That Night, Six Years Ago

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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—


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”)


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. Joyeux anniversaire grand Mark! Je suis morte de rire en lisant sa réflexion sur les (tes) sous-vêtements. L’autre jour, je rentre dans la salle de bains, prête à me doucher, super fatiguée d’une nuit trop courte, et Tempête me lance «Je peux voir ton pénis?». Mon chum s’est moqué parce qu’au lieu de la reprendre sur cette demande super inappropriée et de lui faire la leçon en mode «ne demande jamais ça à qui que ce soit», j’ai juste répondu «Désolée, je n’en ai pas». 😉

    • I think we were both a bit freaked out but we didn’t want to show each other we were scared. For some reason, I felt in control actually (unlike the rest of the pregnancy). I knew what I had to do and I felt ready for it. Of course, looking back, I had no idea what I was doing but innocence is good in such cases!

  2. Happy belated birthday Mark!
    I like how you tell this story, you have a lot of memories that’s awesome.
    And cute.
    Kds have their way of making you look bad, like really bad.
    I freaked out the first time my oldest said IN PUBLIC that I threw him against the wall and hurt him describing it like he was knocked out from the shock.
    He was three. I still don’t know what he was talking about.

    • Oh boy… when Mark was at daycare, he went through a phase where he would scream “stop HURTING ME!” when I’d put on his shoes and his jacket at pickup time 😆

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