Today is my birthday, and this birthday feels different.
I have realized how giving birth has changed my entire perspective on birthdays in general, but especially mine.
Up until now, I’ve always thought of my birthday as belonging to me; it’s my day. The anniversary of the day I was brought into the world.
But really, the passive voice of that last sentence is misplaced. In actuality, my birthday is the anniversary of the day my mom brought me into the world. My mom worried and labored and felt pain and sweated and cried and felt crazy beautiful joy and relief.
I guess I couldn’t really get it until I had done the same thing for someone else.
My mom was in labor with me for 24 hours. My dad drove her to the hospital, which was about 30 minutes away from home. My mom remembers being pissed that my dad’s breath smelled like potato chips as he led her in the Lamaze breathing in which they had taken classes. My parents talked about a very insensitive nurse who couldn’t get some medical reading because my mom was writhing in pain during a contraction. I would like to be able to track down that nurse and punch her in the ear, exactly 32 years late.
At some point during the labor, my mom announced she wanted an epidural. Apparently, someone informed my dad that it was too late in the process for an epidural to do any good, and so my dad ended up lovingly lying to my mom, telling her the pain meds would be coming any minute now. I can only imagine how much of a champ my mom was for getting through the remainder of the laboring process completely unmedicated.
And so I came into the world at about 2:15am on February 10th, a Thursday, head first but facing up. At that time, few parents knew the sex of their baby before birth, and my parents were no exception. My mom wrote in my baby book that I was alert and had strawberry blonde hair, which are the exact same phrases I ended up writing in my son’s baby book.
So today, I celebrate my first birthday as a mom even though it’s not entirely my day. And in six months, my son will get to smash his face into sweet, damp cake for the first time, but it won’t really be his day. Not all the way, at least. That will be a day when I’ll be telling anyone who will listen how I brought this perfect creature into the world.
…maybe that will be a day when I should make myself my own smash cake.
And by smash cake I mean celebratory booze.