The Nostalgia of Birthdays

It’s interesting the things we remember and the things we forget.

When I first started school two years ago, my biggest challenge was the endless volume of science terminology I needed to learn and memorize.  I quickly realized that in order to actually learn the material, it needed to have resonance.  For some things, this was particularly easy, cancerous growths, heart attacks, cell regeneration.  I remember reading about the sodium potassium pump, and realizing, “Life and science are the same.  You give up a little of one thing in order to have more of something else.  Ding.”  However, some topics are harder to learn because they have no personal meaning.  (Don’t ask me about the various bones in the foot.  I haven’t a clue.)

We’re all human and we only remember what’s important to us.  That means we’re probably going to forget what we ate for breakfast yesterday.  However, life isn’t about the transitory or the mundane; it’s about what’s important enough for us to remember.

My two youngest children both had their birthdays this week.  John turned six, and Rose turned 3.  It’s amazing.  As a parent, birth days are one of those things that you simply never forget.  I still remember each of my children’s birth days with a vividness that’s almost frightening.  I remember going to the hospital with my first child, with no birth plan whatsoever, and leaning against the hospital wall in pain.  We suspected I was pretty far along, and sure enough I was dilated to almost 7.  Since I couldn’t sleep, I had watched “LA Confidential” at 5 a.m.  I was exhausted and the nurse suggested I get an epidural.  She said it would give me a reprieve from the pain and allow me to sleep.

What?  You didn’t sleep during labor?  Oh, that’s right.  No one sleeps during labor!  And I was naive enough to agree to an epidural for no real reason.  Since I was dilating very quickly, I didn’t get the epidural until about 8 cm, and ended up being completely numb throughout my son’s birth.  I felt nothing, but tore all the way through.  When I first heard him cry I was confused… because I didn’t realize I had given birth!  I ended up having extensive bladder damage afterwards.  It was nonfunctional for three months, but when the swelling went down, function returned.  Thankfully.

Also, Michael was an amazingly easy baby.  Autistic babies tend to be on the extreme ends of the spectrum.  Some cry constantly because they’re overly sensitive to sensory input.  Others barely cry at all because they aren’t trying to gain the attention of their caregiver.  As an infant, my son only cried when he was hungry or sick.  At the time, we thought he was super easygoing.  We really didn’t know any better.

For our second child, we were slightly better prepared.  I was determined to do it naturally, but he was a week late, and not doing well in stress tests.  We waited all afternoon for the doctor to give me the Pitocin, but I refused to do another epidural.  We didn’t have a name that time either, and spent those hours reading and joking around.  However, once they finally gave me the Pitocin, he was an extremely fast and surprisingly easy birth.  John was born with a receding hairline and late-baby wrinkles that made him look like a little old man.

Later on that day, while I was nursing, my husband took pictures of me with the baby.  I warned him to be careful, and he claimed he was zooming in on the baby… but he ended up sending a picture of my left boob to everyone we know!  Yes, this included some business associates.

Rosie’s delivery was memorable for other reasons.  And she has grown up even more quickly than the other two.  Under their advanced tutelage, she’s quickly turned into a little daredevil who always wants to climb higher and faster.  Meanwhile, we’ve changed too.  By the time you have your third child, you’re far more relaxed and don’t sweat every little thing.  I honestly don’t think we’ve ever put a bib on her, and she mismatches her clothing on a regular basis.  And it doesn’t matter one bit.

One day, when she looks back on her own childhood, she’ll remember us and her brothers, not her mismatched clothing.  And that’s exactly how it should be.

What are some of your earliest memories and/or memories of your children and their birthdays?

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20 Responses to The Nostalgia of Birthdays

  1. Hey there! here is my personal account of my firstborn. And like the photo album, I never wrote out the story of the secondborn. I owe her!

    • Thanks! I can’t wait to read it.

      I never quite got around to finishing the baby books… Although at the point, I’ve touched on all of their birth stories, and we do have TONS of photos. (It helped that our third was our first girl.)

