It’s my birthday today. Yey! And in normal circumstances, I’d celebrate by having lunch with my colleagues if I go to work, or I’d pamper myself if I take a leave off work. Then I’d have a special dinner with my family on a weekend before or after my birthday. But today, I’m spending it on a hospital bed, for the first time in my life! My only consolation is that the special dinner menu today (which is different everyday), luckily includes a steak, so I ordered it and will try to enjoy it tonight… on my own.

Traditionally, most of us celebrate our birthdays by having a party or preparing special food, and receiving gifts from people who care for us. Before my dad passed away, we would have the same conversation on my birthday every year: I’d ask, “So where’s my gift?” And he’d say, “Well, where’s MY gift? You didn’t know that on your birthday you’re the one who should give gifts to your parents to thank them?” Then I’d say, “I don’t know where that happens, but in this part of the world, traditionally, parents give their children gifts. So, hand it over!”

Of course I was just kidding and I’m sure my dad was just joking too. But, thinking about what I went through with my first pregnancy, and what I’m going through now with my second, as well as hearing the stories of friends and other patients here, I started to think that perhaps, my dad had a point…

Getting pregnant is first and foremost not always easy. Many couples struggle and experience emotional and mental distress before they finally get pregnant, while others have no choice but to give up. And even when women do get pregnant, there’s no guarantee that they will be able to keep the baby. For those who wanted, and were fortunate to keep them, they will undergo months of life-changing experiences. Some will have healthy pregnancies and breeze through, while others will experience mild to very worrying complications. Some like me, even end up in the hospital, and a few, sadly loses the pregnancy.

As for the partners, they take on extra work and responsibilities to help moms-to-be maintain a healthy pregnancy, or support them during difficult ones. My husband for example, has been a working “single father” to our son for almost 3 months now. So there is a lot of extra effort put in by both sides during the pregnancy stage. And once women get to the giving birth stage, some will experience excruciating pain and some will have risky labor. So even up to this point, though there’s a high success rate, there’s still an unfortunate small possibility that the baby will not be born successfully.

So if we think about it, as disheartening as this sounds, not all couples can get pregnant even if they really want to, and despite all the effort, not all pregnancies end successfully. So us being born in this world is indeed, a miracle, and truly deserves to be celebrated. And the hardships our parents go through during that period, and even after we’re born when they start raising us, we can never fully empathize with until we experience them ourselves. So yes, I think I can agree with my dad now — perhaps we do owe our parents a “thank you” on our birthdays. Although I’m still not sure about the gift part…

I do recognize that this post may not apply to everyone. Yet I’d like to believe that we all have someone that we could thank as we grow another year older. šŸ™‚

5 thoughts on “Birthdays

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