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That Night, Six Years Ago

Six years ago, on Thursday, October 11, 2012, I went to bed tired after promising Feng we would eat out on Saturday or Sunday night for his birthday. He didn’t mind—he doesn’t care that much about milestones and I think we were both busy with work that week.

Besides, we still have leftovers from the Thanksgiving dinner I had cooked from scratch earlier in the week. I have no idea why I had decided to make stuffed peppers, roasted meat and an apple pie that year, but I can explain the leftovers—there was enough food to feed an extended Chinese family even though it was just the two of us… well, Feng alone, really, because the only food I was craving was celery. Pregnancy cravings are random—I got celery and pickles. Rest assured I no longer cook elaborated Thanksgiving dinners and celery is a regular veggie I enjoy a few times a week, not at every meal. Side note, the last time Mark ate celery, it was passed across the placenta.

So that Thursday, I worked and went to bed. And I wouldn’t have remembered that evening and the few hours that followed if, past midnight, I hadn’t felt those weird cramps again. “Damn Braxton-Hicks contractions,” I moaned, half-asleep.

“False labour” is a thing and I was used to it by then because I was almost nine months pregnant.

At this time of the night, the baby—gender a surprise, two name options—was usually kicking and dancing. “Are you there?” I whispered. Nothing. At least someone was sleeping.

I lay awake in bed, staring at the clock. “Funny, contractions are exactly five minutes apart,” I noted at one point.

Oh, shit. Maybe it was the real deal.

I woke Feng up (“ahem… forgot to give you a birthday present… well, it’s coming…”) and then we did the most illogical things ever—he shaved and I finished some work while eating chips from the bag. I was feeling perfectly fine between contractions, a few seconds of intense pain and then back to normal and repeat.

I didn’t want to show up at the hospital and be told to come back later, so we waited.

At one point, I threw a t-shirt, a change of underwear and baby clothes in a gym bag and I stated it was time to go. It was strange ride. The city was asleep, it was just the two of us. I remember thinking how crazy it was, that we were about to welcome a brand new human being into the world.

“Shit, I really hope this is labour,” I kept on saying.

It was. In fact, active labour was well underway.

A few hours later, at 11:04 a.m. on Friday, we met Mark for the first time.

And now, looking at him, I can’t help wondering about the miracle of life, the fact that he grew inside me, the—

“JUST STOP WATCHING SCARY MOVIES, MARK! I CAN HEAR YOUTUBE PLAYING, I’M NOT STUPID!”

Gee, where was I…

Oh yeah, Mark is turning six today.

Great age, six.

Although, you probably want to make sure you don’t leave your Kindle lying around. I left mine by the TV during the power outage and when I opened it the next day, I noticed that someone had typed “scary book” in the search bar and had pulled out my entire Stephen King collection because someone is a bit obsessed with It and an ill-advised mother may have said “if you learn how to read, you can pick any book you like!”

You should shop alone as well. Last weekend, we stopped at the mall and since we walked by La vie en rose, I decided to pop into the store and buy panties because there was a 5-for-$30 deal. It was a quick errand, really. I just had to pick the right size (M) and the colour (anything but beige)—no sexy lingering this time, just regular bikinis I didn’t even need to try on.

“Yeah, you go ahead, I’ll wait for you outside,” Feng said.

This is exactly why I don’t buy sexy lingerie in the first place.

“Okay! Mark, come with me.”

He could have stayed with Feng but since he was holding my hand, I took him with me.

Except Mark wasn’t happy to take a detour before going to Chapters.

“Why? Why are we going there?”

“I’ll be a minute, I just need to buy underwear.”

“For you? But you NEVER wear underwear!” he replied very loudly once inside the store.

I have no idea why he said that. The best explanation I can come up with is that he never considered the fact that, like him, once in a while, I need to buy panties, socks, t-shirts, etc. because I tend to shop alone.

And I swear that despite my French accent and very European “anything goes” attitude, I do wear underwear because frankly, why wouldn’t I?

So yeah, it should be a fun year with a six-year-old.

Happy birthday, Mark. You’ve been looking forward to being 6 for almost a year now.

No, we can’t pretend you’re ten. Sorry.

A few days before his birthday, I asked Mark to draw us and write what makes him happy (“Being together”)

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