It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Happy Birthday

Twenty years ago this moment, I was less than two hours from meeting my firstborn. We’d been at this endeavour for about 14 hours, but I was holding the course pretty well, still pacing the halls, stopping at steadily reducing intervals to lean on her dad and pant. The nurses cooed every time we paced by their station. I was young, it was my first, I was solemn and stoic, only whimpering quietly from time to time – all things to warm their hearts.

An hour and a quarter later, I was in bed and pushing. Half hour after that, two nurses and a doctor were jostling for position between my thighs, oohing over my nether regions. (If you think there’s anything remotely sexy about this, you’ve never been in a labour room.) “Would you look at those membranes!!” said the midwife to the OB nurse, when – POP! – they exploded. Later, I laughed at the memory of how they’d all leaped backwards out of the spray. At the time I felt only a certain savage delight.

And that was it. One or maybe two good pushes later, my warm, wet, wide-eyed daughter was in my arms.

The midwife latched her on to me to nurse once they’d cleaned her up and bundled her neatly. A few minutes later, I moved her to the other side. She knew what she was doing from the first second. Which made exactly one of us.

“I don’t think she’s quite in the right spot,” observed my husband.

I carefully broke the suction, just as I’d been shown, and pulled her away. There on the side of my breast was a deep red hickey. She was doing her part; too bad mummy hadn’t a clue…

She was always a smart little thing. At age six, she convinced her then three year old brother that he would rather eat the leaves of our raspberry bushes, that “those red things are yukky, and you should give them to me.” Strangely, they have a very good relationship…

She was always part mother to her baby sister, who was born when she was seven. Today, on her birthday, I handed to phone to her little sister so she could say her birthday greetings, and then had to wait twenty minutes to get it back – and would have had to wait longer, I’m sure, had the girl not had to get back to school.

And now that tiny smoke-eyed baby is a tall and lovely smoke-eyed woman. Smart and independent. She’s in university, she’s been living on her own for a couple of years, she’s making a life for herself. She’s even going on her very first grown-up vacation, made without any family members whatsoever, over Christmas. (To Cuba. But I’m not jealous, oh no.)

It’s a miracle when a baby is born. It’s no less wonderful when that baby graduates into a life of her own, and you get to see the beginnings of the rewards of all that effort.

Happy Birthday, Sweetie!

December 7, 2005 - Posted by | my kids


  1. Feeding younger brothers vile things must be an older sister tradition. Though I cannot remember my loving sweet and kind sisters doing such a mean thing to me, my wife once convinced her brother that choke cherries were non toxic and yummy. They maybe nontoxic but they taste real bad, and can give you a stomach ache. (too much vitamine A, but not enough to kill you)Unfortunately much as I like my Brother-in-law I can’t help to wonder why he actually ate them, could it be that he was about 6yrs old.

    Comment by Bill | December 7, 2005 | Reply

  2. Happy birthday to both of you – you’re taking the thought of having a 20 year old child very calmly:-)

    It sounds like a (comparitively) easy birth, and a fantastic daughter. I hope I can look back so happily in 15 years time (although the birth was not fun – & neither of us knew what we were doing with the feeding thing!)

    Comment by Mrs.Aginoth | December 7, 2005 | Reply

  3. Happy Birthday!

    Comment by misfit | December 7, 2005 | Reply

  4. Happy birthday! As far as I can tell, twenty is the birthday that mother stop pretending that she’ll ever let her baby grow up and brings the truth out in the open. (I’m twenty three and still the bay-bee…)

    Comment by BecjaJ | December 7, 2005 | Reply

  5. Aw, thanks Mum. I’m really quite touched. Love you.

    Comment by Haley | December 7, 2005 | Reply

  6. Bill: The reason your “sweet, loving and kind” sisters never fed you anything vile was that you were too busy doing it to yourself. I am, of course, recalling the Great Javex Trauma. If sucking back who knows how much bleach didn’t kill you off, it would be pointless for us to try. (And someone who voluntarily ingested bleach should not be casting aspersions upon a poor tyke who trusted his sister and ate mere berries.)

    MrsA: Thanks. Well, I have had twenty years to get used to the idea!

    Beckajo: I’ll let you take that up with Haley (below). I like to think she’s being allowed to be an adult; perhaps she sees it differently, though!

    Haley: Love you, too! Happy Birthday!

    Comment by Mary P. | December 8, 2005 | Reply

  7. What a beautiful post Mary. Happy Birthday to your daughter!

    Comment by Misfit Hausfrau | December 8, 2005 | Reply

  8. That’s true I wonder if Boys sense of taste does not develop until after age Five.

    In my defence I was about three or four at the time, and I still like the smell of Bleach (but not to drink).

    Thank God I do not remember anything about the whole thing being too young.

    And as for being critical of my Brother-in-law, for eating Choke cherries, I wasn’t actually being that critical considering how else would I know what they taste like if I hadn’t ate some myself.

    However back to the original posting…

    That was a wonderful account of the birth of an amazing person. May I say congratulations to you for raising an amazing woman and happy birthday to your daughter.

    Well I have got to go I have this urge to go for a coffee, I have progressed beyond Bleach.

    Comment by Bill | December 8, 2005 | Reply

  9. Becjaj: Sorry for getting your tag wrong – not thinking too clearly this morning!

    Comment by Mary P. | December 8, 2005 | Reply

  10. I had to be eating my lunch when I read about your membranes. Yum.

    Happy (belated) birthday, Haley!

    Comment by ieatcrayonz | December 8, 2005 | Reply

  11. Happy Birthday, Haley!
    It’s not just boys, Bill. I drank ammonia.
    And I’m the oldest so I can’t blame it on any mean-spirited siblings whatsoever.

    Comment by LoryKC | December 9, 2005 | Reply

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