Monday, January 7, 2013

Countdown to the first birthday

As we get closer to my sons’ first birthday (now less than two weeks away, can you believe it?!),  I find that, rather than feeling excited about this milestone in their lives, I am reflecting on far less happy thoughts.  When I think back on this time a year ago, I find myself thinking less about how happy I was to finally be a mother and more about how miserable I felt physically and how anxious I felt mentally in the two weeks leading up to their birth.

I know that a lot of parents like to tell their children their birth stories on their birthdays.  I don’t see myself doing that because their birth story isn’t entirely a happy memory for me.  Certainly it’s happy in the sense that I was overjoyed to welcome my sons into the world and relieved that they were healthy and did well, despite being almost six weeks early.  But it was far from the ideal birth experience I think most mothers would hope for.

Although my pregnancy with the boys was far from easy, I had had relatively few complications (apart from gestational diabetes) until I awoke in the early morning hours of January 5--the day after I hit 32 weeks--with a bad headache.  A trip to the OB showed that my blood pressure had started to climb, and that was the start of preeclampsia, although I didn't know it at the time.  All I knew then was that I'd be on bed rest, and off work, for the duration of my pregnancy.

No one wants to *have to* deliver because she is sick and because it is literally killing her to continue her pregnancy.  No one wants to deliver at 34 weeks.  No one wants to see her sons only briefly, in a drug-induced haze, during the first hours of their lives, rather than having the opportunity to hold them close and count all their fingers and toes.  No mother wants to spend the first couple of days after the birth of her children separated from them, or to leave the hospital without them.

Actually, I kind of hate hearing or reading other people’s birth stories because of the fact that mine isn’t the happy story I wish it had been.  It isn’t something I dwell on or think of often—fortunately for me, I always saw pregnancy and delivery as more of a means to an end than as goals in and of themselves—but when I do think of it, it’s not something I really enjoy thinking of.

I don’t like that I feel this way, and I hope that these feelings will not persist throughout my sons’childhood.  I have always loved celebrating my birthday—still do, at almost 42(!) years of age—and I want AJ and MJ to think of their birthday as a happy day, too.  To me, your birthday is the one day of the year that is all about you.

I hope that the older my sons get, the more I will be able to celebrate their presence in my life on their birthday, celebrate THEM, and the less I will think about the actual day of their birth.


  1. The birth of my twins isn't exactly rainbow filled memories either ... but what I try to focus on IS the rainbow-filled parts. The laughter in the OR at the stereo-screaming of two babies. The way I looked at them in their warmers and KNEW which was A and which was D. The way D relaxed ONLY when I held him and no one else. A's rock-solid grip on his daddy's finger. Little glimmers in the muck-filled days.

    And yes .. as they get older, their birthday is less about their birth day and more about THEM, who they are, what they've accomplished, the year we just finished, the year coming.

  2. I think sometimes people put too much emphasis on the "birth story." I mean, yes, it can apparently be a wonderful and transcendent experience for some people, but for the rest of us, I don't think we should feel any pressure to replicate that experience or those memories. I totally agree with you that it's a means to an end, and I'm sure that as they get older their birthday will be more about them and less about the actual day of their actual birth. Happy birthday to AJ and MJ!

  3. I had a really crappy birth experience with my singleton, who just turned 1. In fact, I grieved my experience for the better part of a year. As his first birthday approached, I too found myself avoiding thinking about his birth story. Although sometimes I'd say to him on the days preceeding his birthday--and "today, sweetie, mommy was STILL in labor with you!" :-) Just trying to cope with humor, I guess! I like andmom's point--as they get older, their birthday will be more about who they are--thanks for that perspective.

  4. I also don't like reading other people's birth stories bc I didn't like how mine was either. That's why I haven't written about it... I don't want to relive it. Glad I'm not the only one. I'm sure it will become more about them and less about how they got here with each birthday that comes.

  5. I didn't have a crappy birth experience, but it wasn't particularly special either. I didn't have music or a birth plan, but like someone else said above, I focus on the good things or the funny things.

    There's nothing that says you even have to talk about that with them. My Mom never told me my birth story in full until I was pregnant (at 39)!


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