Today my son turns 4. As moms, we can't help but turn back the clock on our children's birthdays to the day they were born. My mother-in-law was going to look after Ava while I was in the hospital with William, and she teasingly told me that it would be more convenient for her teaching schedule if I went into labour on a weekend or over spring break. I couldn't pull the trigger on spring break, but was determined to have him on a Saturday, and I did.
My midwife gave me a recipe for a vile concoction that was meant to induce labour. I mixed it first thing Saturday morning, one day after my due date, drank it down, and immediately began having contractions. These petered out by mid-afternoon. I called my midwife and she suggested I suck down a second dose of the putrid drink. I did, and from that point I didn't look back.
After 44 hours of labour with Ava and wearing the label "failure to progress", I was nervous to have a repeat with William. By late afternoon when the contractions were becoming very intense, I was secretly wishing for it to stop but knowing that it wouldn't until I was finished the work and held my baby in my arms. In the early evening we went to the hospital. The whole world shrank to 30-45 second intervals of focused pain, but I knew I was progressing, and I was grateful.
William was born at 10:55 pm. Jason, the ever supportive and brilliant man that he is, leaned over while I was pushing and said, "If you hang off for an hour, the baby won't be born on April Fool's Day." Good luck telling that to a woman who just wants the pain to be over. In 3 pushes he was here, but unlike Ava, he didn't cry right away. That silence seemed to go on forever. I remember the midwifery student telling me it was normal to be stunned after coming through the birth canal and not to worry.
I still worried. It's part of the territory as a mom. And then, that beautiful sound of a baby's first cry. I said to Jason, "I'm so glad I got to do it naturally, the way I wanted to, and I'm so relieved that I NEVER have to do that again." I asked if the baby was a boy or a girl while they worked on him in another part of the room, and before I received an answer I heard this low mumbling, "11.2? Does that scale say 11 lbs. 2 oz?"
His enormous weight was the big story at an hour before midnight on April Fool's Day in 2006. Followed by the fact that he had red hair. I heard both of those facts before I was informed that he was a boy. I remember being worried that I wouldn't love him the same way I loved Ava, but the instant he was placed in my arms all of those worries went away. I fell deep, and hard, and knew it was exactly the same as the first time.
William has been a more challenging child than Ava. He has humbled me as a parent, and shown me parts of my own personality that I would rather forget about. He wears his emotions on his sleeve and hasn't yet developed a hard crust to protect his soft, marshmallow insides.
I have spent 37 years learning how to protect my vulnerable core from the outside world. His vulnerabilities and fears are completely exposed. As a mom, I have to help him survive in the world while trying to keep the essence of his sweet personality intact. It's a tight rope act and I often feel like I'm free falling and making it up as I go along. With Ava I'm on more certain parenting ground, but if I'm honest I realize I've learned much more from parenting William.
I love you, William. Have a very happy 4th birthday. Keep on being yourself.