I believe that every birthday is a milestone. Birthday milestones shouldn’t be measured only in terms of getting drivers licenses, reaching legal age or even decades. In fact, every single day of our life provides a milestone.
As a young child, I recall many a birthday party celebrated at my home on Brock Street. A half dozen or so friends would come over. We’d play pin the tail on the donkey, the lifesaver game and lotto. We’d sing songs and play with dolls. My mom was an excellent baker and a creative cake decorator. Homemade zoo animal cookies would often adorn these cakes and I always looked forward to these treats.
I have vivid memories of my sweet sixteen. My mother made an afternoon tea for me, complete with party sandwiches and two cakes…………one cake the number one and one the number six. This time it was a Jeannie’s cake as approximately fifty friends filled the house.
And then there was a blur of birthdays until the one in 1981. That was my first birthday as a mother. And it was awesome having my baby accompany us on the traditional dinner out.
Unfortunately not all birthday memories were happy ones. In 1996 my mom had gone in for knee replacement surgery. She was supposed to come home on my birthday. Instead, she wound up in ICU that day and passed away five weeks later.
For several years after, it was a struggle to celebrate my birthday. We’d go out for dinner, but I always felt that cloud hanging over me. Over time that cloud began to lift and I found myself in cities such as Culiacan, Guadalajara and Mazatlan on my birthday.
Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine celebrating my 65th in a small town in Washington. But here I am, far away from the flat prairies of Manitoba. And I wonder where I will be next year at this time, because every birthday is a milestone.
Thirty-four years ago today I was in the early stages of labor with my first child. Although physically I was in agony, emotionally I was excited. All these months of carrying this baby in utero were about to end. I was finally going to meet this tiny creature who had caused me so much nausea and discomfort. My sleepless nights were over, or so I mistakenly thought. In actuality, they would continue for several more weeks.
My bag had been packed for weeks in anticipation of this event. Gleefully I grabbed it and headed for the car. A short fifteen minute drive later, I was at the hospital and was escorted via a wheelchair to the maternity ward. Thankfully I had already completed the pre-admission process.
Misericordia Hospital in Winnipeg was an old building with standard delivery rooms. Birthing rooms had not yet been invented, at least not in this hospital. The room I was in contained little more than a bed and some monitoring equipment. And of course there were the obligatory crucifixes adorning the wall as a group of nuns had originally founded this facility. And indeed several were still on staff the day I delivered.
I arrived at the hospital that morning, anticipating an experience similar to the one that had been described in pre-natal classes. However it soon became evident that this was not to be. Each shift of nurses assured me that I was fully dilated and that nature would take its course. The doctor advised that the next procedure was to break my waters as time had passed and this hadn’t happened. That was fine with me. I was growing impatient.
But hours later I was still having very regular and extremely painful contractions. I was nauseous and exhausted. While my husband was comfortably seated in a waiting room watching The Grey Cup (Canada’s version of The Superbowl), I was in hell. To his credit he did come in to sit with me occasionally to coach me in my breathing, but no way was he suffering like I was.
At around midnight my doctor started talking C-Section. I was not impressed. I wanted a natural childbirth as I had prepared for in the pre-natal classes. By some miracle, (possibly my baby realized my exasperation), my son turned and moments later the head crowned. My son Kyle Isaac entered the world at 12:25 am on November 24th.
Rooming in was not an option in those days. Every few hours a nurse would bring my baby into my room for me to nurse. And those quiet times were treasures. He would look up at me with his gorgeous brown eyes that spoke volumes. “You brought me into this scary world so please take care of me.”
And I have done my best to care for him and help him grow over the years. Nursing him, hearing his first words and watching his first steps were only the beginning. He started school and then took skating, swimming and piano lessons. He joined Beavers and then Cub Scouts. And he discovered five-pin bowling which became his focus for many years. He learned to play the clarinet and then became a sensational drummer. Riding his first bike all too soon began driving his first car. After several graduations, he has settled comfortably into a career as a Chartered Accountant. And just over two years ago he had his first house built.
Kyle, I am so very proud of you and all that you have accomplished. The difficult pregnancy and painful labor were well worth it. I couldn’t ask for a better and more loving son.
We may live thousands of miles apart but when I talk to you on the phone tomorrow, the distance will vanish. I love you and I hope that all your wishes and dreams come true next year and always.