On this day, 13 years ago, I went into labor.

I’m sure I’ve told the story a million times, but I’ll tell it again. The Tao of Bird was conceived as a “do-over.” Meaning, my hospital birth experience with his older brother was difficult, traumatic, and disempowering. It left me feeling like I needed to prove something. And while it can definitely be argued that’s not an incredibly good reason to have a child, I have absolutely no regrets. The experience I had with my midwife-assisted homebirth of TOB certainly did help me achieve the goal of having a wonderful, affirming, empowering birthing experience. It provided me with the strength I would need to deal with my disintegrating relationship with his father, who “broke up with me” when I was 7 months pregnant, and it produced such a wonderful, sweet, silly, smart, amazing little guy who I am watching grow into a decent man right before my eyes. Because there really aren’t enough decent men in the world. Do-overs abound!

Some highlights of TOB’s life up until now include:

My wonderful relationship with my midwife, Suzie Terwilliger, who is one of the most beautiful people I have ever met. I will forever remember the care and love she provided to me and my children during a very emotionally difficult pregnancy, birth, and postpartum period. I honestly don’t think I would have survived another hospital birth under the circumstances. I so totally needed that personal, sincere, emotional support way more than I needed the medical care.

My first words after TOB exited my womb: I did it!

Buddha the Grouch, TOB’s older brother, exclaiming “I’m glad all the ladies came and helped my baby brother to be born”

TOB, 3 years old, on a road trip…accidentally laying his head in a stranger’s lap in a restaurant waiting area (thinking it was me) – looking up, noticing it wasn’t me…looking at me, and saying “I LOVE the ladies!”

TOB, 4 years old, wandering around the house asking “Why am I alive inside this body?”

“Can I pinch your arm have?” – TOB’s way of asking to pinch the fat under my arm, which drove me INSANE the first 5 or so years of his life.

The time that TOB tried to “pinch the arm have” of my boyfriend. He was sucking on the fingers of his right hand like he always did…tried to pinch arm have…turned and looked up at my boyfriend, then me, took his fingers out of his mouth and said “Too skinny.”

Oh, my gosh…I could go on and on.

His nickname is the Tao of Bird. TOB’s attitude towards life is very much unintentionally taoist (is it possible to be intentionally taoist? That seems like an oxymoron.) While he does struggle with having a sensitive temperament that occasionally manifests as anxiety, he’s also very chill, introspective, and pretty fucking hilarious.

What words can a parent ever say or write to express the appropriate amount of appreciation for a child? That kiddo is one of my biggest heroes. His birth story was just the beginning. His presence in my life has inspired and strengthened me for the last 13 years. I’m totally excited to see how the rest of his life unfolds.