beauty. The difference being I was strapping large and she was petite. ". . . So purdy . . . ," Momma said faintly, hardly even alive from what she'd been through. "So!" the vet said. "Whatcha naming her?" "Baby Girl." Voice weaker by the minute. "She's my baby girl" Dad snorted. "That's the stupidest name that ever lived. The kid's already bigyou think she's not going to get bigger? That folks won't laugh at her being called Baby Girl?" I looked from one parent to the other. I thought Baby Girl was real to the point and showed how it would be between me and my mother. Momma was past answering. Her eyes wandered fuzzily around at the roomful of cages. Cats and dogs pressed their noses to the wire and looked back at us with scandalized faces. Now that I'm old enough to know such things, Momma's told me the story. "It all came as a surprise, Baby Girl. What happened that day." I'd been inside her so long, she'd started thinking that was just how it was. The last thing she imagined was me being born on a cold steel table meant for examining collie dogs. She and Dad had been sitting in a theater, watching a movie with the latest blond actress, Marilyn Monroe. Dad saying all the way through, Man alive, I'm gonna hop a bus to Hollywood, get that bombshell's number! This made Momma, who was just as much a bombshell, not feel too swell about how she looked. The audience started in clapping and hooting at something Miss Monroe was doing. When I heard the whistlesbeing an innocent unbornI figured it was all for me and decided this was the moment to come out. Momma got my signal and quick pulled Dad up the aisle. Once they were in the car, he amazed her by driving right by the hospital. Instead, he turned in at the Paw and Claw Clinic and herded her in its back door. She didn't know one thing about the arrangement! But by then, the crowning of my head was cleaving her like a chain saw and there wasn't much she could do about it. "The best things in life come with pain, Baby Girl," is what she says now. "I guess that makes you my very best thing." For years she walked with a pitiful limp, the direct upshot of me being born. And worse, she didn't lose that unfocused look until IVance, Susanna is the author of 'Sights' with ISBN 9780385327619 and ISBN 0385327617.