It is my daughter's 6th birthday today. As most children do, she has been asking HOW MANY MORE DAYS UNTIL I AM SIX since the day after she turned five. I tried to quantify it for her by saying months, weeks, days, or telling her not until the fall, or after you go back to school, then it will be your birthday time. She would never be satisfied with my explanations because the only correct answer and the only one she really wanted to hear was YES TODAY YOU ARE SIX. So today, as I lay smooshed in a dazed heap in my bed, pillows slammed against my head in an attempt to mute the Saturday lawn heroes, she flung the bedroom door wide. She jumped on my bed, started swinging from the black steel frame like a small pretty monkey, and announced MAMA, I AM SIX NOW!

MMMPPHHH, I said, fuzzily gazing at her without my glasses. Yes, sweetie, yes you are. Now get out. HA HA.

It was not easy to get Miss Six on her way to the planet. Months to get pregnant, months on extra progesterone, months laying dizzy and sick on the couch while my brother-in-law and husband took the two older kids to school and back. Months where I had to ask the 11-year-old to make a peanut butter sandwich for the 4-year-old because I was puking and couldn't leave the bathroom. Then, when I felt better, what? Gestational diabetes! OH YAY, RESTRICTED DIET AND FOUR TIMES DAILY BLOOD CHECKS! WOOOOOOOO! But you know. You deal. Some women have it worse. You just go on, and wait.

She was the only one of my kids to be induced, which was a vastly different experience than the previous ambulance and desperate-car rides to the hospital. It was so civilized, just checking into the hospital on the appointed day, six years ago today on a sunny Friday morning after the boys went to school. A veteran by now, I was used to the poking and prodding and indignities. Let's just get ON with it.

The morning passed, as did the afternoon. Nothing much happening. Bored, I watched the TV hung across from the uncomfortable birthing bed, read some magazines, talked on the phone. COMEONCOMEONCOMEON! When you are anticipating hideous unbearable pain, it's hard to wait and wait, like you are Granny and any moment The Big Bad Wolf is going to knock politely on your door, ask to come in, then chomp you into bloody pieces. It's best just to get it over with.

Irritated, I watched the sun go down over the hospital parking garage. Calls were made to have the boys collected from school, fed, and babysat. The contractions had started, but they were bearable. The med student looking at my chart said, wow, you are like 6 centimeters and you aren't asking for drugs or yelling? Wait, I said, just wait. There will be no drugs, but there will be screams. Of this I am certain.

My husband was hungry and asked if he could be excused to go get some dinner at the cafeteria. Yes yes, go, I said, I am fine, go eat, nothing to see here, people, move along now. After he had been gone for about 10 minutes, my daughter's evil sense of humor then kicked in, via serious contractions. These are the ones where you close your eyes and the world goes black and you imagine this is what a kind of death feels like, being pulled apart by horses, or having a small grenade in your stomach. Yet millions of women over thousands of years have done this. WTF is what I have to say 'bout that.

My husband made it back in time for the ear-shattering decibel festival that started arising out of my primal life-giving guts. The med student looked pained, and that made me smile a little, when the contractions eased for a second. I got to that point where I said I couldn't do it, I couldn't take it anymore,whimpering like a mewling kitten, begging for it all to JUST STOP. But back in the recesses of my mind, way way back, and even stronger than the piteous kitten was the core of me, knowing I could do this, and soon enough it would be over. I roared in fury and effort, and pushed my daughter into the world, along with other less attractive bodily items.

She was born, she was here, asking in her mind I bet, WHEN WILL I BE ONE?

Happy Birthday, Pretty Monkey.