If I’m Sterile Abraham, I guess the Mrs. is clean-womb Sarah.
Well, it’s Sarah’s birthday today. More than 19 and less than 40 years ago, my wife came into this world. (What kind of a husband do you think I am? I’m not telling you my wife’s age.)
Luckily our society’s focus on birthdays-as-celebrations should help us avoid thinking too deeply about what the day really represents. I got her a number of nice gifts. She knows about a couple of them and has a couple more surprises on the way. It is one of her regularly-scheduled days off and I’m taking the day off to join her in the celebration.
Maybe it’s not this way for parents — especially when it comes to their children’s birthdays — but I find it funny how little I imagine someone’s birth when I hear that it’s his or her birthday. I guess that if I’d been present, I would remember it. On my brother’s birthday, I remember that is the day that I got my hand slammed in the car door while my dad was dropping us off at grandpa’s house. I remember that the x-rays said I have no broken bones and that I got to see my brother before any of my siblings since I had to go to the hospital anyways.
So I’d like to take a moment to “remember” (read: “imagine”) my wife’s birth. (I will try to do this with as little contemplation of my mother-in-law’s vagina as possible.)
My in-laws don’t seem to have had any trouble conceiving. I know theirs wasn’t a shotgun wedding and that they were both virgins on their wedding day, but clean-womb Sarah’s older brother was born nine months to the day of their wedding. Sarah came just over two years later.
My in-laws were living in a small town. One traffic light, two traffic lights? I don’t know. But it was a small town. One hospital. For all intents and purposes, one doctor to deliver babies.
My mother-in-law probably checked in to the hospital sometime in the late night or extremely early hours of the morning. She often comments that labor isn’t particularly hard on her. (Kidney stones, she says are several times more painful than childbirth and within two hours of her last child’s birth, she asked her husband to take her home.) After disliking the effects of an epidural, my wife’s was her first drugless childbirth.
In the early morning hours, the hospital called the doctor at his home to tell him that his patient would be having her baby soon. He came to the hospital in his slippers and delivered my wife into this world. To the surprise of my mother-in-law, the baby was a girl. She had refused to have any of the obstetricians or ultrasound technicians tell her whether the baby would be a boy or a girl, preferring the “surprise.” (Personally, I think the word is misused here. It’s pretty much a 50/50 shot. When’s the last time you flipped a coin and screamed “It’s heads! I totally didn’t see that coming. What a surprise”?) But she convinced herself (because the last baby was a boy? because of the way the fetus kicked? because she read some weird article about how eating a lot of ice cream during the pregnancy will make it male?) that she knew the baby would be a boy to the extent that she would not even discuss girl names with her husband, who picked one out on his own (cherry-picked from movies credits) and told it to his wife as she was pushing. Personally, I’m glad that she came out as a girl. (Though I would be pretty great at being gay.)
At 5:06 AM, my wife was born.
“To be born”: It’s the most culturally-acceptable passive voice phrase in the English language and it’s probably the only one that is loved to be used by me. (See, passive voice just doesn’t work, people. Cut it out.) I can’t wait to talk about when our little one “will be born” or to tell people what date s/he “was born on.”
It’s wonderful to remember that every single human being you ever see was born. He was inside his mother. She was once attached by umbilical cord. You think he looks dirty now? You should have seen him two seconds after he popped out of a hole between his momma’s legs. You don’t like her now? Well, she used to be a vulnerable, adorable little miracle. And on people’s birthdays, that greatest unifying experience is definitely worth celebrating.
I’ve never cared much for celebrating my birthday. But that’s probably largely because I’ve never been into surprises, I don’t like being the center-of-attention and I think that cookies kick cake’s butt any day of the week and twice on Sundays. I’ve always loved celebrating the birthdays of people I love though. Thank God my little brother made it full-term. Thank God my parents were able to give birth to my two incredible sisters.
And thank God that 19-40 years ago today (I’ll never tell), my wonderful wife came into this world. She was born.
Finally: Thank God that someday, I’ll have a less passive voice sentence to say about the birth of a human being that I love. Thank God that someday my wife will birth (note the active verb) a wonderful miracle. (Otherwise, I’ll run out of things to say on this blog.)