O: What's a birthday?
K: It's how we celebrate how many trips you've made around the sun.
O: How many trips have I made?
K: You have made four. Four whole trips.
O was born at 4:26pm on 4/26/10. Whether that was fudged by a nurse with OCD or actual fact, I'll never know. I was a little distracted.
I woke up that morning planning to go to work, sure I had at least 6 more weeks of waddling around with a baby in my belly. I sat up in bed, sneezed, and my water broke. I called Jim, told him I was going to head to the hospital, but that he could probably stay at work. He came home. As we drove to the hospital, I was convinced that I wasn't going to have a baby that day. It was too early. We had just interviewed, but not yet hired, our doula. We didn't even have a car seat. Her baby shower was the following weekend.
By the time we hit the hospital, my contractions had started and reality had taken hold. My dreams of a drug-free birth hit the floor as the pain hit my body. The anesthesiologist looked like an angel, halo and wings, when she came in to give me my epidural. I was in transition, but was too scared, and too overwhelmed to realize it. The rush of relief from the epidural was one of the highest highs I've ever felt. Never had I more clearly understood how pleasure can just be the absence of pain.
No one said anything about those six weeks. Suddenly, when it was time to push, a team of gown-clad doctors and nurses rushed into the room. I realized pretty quickly that they weren't there for me. The NICU team was there, just in case.
O was born quickly and without incident. She was small, but strong and cried lustily. That team from the NICU quickly and quietly left the room, happy to have witnessed a birth that they were not needed for. I still remember holding her, her body stretching from my elbow to my wrist. That first night was hard, with two botched blood draws and panic about her white blood cell count. But somehow, even only a few hours in, my newly-minted mother's intuition kept reassuring me that she was fine.
And she was. She came home with us the next day, and other than some gnarly jaundice, she was perfect. They gave us an electric light-up blanket to wrap her in. She reminded me of a glow worm. At some point, I remembered to call in to work.
Today, she is four. Each year, her birthday seems to become more hers and less ours. Today was about surprises, special lunches, and a big girl bed. Tonight, though, now that she is asleep, is about memories. Tonight is about my birth day, one of the most terrifyingly beautiful days of my whole life.
Congratulations on your 4th trip around the sun, O.