Friday, October 17, 2014

It's My Birthday

Well, it was.  Yesterday.  I just didn't get this post written last night.

I didn't even think about the fact that it was my birthday until afternoon.

I began the day exhausted.  That fibro-fatigue that just leaves me feeling so drained that just walking to the kitchen for something to drink feels like a 10-mile hike.  I took Isaac out to pee and went back to bed.  I got up a few hours later, took Isaac out again, fed him, fixed myself a protein shake, and went back to bed.  It was about 1:00 pm before I actually got myself moving.  Then I moved all the way from the couch to the bathroom, where I spent half an hour soaking in a hot bath, trying to loosen up my stiff and painful joints.

After my bath, I took Isaac out for a two-mile hike.  It was while we were hiking that it occurred to me that it was my birthday.

For the most part these days, my birthday is not a particularly special day to me.  A couple friends wished me happy birthday on Facebook.  That's it.  No gifts, no cards, no phone calls.  It's OK.  I'm used to that.  I think it's because I don't have any family anymore and I don't have many close friends. 

And you know, holidays are similar.  I don't get a lot of Christmas gifts or do special things like have a big dinner for Thanksgiving.  If I want something special to do, I do it myself.  Like last Thanksgiving, I volunteered at the soup kitchen and last Christmas, I made myself and Isaac and Cayenne a special breakfast.  So if I wanted something special for my birthday, I would have done something special.

But I went on a trip out of town last week and I decided I would consider that my birthday gift to myself.

I'm not depressed about the fact that no one is throwing me parties and baking me birthday cakes.  I'm just explaining why I didn't even remember it was my birthday until mid-afternoon.

So while I was hiking with Isaac, I thought about the fact that it was my birthday.  And I wondered if my mother thought of me at all that day. 

I thought about that fact that, 43 years ago, my mother might have been in labor with me.  I mean, obviously at some point on the day I was born, she was in labor.  But I don't know if she had a long labor or a short labor.  So when Isaac and I were hiking at 3:00 pm, I didn't know if my mother would have been in labor at that time or not.  I know that I was born very late at night, just a few minutes before midnight.  It was my mother's first pregnancy and birth (as far as I know).  So it probably was not a very short labor.  She was probably in labor at 3:00 pm.  But I don't know for sure.

I started thinking about what I do know about my birth, as well as about all the things I don't know.  I know my mother had spinal anesthesia for my birth.  I know that in those days, women labored in one room, then were moved to a delivery room, which was similar to an OR, right before the birth.  I know that unlike epidurals, spinals were given right before delivery.  That's one of the reasons epidurals are used now instead of spinals. 

I know that my father was not allowed in the room for the delivery.  When my sister was born two-and-a-half years later, my mother had a natural birth and one of the reasons she chose a natural birth was so that her husband, my father, could be there for the delivery.  Apparently fathers were only allowed if women had natural births and if the couple had attended Lamaze classes together during the pregnancy.

Was he allowed in the labor room, before she was moved to the delivery room, before she got her spinal?  I don't know.  Probably not.  I think visitors were usually not allowed in labor rooms back then but I don't know that for sure.  What would it have been like for her, in labor, all alone?  She was 22 years old, I think, when she had me.  And she had not taken any kind of prenatal classes.  She would have known very little about labor and birth.  She would have been unprepared to deal with the pain.  And remember, she wouldn't have gotten the spinal until the last minute.  She would have felt all the labor pain.

My mother told me that the maternity ward was really busy the night I was born.  It took them a long time to move her to a patient room after my birth.  They didn't want to bring her the baby - me - until they moved her.  She kept asking, then insisting, that they bring her the baby.  Finally, they did.  I don't know how long that took, though.  What did that mean to her, and to me, being separated for those first hours?

Oh, I don't think that moms and babies must be together immediately after the birth in order to bond or anything like that.  I know even adoptive moms and babies can bond.  But still, what did it mean?

I wish now that I'd asked my mother more about my birth.  It just never seemed important before and now it's too late to ask her.

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