Letter to my daughter on her 12th birthday

My lovely girl,

One dozen years old today! Tonight, as in the past, we will watch home movies of you as a baby and marvel at how the time has flown and how young and relaxed we look. Home movies of the day you were born and the nurses couldn’t believe how much curly hair you had, and of your first hiccups, and your first steps, and the day you stood up and Uncle B told us how much trouble we were in, and the day you met your baby brother, and your hilarious tantrum, and your first soccer game.

And I watch all these little snapshots of your life with pride and joy – and yet there is a sharp pain in the general vicinity of my sternum ‘coz I just wish I had taken more time to enjoy it. But now since you’re a pre-teen and everything I do and say probably embarrasses you, as a special treat I’m going to tell you about the day you were born.

It was a heady time in 2002 – I had just successfully defended my PhD thesis – officially my first baby – after 8 long years. Dad and I were planning a trip to New Zealand to celebrate, I was looking for a job, we were going to get a puppy and move and buy a house. What could possibly derail our fool proof plan?! It was a few days after Christmas and we had come home slightly inebriated from a party with college friends. Inebriated and frisky and…..oh wait! Sorry, I was going to tell you about the day you were born not the day you were con..ummm….never mind! I’ll just let the following meme do the explaining….you’re welcome! September babies

Moving right along in the timeline – it’s a brand new year now and I’ve joined a workout class at the community center. A few weeks into my class, nothing’s changing on the scale, I’m standing with both my feet on flat ground when suddenly…..I fall down on my ass! So, to review, I’m just standing …. and then I’m not, I’m on the ground. Now, I’m not the most coordinated person in the world but up to that point I really thought I had totally nailed standing! I’m also not a person who’s the most in tune with my own body but the whole inability to stand thing was bothering me.

Dad was on a business trip somewhere fancy like…Niles or Lodi or Schaumberg. So I went into the Jewel Osco and pick out a two-pack of a pregnancy test. The lovely clerk asks – “what are we hoping for” and I say “either way is ok with me” – but that’s not quite true because part of me is having a silent but significant panic attack.

And now the fun part – I go home and pee on the stick. Oh stop wrinkling your nose and saying “ewww, MOM” you puritanical child- it’s just pee! Sheesh! I am supposed to wait two minutes but that second line is throbbing blue almost in sync with my accelerated heart rate! Oh holy shitballs – I’m pregnant!! I call Dad in his glamorous Holiday Inn or Marriott or some such generic hotel and we do a happy dance – an oh-shit-we-cant-believe-this-just-happened happy dance!

Ok, I realize I said that I’m going to tell you about the day you were born and I haven’t yet got to it yet but bear with me here. Someday you will understand the importance of back story and narrative freedom and the fact that your mom is old and likes to meander. So quickly moving forward through a wonderfully uneventful pregnancy during which I became vegan for the first trimester, turned into a raving carnivore in my second trimester, suffered the worst heart burn of my life through the entire 9 months, hiked a glacier in New Zealand, and almost divorced your dad as we sea kayaked in the Tasman Sea – and it’s the 12th of September – your official due date.

And since that’s when the doctor said you were due and that’s what I had planned, I just stayed home and expected that that’s the day you would arrive. And yes, in retrospect now that was foolish but at that point I had been the master of my fate and captain of my soul – that last one is from a beautiful poem called Invictus and I’d suggest you read it because it’s magnificent! But I digress once more….

So I was waiting and Dad was waiting and Aji was quilting as she waited and then suddenly…..nothing happened. Aaaaand nothing happened the next day. And you know what a patient person I am so I was ready to chew my arm off by the night of the 13th of September. So when I woke up at 4 am the next morning with contractions 5 minutes apart that didn’t go away – I was elated – nervous and apprehensive, but elated! The next few hours flew by in a blur of hospital rooms and epidurals and random people getting up in my business with nary a concern for my more delicate sensibilities – of course at that time I had no delicate sensibilities so I can’t really fault them!

And the big moment of pushing came and I swear I tried but, what I didn’t know at the time was that, I was pushing a baby out with a head that would set the new 100th percentile on head size and who also wanted to keep her perfect features intact and so was trying to make her entrance into the world face first! So it’s time for my emergency C-section and suddenly there’s a flurry of activity as my body is numbed and my head starts spinning and they wheel me into a surgical room and there are 75 people in my room as I am trying not to throw up. And my doctor says “you’re going to feel a little pressure now” – which is like telling someone who is going to be waterboarded “you’re going to get a little wet now“!

And suddenly at 7:10 pm you’re out and they hold you up and you’re not crying. But your eyes are open and you’re looking right at me. And I don’t know if this is the low blood pressure or violent upchucking or hormones – but I swear it’s like you said, as clearly as possible, “about damn time mom – what the hell were you waiting for!” And I thought – wow, this potty-mouthed little kid is definitely mine! I don’t remember much about the next few minutes. I guess they patched me up and un-numbed me and put you into my arms …and all was well with the world.

So for you today on your birthday – your current favorite songs:

Remember, I will always love you




  1. This is so charming. I wish my mom had written something similar. I know very little about my birth except that my 4 years older sister kept insisting I was a boy and wanted to name me Bobby Jerry! Ha. Thanks for sharing this. My answer to the prompt was a bit more pessimistic, yet optimistic in the grand scheme of things. Don’t let it get you down from the high of your own post!!! http://judydykstrabrown.com/2015/09/14/its-not-all-about-us/

  2. Dear Samhita, you really have lovely way with words. Very beautifully written account. All the tensions, apprehensions, & of course the total unexpectedness has come out most succinctly. Keep it up.

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