Today we are celebrating my daughter Ava's 7th birthday. As she is my eldest child, I'm also celebrating the day I became a mom. I wasn't like most of my friends, in that I didn't get pregnant on the first try. It took nine months of trying with Ava, and for a results-driven personality like mine, those nine months were challenging. I thought when I was ready to get pregnant, I would get pregnant, and that would be the end of it. Of course, motherhood doesn't work that way.
I thoroughly enjoyed being pregnant with Ava. People celebrate a woman experiencing her first pregnancy in such a special way (I'm always telling my friends to soak up that first pregnancy as the second and subsequent ones are just as special to you, but not the rest of the world) and I loved the feeling of life growing inside of me. At about the six month mark, I felt certain that I was having a girl. Our names were Ava or Elise, and we went back and forth with them, finally deciding on Ava Grayce. She would've been Alexander William if she'd been a boy.
My birth experience with Ava was also unexpected. I had a midwife, and planned a natural birth in the hospital with no drugs. I knew first labours could be long, so I planned on a 12-14 hour labour and delivery period. It ended up being 44 hours. After 30 hours of regular contractions, I was a 1/2 cm dilated. Discouraged is far too mild a word to describe how I felt at that moment.
I ended up with an epidural during most of active labour so I'd have some energy for delivery. After all of those hours I just wanted to meet my baby, plus give some news to all of my family, friends and co-workers who were anxiously waiting when they knew I had gone into labour! Finally, at 12:03 pm in the O.R. after 2 hours of pushing, she came with the help of forceps. I was prepped and ready for a C-section, but thankfully avoided surgery at the very last minute.
There she was, 10 lbs even, beautiful and miraculous to her new parents. The first baby is so unbelievably special because of the time you have to study them, and adore them, with no outside interruptions. I remember the day someone called and asked me what I was doing, and I said I was watching her eyelashes grow in.
As a new parent, you fall deeply and instantly in love with your child. Ava was a joy as a baby, sleeping and eating well, with a placid, easygoing personality. She has developed into a toddler, preschooler and elementary school child with the same easy approach to life. She tends toward perfectionism, like me, but when I spot it I can stop her and talk about it with her, and slowly that seems to be helping. She is outgoing like me and relaxed like Jason. She's a good blend of our strongest qualities. I could not be prouder of her kindness, generosity, tender spirit, and outrageous sense of humour.
Becoming a mother has changed my life, in all of the ways people say it will, and then some. I have less time to myself but more knowledge. I have less patience but increased understanding. I have deeper fears but greater faith. My kids have inspired a love so deep it cannot be measured. I would gladly give my life for them, and for others, because love stirred in the soul is not exclusive. It pours over and gives to the world in ways I wasn't capable of before I had children. Happy Birthday, Ava. I love you forever.