Here we are, 3 days to the end of the year and guess what? It’s Birthday time again! Yes, it’s that time of year where I brag about that one child of mine born on this particular day, the 28th of December, 1991.
Lars drove me up to the Matilda Memorial & War Hospital on the 27th of December, to spend my final night as a mother of two little girls. 12 hours later (yes, I shall spare you the details of my third C-section), I had in my arms a beautiful baby boy, our lovely little Michael.
Michael’s first school photo
I had shown the ultra-sound photos to Lars a few months earlier, even though he didn’t want to know the sex of our third and final babe. He took one look at a clear image of the baby’s face and declared, “we’re having another girl, she looks just like Gillian!”. This news would have crushed our building’s watchman, as he had been praying daily for us to be graced with a boy.
Michael, in Pemberton
I didn’t know about this praying on our behalf until Chinese New Year, when the watchman informed me he should receive extra lai see from us, as he and his god were responsible for Michael being a Michael and not a Michelle. Yeah, right.
Michael in Whistler
Michael was born on the coldest day since HK started recording temperatures in the early 1900s. It was 6 degrees that morning and Lars was late to the hospital because the car wouldn’t start. How odd to think that HK gets cold enough to freeze car engines! I admit to being slightly ticked that Lars wasn’t there for all the needles being plunged into my back – I’m no great lover of epidurals and spinal injections and was in dire need of a husbandly hand to hold that morning – but he did manage to get there in good time.
Taking a break from skiing Blackcomb.
I remember lying on a hospital gurney, waiting for my time to enter the operating theatre, terrified out of my mind. It was odd, really, as I was more or less an old pro by this time. However, this was my first time with an epidural, first time in this hospital, first time with this doctor – therefore, it felt like the first time and I was scared. The nurses assured me I was shivering because of the drugs I’d been given, but I was convinced I should pack up and come back another day to try all over again. I was obviously too distraught to give birth today…I’m sure I could come back another time, perhaps next year sometime?
Celebrating Kirsten’s birthday in a Vodka Fridge
Lars was doing a good job patting my shoulder with the husbandly hand and I was calm enough to go through the doors and be operated upon, while totally awake. No pain, however, which made it all very surreal. I remember even being in charge of my pain relief, so I cranked that button up and down with gay abandon, sometimes feeling a twinge, and other times falling asleep and snoring like a Formula-1 car revving its engine.
Within minutes, Michael was born. He was quiet, scored well on his first ever test (the Apgar) and looked around at us all with great interest. All three of my children were born slightly jaundiced, but to me, they all looked like they’d just been away on a Caribbean holiday, returning with golden tans. Michael, with his big blue eyes, suited his jaundice perfectly. He was beautiful.
Michael, at my 50th Birthday party
While I was being carted back up to my room, Lars rang the girls to tell them they had a new brother. Kirsten was the first on the phone; aged 6 years, she was the spokesperson for the girls and took her responsibility seriously:
Lars: Hi Kirsten, it’s Daddy. Guess what, you’ve got a baby brother!
Kirsten: What? But we wanted a baby sister, not a brother.
Lars: Well, there’s nothing we can do about it now. His name is Michael, he’s really sweet and you’ll love him as soon as you see him.
Kirsten: …….well…okay…but can we still dress him up like a girl and pretend he’s our sister?
Lars: Sure you can.
And thus was Michael introduced to our family.
He has grown a little since that day 21 years ago. Besides being the youngest and the tallest, he’s also an incredibly sweet, warm, empathetic, silly and charming man.
Our family, complete.
When he was four, he asked if he should start shaving soon as he felt a little stubble on his upper lip; when he was 6, he sent out birthday invitations asking all the boys attending his party wearing suits and ties; when he was 10, he wanted a pipe and a Deerstalker hat. He hasn’t given up asking for a walking stick; now living in London, chances are great he’ll get one soon. He loves musical theatre, Russian history, Flashman books, computer games, Lyra and Blue, and his sisters, who came round and adore him as much as he adores them, which is to say, a lot.
Gillian, Michael, Kirsten – they never did get him to wear dresses, at least, not once he grew taller than them.
Michael, the final child, the one who completes our family, the young gentle man we bully, tease, and ask to reach all the things too high up for us to reach on our own…
With much love,