There is no way this day could have snuck up on me. My Little One has been talking about it for MONTHS. I got a bit of a reprieve when I told her we needed to get through Christmas first, but by the time 2009 rolled around and the holiday decorations were put away, she was back at it again. Planning… coordinating… down to the littlest detail… what kind of birthday party to have. After all, this was no ordinary birthday (although I doubt “ordinary” is a word any child would use when talking about those single digits celebrations). This one was extra special – the big 05. Quite a year.
The biggest and best thing about being 5 means you get to go to Kindergarten – and what can be better than that?! She knows (from previously being dragged there every morning dropping off big brother) what exciting things happen in those "big kid" classrooms. Stories, songs, painting, art projects…but more than that – learning. Real learning. Like learning how to read. And she wants nothing more in the world than that!
Recently, for a class project on family heritage, my son had to write up the story of when he was born. He had me tell it to him one night at dinner, and then my daughter had me tell it again the next night. Of course I am all about stories, but even I have to agree with them: the story of my son’s birth is a good one. Most kids turned in 1 paragraph – my son turned in 3 whole pages. His teacher said it was straight out of an I Love Lucy episode. But, what makes it even better, is that even though it didn’t go as planned, I still had the kind of birth I wanted and it was an awesome experience. Even with all the pain, I was eager to experience it (or something like it) again when our next child came around.
But my daughter’s birth wasn’t like that for me. It is not the same kind of story, and it still to this day makes me sad when I think about it. I have friends that wanted and planned on having a c-section, that had it scheduled well before their 9th month. I have other friends that wanted the drugs lined up and waiting for them when they got to the hospital. The drug-free “au natural” experience that I had with my son seems to be nobody I know’s choice for childbirth – except mine. I guess it is my runner mentality – I was geared up for the pain -- for the challenge; as such, I couldn’t wait to see how I did the second time around.
But the second time around I ended up with a breech baby. And although I tried EVERYTHING possible, that baby was not moving. So right before my due date, much to my dismay, a c-section was scheduled. I was not a happy camper.
So how do I share that story with my Little One, who is so eager for me to tell the story of when SHE was born. I do think it is a great thing to do on your kids’ birthdays. Like Jamie Lee Curtis’s book “Tell Me Again About the Night I was Born,” kids want to hear their story over and over. I think they should. It is a part of their history, of their start in the world. But how do I make it special for my daughter?
So I tell her that right at the end of my pregnancy, when the baby is suppose to be getting in the right position and getting ready to come out, she went the other way. Maybe she got stuck in that tiny space and couldn’t move around very well. Or maybe she wanted to be where SHE wanted to be (she’s a Headstrong one even to this day – so it fits) which was exactly opposite of where she should have been. So my doctor tried to turn her around. There is a fancy name for this procedure (and it is not for the faint-hearted) but the bottom line is it didn’t work. Because now her little foot was propped up against the top of my stomach, keeping her wedged in that position with no wiggle room.
There was nothing more my doctor could do. But did I give up? No-o-o – not her Mama! We tried the moving flashlight trick, the follow-the-loud music trick (all these wives’ tales are supposedly tried and true – they have worked for some, sadly not for me). I was desperate. I saw an acupuncturist for several treatment sessions. Nada. Finally I had my husband crank up the pool heater and went out to do hand stands in the pool. Quite a sight, I might add – a big ol’ pregnant woman flipping upside down in the water. My not quite 3-year-old son stood behind the pool fence with his father trying to make sense of what silly Mommy was up to. Still, our sweet little baby wouldn’t budge.
I was told to pick a date for her delivery. And I HATED that. How could I just arbitrarily choose such an important day? We were close to the cusp of Pisces or Aries – it didn’t seem right that her astrological future should be something I would decide.
March 17th was suggested and I turned that down so fast nobody dared to second-guess me. I would not have my daughter born on St. Patrick’s Day – where every year on her birthday she would HAVE to wear green – or get pinched! Ridiculous! (She loves that part.) And so March 18th it was. No waiting around for an Aries birthday (like her mom’s) – medically now we needed her out before she decided to do it on her own.
As scheduled, we drove to the hospital that morning, where my lovely doctor said she’d try ONE more time to turn her around. But this time the ultrasound showed that the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck. Game over. No more trying. Time to just get her out safely. Because, I tell her, the most important thing was that she was born safely. I was so excited to have a baby girl – and just like with her big brother, we couldn’t wait to meet her!
At 8:02am on March 18th, the doctors took her out of my “tummy” (well – not quite – but it works better for story purposes). And when they put her on the scale, she weighed exactly the same number as her brother had – down to the very same ounce. Coincidence? Not for this Zen Mama Wannabe. It was then, I tell her, I knew she had arrived on the very day and time she was supposed to.
That is HER story. One that she gets to hear as we celebrate her birth into the world. We celebrate with chocolate cake with pink frosting and sprinkles all over the top and Annie’s Mac and Cheese for dinner (another birthday tradition – the birthday kid picks the menu). Her big day is here – finally – and she tells me she will remember it for the rest of her life. (I think I might like this being 5 phase).
After all the festivities have ended, I can't help but sigh as I tuck her in bed. No more party talk or planning for nearly a year -- thank goodness! As I tiptoe out of her room, her little voice calls out to me:
Yikes! Like mother, like daughter, I guess. Even with different sun signs.