Just over three years ago, I was heavy with child and patiently awaiting the onset of labor. It was to be the second time I gave birth, and I thought I had it all figured out. My due date was November 11, and since my first baby had been born just two hours before his due date, I knew that there was no danger of this one being born on my birthday, November 19. I was relieved, because I really did not want to share my birthday―my own special day―with one of my children, for the rest of our lives. But God, and my second-born, had other ideas.
I remember a phone conversation with my dad around November 14. "The baby's just waiting to come on your birthday," my dad joked. "He is not!" I retorted. "I am not going to share my birthday with one of my children!" But when I felt the first contraction at 5:30 on the morning of November 19, I knew that my dad had been right. I briefly considered trying to stall my labor with mind power alone, but I quickly realized that 1) I probably didn't have enough will power to do it and 2) I didn't really want to drag out an uncomfortable experience any longer than necessary. So I resigned myself to the inevitable, and just over twelve hours later, my second son made his entrance into the world.
Everyone at the hospital thought that it was wonderful that our little Elijah Kiyoshi was born on my birthday. They said things like, "Oh, that's so special!" and "Isn't it the best birthday present?" I smiled and nodded politely, but I didn't agree. My idea of a good birthday had been a leisurely day spent with family followed by dinner with my husband at a nice Mexican restaurant. But instead of doing what we had planned, I spent the entire day in labor and the following night in sleepless exhaustion. My midwife brought me a cupcake with a candle in it from the hospital cafeteria, and my mother-in-law and sister-in-law brought me gifts from the hospital gift store, but in my mind, these kind gestures didn't really make up for being made to walk through the valley of the shadow of death on my one special day out of the year.
That night, after all the well-wishers had gone home, and my husband had fallen asleep on the couch in my hospital room, I found myself wide awake in bed, unable to sleep because of the joy and excitement bubbling inside me. I realized that what I was feeling was similar to how I used to feel as a child after receiving an especially longed-for gift. I rolled onto my side and gazed lovingly at the precious little bundle nestled in the bassinet beside me, and my heart felt like it would burst from the force of the indescribable and powerful emotions surging through me. Maybe this was the best birthday present ever.
Today is my 33rd birthday. And it's my second son's 3rd birthday. Happy birthday, sweet little boy!
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The top picture is courtesy of my friend Oksana Diachenko; the second was taken by my husband.