Thursday, April 1, 2010

William's Birthday

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.

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