My Favorite Birthday Gift

Today is my youngest son’s 19th birthday. Years ago, when he was about 11, he was playing a numbers game out loud. “So when I’m 20, you’ll be how old?” I said, “Just add 40 to whatever age you are.” “Oh, right,” he replied. “So when I’m 40, you’ll be 80?” I nodded.

On May 3, 1999, I gave birth to Paul. It had been a difficult and challenging pregnancy but on that day, I was finally able to hold this beautiful baby boy in my arms. Two days later, May 5th, was my 40th birthday, but I remained in the hospital recuperating from a Cesarean section. My husband and older children visited me and brought me some small presents to open. James leaned down and whispered, “I feel badly that you have to be in the hospital on your birthday.” I shook my head and smiled. “No need to feel badly.” Then I kissed the beautiful, sleeping baby in my arms. “Because this is the best birthday present I could have ever received.”

My husband and I knew what we were getting into when we attempted pregnancy. Besides my history of miscarriages, we understood that I would be 40 years older than our youngest child. In many respects, I have been able to enjoy my youngest son more. Since he was my fifth child, I was comfortable with attachment parenting and didn’t feel the need to defend nursing my baby on demand and carrying him wherever I went.

My mother was 47 years old when she gave birth to my youngest sister. I remember the excitement in my mom’s voice when she showed me the “at home” pregnancy test. At the time, I was a rather cynical cafeteria Catholic, so I was a little taken aback with her positive reaction.

My youngest sister kept my mother “young” for years. As for me, I have never regretted the decision to be open to life at age 40. In fact, I have always thanked God for my “baby.”

Paul has remained my best birthday gift…ever!

copyright 2018 Ellen Gable Hrkach

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