Once the small one’s due date had come and gone, one of the midwives at the clinic recommended having acupuncture to see if that would start the labour process moving. Now, if you know me well, you probably know that I have a strong, bordering on curmudgeonly, preference for conventional Western medicine, and don’t tend to go in for acupuncture, homeopathy, or anything else that isn’t strictly science-based. On the other hand, if you know me well you also know that I’m not the most patient person, and at that point I was willing to try anything to hasten the baby’s arrival (and avoid a medical induction). If I could travel back in time I’d tell myself to calm down and go to the movies or something, but that’s the thing about hindsight.
The appointment was actually quite pleasant – the acupuncturist was professional, welcoming and kind, and I was set up in a dimly-lit room with lots of cushions on the table for my by then rather unwieldy self. The best part was how I got to lie there for 20 minutes and relax while listening to ocean sounds after she stuck me full of needles (which only stung a little, thankfully). After the appointment I booked a second session to take place the day before I’d need to start going to the hospital for increased monitoring. Anyway, yadda yadda yadda, I went into labour three days later and had the baby two days after that so I didn’t end up needing to go back. And here’s the thing about having acupuncture to induce labour: labour is eventually going to happen anyway, and I was six days past my due date when it started. So on one hand, I could say “hey, that acupuncture really worked!” but on the other hand, I might choose to believe that it was just a coincidence because the whole natural/traditional medicine industry is a huge racket anyway with the sole aim of making me spend scads of money on herbs and placenta pills (which I also did, so … mission accomplished). Either way, I missed the follow-up appointment, which was fine because I didn’t need it, and the acupuncture clinic has probably added me to their stats as a successful case, which is also fine because it might be true and that’s how business works, right?
At this point you’re wondering where I’m going with this and it’s maybe not where you expected. Where I’m going is this: I’d put the whole acupuncture experience out of my mind (not deliberately, I just forgot about it) until a few days ago when they emailed me to wish me a happy birthday. My birthday’s coming up on the 21st, and it turns out this clinic offers a discount if you come in on or near your birthday. The discount percentage is equivalent to the number of years you’re turning, which is kind of a neat idea, although given that people tend to become more financially established as they get older, it’s maybe not the best from a social justice/sliding scale point of view. That said, I’m on mat leave and I’ll take all the discounts I can get, though I’d probably only go for this one if I were turning 100 because my current budget for acupuncture is zero dollars, zero cents. At any rate, I thought it was interesting and hey, 35% off is a nice gesture. And then I thought … 35% off means I’m going to be 35. Then I had three more thoughts:
- Wait, I’m not 35 yet?
- Why do I keep forgetting my age lately?
- 35 is kind of a big birthday, isn’t it? I mean, not 40 big, but bigger than 34. So, at the very least it’s a medium birthday and maybe I should order Chinese takeout or something.
In a way, every birthday is a big one because it means we got to stick around for another year. And these years, they just keep passing. Sometimes I feel like I’m still 22, until I remember I’m not. I’m grateful that I’m not 22 anymore. 22 was hard, and would be extra hard today, I think. Your whole life on the internet since you were 10 years old…. And then I think of my small one and how the world will look for her in 22 years. Or in 35. Will she still feel small? I still feel small, and sometimes lost, and usually like everyone else has it together while I’m just starting to try to figure things out. And I’ll probably still feel like I’m just beginning at 70, when she’s 35. Life, right? It’s wonderful and confusing and drawn-out and fleeting and vibrant and messy and delicate.
So here’s to 35, and here’s to getting older. We are incredibly lucky to be here.
Let’s take our time with it.