Everybody was Kung-Fu fighting!

My middle son turned 5 yesterday.  Where has the time gone?  It feels like yesterday that I walked into the hospital extremely pregnant and anxious.  I was overwhelmed at the idea of having two children close to 16 months apart but it felt like old hat walking into Labor and Delivery on April 01, 2008, like I had left but had forgotten something and was back for one more.

The triage nurse who admitted me couldn’t believe that I was about to have a baby.  She had pegged my bump at 7 months along and was shocked when I told her that I was starting my 39th week.

A few hours later our second little boy was born.  He came into the world with a shrill scream and furled in a tight ball.  It’s funny how in that exact moment that we met he showed me his true personality: a feisty homebody who likes to be surrounded by his comforts.

We mark birthdays in a big way at our house.  I love birthdays – an entire day dedicated to celebrating someone special.  My boys have parties with their friends that I gladly assume the responsibility of planning and an elaborate dinner with our large family is always a must.

My now 5 year old has strong ideas about his parties.  He knows exactly what he wants to eat, how he wants the house decorated and where the piñata will hang.  As early as three years old he would dictate the theme of the party and pitch-in with the planning and preparation.

Last year, our entire family descended on our house dressed as pirates and this year it will be ninjas.

Quick tip: do not Google “ninja costumes for women” with your child on your lap.  There will be a lot of stutters, back pedaling and frantic mouse clicking.

Pintrest has offered a wealth of inspiration but make no mistake, it can also make one feel pretty inadequate in a hurry.  We decided on a list of activities and games and of course, a cake.  I will bake the cake but I have had to talk myself down from some of the more lofty examples found on-line.  I know my limits and Martha Stewart, I am not.

This is my favourite ninja item that we have come across and it will be included in the loot bags.


The back of the box reads:

Everybody was Kung-Fu writing,

Those words were fast as lightning.

In fact it was a little bit frightening,

But they wrote with expert timing…

How could I resist?

Available here.


On this night…


six years ago, I lay in a narrow bed in a room with three other pregnant women. I was 37 weeks pregnant, and being induced. My son had been diagnosed as intra-uterine growth restricted in my 22nd week. I’d been on bedrest for four weeks for signs of pre-term labour and to conserve my energy. As we understood, the placenta, that vital organ connecting him to me, was no longer working as it should. It was old before its time. Blood was no longer flowing freely between it and him, and it was time for him to arrive. To complicate matters, the hospital’s neonatal intensive care ward has been closed to new patients because of a Norwalk virus outbreak. If he is born too small, or if he requires intensive care, we have no idea where he will be sent. Out of town, certainly; out of country, quite possibly.

We try not to think about that, he and I. His father and I send him entreaties of love and plumpness. Mere ounces matter, now.

He was so quiet, curled inside me. So much quieter than his brother, the nocturnal acrobat. I gave my belly an occasional nudge. Occasionally, I got a nudge back: gentle, noncommittal. From the bed across from me, a colossal snore. From beside me, the hushed voices of a woman on the phone. I remember her, remember that her water had broken around her 26th week. Somehow, impossibly, she kept leaking fluid, but stayed pregnant, 27, 28, 29 weeks and onward.

The night trickles by. In a room with three other women, someone is always there — nurses checking blood pressure, fetal tones. One woman wears flip-flops; her cadence is distinctive: flipFLIPflop…flipFLIPflop. She is pregnant with twins and too weary to lift her feet so late at night. Be quiet, all of you. I want to scold. I have important work to do tomorrow. But arguing seems to require all the energy I’m trying to horde. I stay silent.

Morning arrives with the news we’ve dreaded. The NICU is still not open. My contractions are ramping up. He’ll be arriving today. My husband and I walk endless loops of the halls, down one side, out the other, until I proclaim that there is nothing I need more than to just lie down. Now. I ask for drugs; the uncertainty of the situation takes away my confidence. But the one bolus gives me all I need, and I settle into the rhythm of the contractions, feeling him slide down, descend. I hear the doctor ask me to reach down and touch my baby, find his head, but I’m concentrating on moving him out of me and my hands miss the mark, to much laughter. It is only then I realize that I’ve been joined by a cast of thousands: doctors, neonatologists, nurses. I welcome them to the party.

And then..another push, and he is born. He is yelling already. The doctor lays him on my chest momentarily, and I commit him to memory. He has his great-grandfather’s feet and my hands. And then, to be assessed and weighed. Possibly to be whisked away, but he is weighed again: someone had read the scale incorrectly. Someone has converted grams to ounces incorrectly, and my boy gains in stature at the stroke of a pen. Ounces matter.

Happy birthday, Sebastian, our little big guy.