My four year old turns five this Saturday. He is counting down, each morning awakening with an elated shout of a single digit number signifying the number of days left until his big day of celebration. He doesn’t realize that it is my birthday, too. I have five birthdays. The day I was born (June 1), the day my firstborn who ultimately died of SIDS was born (March 19), The day my son was born (October 22), the day we lost our daughter, Parker to Trisomy 18 (November 13), and the day my twins were born (December 29). Each one of those days marked a turning point in my life. The only one I do not remember with a vivid movie-like memory is my own birthday.
At 5:25 pm on October 22, I will remember the frantic moment where I sat up in my hospital bed and declared, “he’s coming… like right now.” I’ll remember the part where my mom, a former nurse, asked if she could see what was going on. I’ll remember the part where I screamed, “NO MOM, get the nurse who is WORKING!” I’ll remember my husband, steadfast at my side, holding my hand as the nurse told me to stop pushing, he was coming so fast. I’ll remember how we all laughed that he didn’t wait for my push, he just entered the world with his own momentum, and has been riding that wave since 2006. At 5:25 on October 22, I’ll remember my birth as Ollie’s mom while he blows out his candles.
When I took my first run around the pregnancy track, I used to get so tired of hearing other people’s birth stories. I thought they all served as a cautionary tale, or a moral or ethical stand about how one “should” approach birth. I did not understand, as I do now, that the telling of the birth story isn’t really about the one with whom the birth story is shared, it’s about the storyteller. It’s part of how we process the gravity of the major life shift we experience with each birth. A wonderful and miraculous life shift that forever alters our path to the point of no return. It’s big, and it’s beautiful, and it’s meant to be shared.