Twenty years ago this moment, I was less than two hours from meeting my firstborn. We'd been at this endeavour for about 14 hours, but I was holding the course pretty well, still pacing the halls, stopping at steadily reducing intervals to lean on her dad and pant. The nurses cooed every time we paced by their station. I was young, it was my first, I was solemn and stoic, only whimpering quietly from time to time - all things to warm their hearts. An hour and a quarter later, I was in bed and pushing. Half hour after that, two nurses and a doctor were jostling for position between my thighs, oohing over my nether regions. (If you think there's anything remotely sexy about this, you've never been in a labour room.) "Would you look at those membranes!!" said the midwife to the OB nurse, when - POP! - they exploded. Later, I laughed at the memory of how they'd all leaped backwards out of the spray. At the time I felt only a certain savage delight. And that was it. One or maybe two good pushes later, my warm, wet, wide-eyed daughter was in my arms. The midwife latched her on to me to nurse once they'd cleaned her up and bundled her neatly. A few minutes later, I moved her to the other side. She knew what she was doing from the first second. Which made exactly one of us. "I don't think she's quite in the right spot," observed my husband. I carefully broke the suction, just as I'd been shown, and pulled her away. There on the side of my breast was a deep red hickey. She was doing her part; too bad mummy hadn't a clue... She was always a smart little thing. At age six, she convinced her then three year old brother that he would rather eat the leaves of our raspberry bushes, that "those red things are yukky, and you should give them to me." Strangely, they have a very good relationship... She was always part mother to her baby sister, who was born when she was seven. Today, on her birthday, I handed to phone to her little sister so she could say her birthday greetings, and then had to wait twenty minutes to get it back - and would have had to wait longer, I'm sure, had the girl not had to get back to school. And now that tiny smoke-eyed baby is a tall and lovely smoke-eyed woman. Smart and independent. She's in university, she's been living on her own for a couple of years, she's making a life for herself. She's even going on her very first grown-up vacation, made without any family members whatsoever, over Christmas. (To Cuba. But I'm not jealous, oh no.) It's a miracle when a baby is born. It's no less wonderful when that baby graduates into a life of her own, and you get to see the beginnings of the rewards of all that effort. Happy Birthday, Sweetie!