Yesterday my Geekygirl was four years old. Four years ago I became "Mummy". Sometime subsequently I morphed into "Mommy", but we'll fix that one day! I remember this day four years ago so well. Id been up most of the night with mild contractions (well I know now that they were mild, at the time they were a little alarming), and our doula Germaine popped around mid morning to see how we were getting on. She assured me there was a way to go, and I busied myself with planting out my flower bed between contractions (because the baby was coming and the garden was NOT beautiful. I was adamant it be pretty for our child. Oh, the power of those hormones!)
I've told the story of her birth before, but I always relive and and remember different bits, it was such a fantastic experience. We were so fortunate. I expect all mothers think back over the details of the day we met our child at every birthday, and it must be so difficult if those details are traumatic. I've become a bit of a 'birth activist', because I hope every first time mum has the kind of experience I did.
After labouring at home for maybe just a little too long, and thus going through the transition part of labour in the back of the car, we arrived at the hospital in time to push. After a moment of panic when a misunderstanding of Germaine's Irish accent had the hospital staff thinking the baby was breech, they got us into a delivery suite, dusted off the birthing stool and the gas and air machine (not often used in US hospitals), and between puffs of nitrous and spoonfuls of mango sorbet (kudos to UCSF for allowing laboring women to eat!) I pushed Geekygirl into the world. They got me up on the bed for the actual delivery, and my overriding memory is of nurse, doula, husband and doctor holding my legs and urging me to relax them. Now I'm not a very relaxed person. In all the prep for labor and delivery that Germaine and I had done I had never once achieved the ideal state of leg relaxation, necessary to ensure all of that pushing energy went to the right place. Pushing I was confident in, but leg relaxing was beyond me. Between contractions I asked everyone "Will the baby still come even if I can't relax my legs?". I was assured that it would, and sure enough next big push she was out. "Its a girl".
She was beautiful from that very first moment. I couldn't stop looking at her smooth wide forehead, tiny nose, rosebud mouth and bottomless eyes. Starry eyed, on the phone to my family and friends I told them that she wasn't squashed looking at all like other people's babies (though photographic evidence says otherwise, my Mummy's eyes could see nothing but perfection). She looked just like her dad, with his fine Scandinavian bone structure. It vanished for a while under baby and toddler pudgy cuteness, but has slowly revealed itself again as she streamlines into a lean leggy girl. Her face looks more like her newborn self now than she has in the past four years, and when I watch her sleep I see that tiny baby face in her four year old features. I love to watch her change over time, always so beautiful, and wish I could freeze her forever at every stage. Well except maybe the three and a half year old scratching, screaming and biting stage, thank goodness that is past.
At four she is such a person now. A person with strong opinions and a quick temper. A vivid imagination, a kind heart and a prodigous capacity for language. I remember when I first saw that flash of temper. She was about two months old and trying to nurse through a cold. The milk wasn't letting down and she was frustrated. The fierce, angry expression in her sea green eyes startled me. I thought maybe I was mistaken, that a baby couldn't have emotions so powerful, but in the years since I've seen that expression many, many times. Now she can express her feelings with words, can recognize her anger taking over and step away. She is becoming so mature and lovely, the rage filled tantrums slipping into the past along with her chubby thighs.
We had a wonderful day together yesterday. Geekygirl is very picky about clothes, particularly how they feel rather than what they look like, so only has a few things she really likes to wear, and nothing "special" for parties, most "dressy up" dresses being too scratchy. She loves clothes, but usually I shop for her, online or at Target during lunch. Her birthday treat was a trip to "the Children's place" to choose some clothes for herself. Maybe four is a little young for a birthday shopping trip, but we all enjoyed it, I love to shop, so though it sounds like an indulgence for a kid so young, it was a treat for me too. I rarely get to shop for myself, but get perhaps even more pleasure shopping for her. Afterward the kids ran around Yerba Beuna Gardens, a lovely plaza in San Francisco, and had lunch at Mel's diner, milkshakes and fries. We also rode the carousel, and my brand new four year old announced with birthday confidence that since she was four now, she would ride on one of the horses that moved up and down. Happy birthday my wild, sweet, funny, confident angel.
Here she is leaping from the fountain in the gardens front of the SF museum of modern art.