It is our son's fourth birthday this week and we will have a great time, the day will be about him and celebrating his life. The day before it however, I like to celebrate myself and what happened on the day I struggled to give birth. I know I have only been through it the once but I bet others who have been through it many times can still recall each and every one?
My son was born a few minutes after midnight and that is the day we call his birthday, the day before is my Labour Day. For the last three years I have been out for cocktails or a champagne lunch, or spent time going over it with girlfriends. Why not celebrate what we go through to produce our children instead of sweeping it under the carpet?
There is no common labour experience, every single birth is unique. But what is more common is that it is usually quickly forgotten about, and sometimes with good reason. I too, after the initial shock of what had happened, didn't really dwell on it for too long and focussed only the new arrival and our new life together.
It wasn't until the day before our son's very first birthday that I started thinking about how exactly a year before I had been in labour. A day I had achieved a huge amount and lived through an experience I'd never have believed I could cope with. But I just hadn't thought about it. We remember and commemorate anniversaries so I decided to have a drink to toast myself as I recalled the Herculean effort on my part, and everyone around me, to bring our child into the world. So before embarking on birthday celebrations for our son I had some personal ones to congratulate myself for really a remarkable achievement. And have done the years since.
Yes many babies are born every day and it is the most natural thing in the world (and there is amazing medical attention that saves lives today that years ago would have been lost) but it isn't without risk, emotion or effort and shouldn't be taken lightly or forgotten, least of all by those who have gone through it.
Remembering the laughter, pain, boredom, frustration and danger of a day in labour I am reminded of how amazing my body is and just what I am capable of. And that is certainly worth celebrating, even if only once a year.