A Sweet Birthday
Book Review: Ammonite by Nicola Griffith

This Girl

When I was pregnant with Haley, right at the end there was a little scare where the doctor was worried that her growth had slowed down. A few stress-tests and ultrasounds later, he decided that everything was probably OK but that an induction would probably be best. (I have to add that I’m grateful I had babies when the philosophy was “let’s induce!” instead of how it is now, which is “wait until you’re 57 weeks pregnant and then we’ll think about it.” I would be pissed if I were some of my friends, who’ve had enormous, 11-pound babies. Kaleb, at almost 9, was a struggle to deliver and my body has never been the same.) When he was looking at his calendar, he said “what about Thursday, April 20th?”

“That’s my birthday,” I said.

“Oh, that would be so cute!” the nurse said. “She’d be like a birthday gift for you! And you could share your birthdays your whole life!”

But I already had a strong sense of who that baby would be. I had a feeling that she would want to have her own birthday. So I disappointed that nurse (who really: she was beaming, she loved that idea so much) and said “No, let’s do it on the next day if you can.”

The doctor had space that day, the nurse stopped beaming, and I had my daughter the day after my birthday.

1995 haley newborn with amy 2 4x6

She was still a gift, though.

One of the things I have loved about seeing my kids grow into adults is witnessing them becoming people. With each of my pregnancies, I had that same strong sense of each of their personalities, and in general it has proved true. But how they use those personalities has been so amazing to watch.

1996 easter haley and amy 4x6

That feeling I had about Haley was partly the idea that she would be independent. An adventurer. And that has been the case. She was never a clingy baby who couldn’t be away from me. She could play on her own; she was happy to be held by almost anyone (but she rejected any form of snuggling; you could hold her but she wanted to see what was going on) and she never seemed afraid of anything. When she was barely two, Kendell and I went to Hawaii for a week; she stayed with my mom and my mother-in-law and was happy and never cried about missing us.

Independent. Confident. Strong. An adventurer.

2002 mothers day haley and amy 4x6

Now she is having another birthday. Now she is in her twenties and living her life fully. She thrived in college, where she worked nearly full-time and still graduated with two majors and three minors. She is a great employee, even when she had a sexist and demeaning boss. She is passionate about her causes. She is a feminist through and through. She is smart—so smart. And she loves to travel; so far in her life she’s been to Canada, Mexico several times, Florida, many of the cities on the east coast, and Europe, including a semester in Spain.

IMG_5177 haley amy selfie

I still remember her face, though. Her face when they handed her to me, her baby face, her toddler face surrounded by her blonde curls. Her smile before her braces, her smile after. I will never not feel that same feeling I had at her birth: awe and gratitude and excitement at her existence.

I’m glad I followed my gut all those years ago, even if I disappointed the nurse. It was one of my first decisions as a mom, and while I’ve made many mistakes with other choices, that one was right. She needs her own day. I'm glad our birthdays are so close, though. I love that we can celebrate during the same weekend.

She will always be a gift in my life.

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