  2. El Guapo says:

    Beautiful post.
    I have no kids, but for myself, I don’t know if I should be more amazed by what I remember, or what I’ve forgotten!

  3. southernbarbie says:

    I agree, I remember having my daughter and the joy I felt when I finally saw her. When people ask me if I felt pain and I know I did so I say yes. Then they ask how it felt like, thats when I dont remember how the pain felt to the point.

    • That’s so interesting. I actually do remember the pain with my second and third children. However, you really do forget most of that… or else no one would have more than one munchkin!

  4. My first was born on New Year’s Eve. After the birth and I was finally alone, I was too hyped to sleep. So I watched fireworks on TV.

  5. Le Clown says:

    This is not for you. Hey, Rosie and John… Happy birthday! And I’m sorry your mom forgot to hire a clown for the birthday celebration…
    Le Clown
    PS: John, that noise in the closet… You’re right, that’s me……

  6. Peaches says:

    I remember the Rosie birth story. I was laughing the whole time but when I read it to The Hubs he freaked and is now intent on running me to a doc/hospital for the slightest twinge…and we aren’t even pregnant yet. Overprotective? Um, yes. So I’m not sure if I should thank you for that or not….

    But this story is beautiful too. happy birthday to John and Rosie!

    • Tell him first labors take MUCH longer. My first labor was around fifteen hours. John was only 90 minutes. Rosie was probably 2 1/2, but the first hour it was unclear. (Contractions weren’t strong and were irregular.)

      Thanks! I’m going to show John this post! (He loves seeing pictures of himself on the internet.)

  7. Sweet post. Love the photos and the stories behind your kids.

    My son was a horrible long back labor, (over 25 hours) epidural-failure, pitocin nightmare that ended with an emergency c-section. I have a vivid memory of when the nurse went to hand him to me, she had him all rolled up in a blanket and was whispering to him and I could see the back of his sweet head, he had a full head of hair with a few little curls poking out the back. He looked very wise and like an old man (much like you said!) I wanted to name him Yoda but we went with Christian instead. He’s turning 10 next month. Sigh.

    My daughter was a repeat c/s and when I first saw her she was the calmest baby I’d ever laid eyes on. She just looked around the OR at all of us like she was sizing us all up. She had a little mohawk haircut and these wise old soul eyes. She’s starting kindergarten next week. Sigh.

    Thanks for the poignant trip down memory lane. Happy birthday to John and Rosie!

    • Thanks Darla. I had fun looking through all of the old photos for this post. (We bought a new computer a couple of years ago so most of these photos weren’t on our hard drive.)

      Yeah, the moment where you first meet your kids is really something. They’re so tiny, and it’s so frightening and amazing all at once. I’ve heard a lot of nightmarish things about back labors and about emergency C-sections. Probably the worst story I ever read, they didn’t give enough anesthesia, so the woman could actually feel the cutting… Horrible stuff.

      And yet we’re still incredibly lucky because giving birth used to be considered life-threatening and dangerous. Modern medicine has taken away much of that danger.

  8. Funny how so many days just blend together, but those days stay so vivid 🙂 For my first, I was induced two weeks early. I was so unprepared! After 36 hours, and 2 and half hours of pushing, my stubborn little man finally made his entrance into the world. To this day, the kid takes forever to get ready.
    My second was the complete opposite! About 9 hours from start to finish. I pushed for maybe 15 minutes. I remember everyone telling me she wasn’t coming, and then the nurse saying oh, she’s crowning! DUH… I’ve been telling you that! To this day, she’s annoyingly independent!
    Great post! Following from the TGIF blog hop. Come visit me at

    • That’s so funny! I swear I was several weeks early, and it’s the only time in my life that I’ve ever been early!

      Both of your labors were really long! I was lucky that my 2nd and 3rd were both unusually fast labors. Oh, and welcome! I’m still trying to navigate the blog hop myself! There are way more participating blogs than I realized!

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