In about 35 minutes, the time here in the NW will be midnight, and my birthday will officially begin. My 35th birthday ... to be exact.
As I sit here ... counting down the minutes ... and staring at my beautiful baby girl ... in between keystrokes, details of my recent labor experience and my daughter's "birth" day keep flooding my brain. I am curious to see how those thoughts may intertwine with thoughts of MY own birthday ...
I was born January 10, 1975 to a young woman and her husband. They had only been married since June 20, 1974. If you do the math, as I finally did at the age of 17, you'll discover that only about 6 months had passed between those two events. I wasn't born out of wedlock, but I was ... I am ... a Love Child. And 35 years later, my parents are still (quite) happily married. I was married for 9 years before having my first child.
16 hours of labor. Do you know how many times my mom has reminded me of that simple fact? She was in labor for 16 hours, which I must admit does seem like a long time ... to labor. Especially considering the fact that I was only in labor for a fraction of that ... about four hours with my first and an eight hour induction with my second.
Although the exact time eludes me, I also know I was born sometime around 12:30 am. My first daughter was also born about half past midnight. My mom's water was broken by the doctors, and epidural wasn't even an option. My water broke at home the first time, but I experienced having my water broken with my second daughter's induction. I've given birth - both times - without an epidural ... by choice.
I weighed a modest 6 pounds 10 ounces. I know this size baby very well. Having gained two pounds since birth, this is the exact current weight of my sweet Charlotte. Natalie was just a little bit bigger at 7 pounds but lost almost a pound while learning to nurse.
My mom did not nurse me. Well, she tried but I didn't cooperate. And there just wasn't the support for breastfeeding "back then" that there is now. I have found great joy in being able to nurse both my girls.
According to my mother, who doesn't mince words when it comes to this topic, I was an awful baby. I was colicky ... apparently forever ... at least the way she remembers it. I didn't sleep well. I cried all the time. I was disgruntled and fussy and awful. It's a wonder she ever had more babies. Perhaps the fact that I was a great toddler and kid helped persuade her to have three more!
My mom was young when she had me; just 19 years old. And she was done having her four children by age 32, the age at which I found out I was pregnant for the first time.
Something that really surprised me about being pregnant and birthing a baby ... it completely changed the way I think about my own mother. It gave me this whole new perspective and appreciation. I understand what she had to go through to bring me into this world. I know the depths of the love she felt when she held me for the first time. I know the emotions and doubts and concerns that coursed through her heart and mind as she took care of me as a newborn. I know the challenges of learning how a newborn communicates and meeting her needs. It's incredible to think that my mom once looked at my sleeping newborn face the same way I am looking at my daughter's right now ... with a love that is almost impossible to describe but is known by mother's everywhere.
Just as my labor experiences - my children's "birth" days - are etched into my heart and brain forever, MY birthday must bring back a flood of memories for my mom, too. There is no one else who can recall the details and emotions of the day I was born. For most of my life, I've thought about MY birthday but really, it's a day I share with the woman who was gave me life. It's OUR birthday!