The tiny little details of childbirth are forever etched into my memory.
Each year, on my children’s birthdays, I hear myself sounding like my mother. “6 years ago today, at this time, I was about to go into labor.” “You came into the world at 5:56pm.” “I remember it like it was yesterday.”
I used to think my Mom was sappy. I would listen to her stories every year on my birthday, but not understand why she felt the need to tell me about that morning in February so many years ago.
Every year, she would hold me in her lap, squeezing me into a soft, comfortable hug and tell me that I arrived quickly. My father almost delivered me. He ran around the hospital halls until he found someone who could help - a midwife. I was an easy delivery. She would stroke my hair and rest her chin on my head, wearing a smile on her face and a happy, distant look in her eye. She would look at me and grin, like this was one of her most favourite memories.
As a kid, I would smile back and wonder where the cake was.
Now, as a parent, I understand her need to tell her birth story each year.
Like every mother. We all remember every detail of each birth we went through. When we get together as new Moms and talk – the conversation almost inevitably turns to birth stories at some point. We listen and smile and nod and commiserate and relate about each one we hear. It bonds us.
We tell our stories proudly. And they’re many and varied. They’re happy. Scared. Painful. Emotional. Incredible. Inspiring. Difficult. They represent the moments our lives were forever changed.
We identify as wives, or sisters, or friends, or lovers of wine or coffee or yoga. But we all identify as mothers. We all have the stories that launched our journeys. The real. The raw. The moment we will never forget. And telling them is cathartic.
My daughter’s birthday is approaching. And once again the memories flood back.
That chilly winter evening. 5:56pm. My midwife and my husband encouraging me. Exhausted. Thinking she would never arrive after pushing for 2 hours.
And then… Then finally I did it. And I was looking at her perfect face. Holding her tiny body.
For all three of my daughters, the memories are very vivid. All different and unique. But all equally special. All equally a part of who I am. All connected in my heart and my very being.
Now I find myself holding my daughter in a soft hug, feeling tears welling up in my eyes. The beauty of that moment 6 years ago lost on her young, innocent mind.
I silently brush the back of my hand down the side of her soft cheek, recalling the first time I felt her perfect, soft baby skin. She looks at me with her bright, blue eyes, searching my face. Wondering what's wrong.
I smile at her and she smiles back. Assured that all is well.
I feel the urge to call my Mom.
“Tell me about the day I was born,” I say.
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