I can remember the night I went into labor. We’d been to the doctor and after an enthusiastic exam (read- forceful) a bit of liquid trickled between my legs.

“Could you hand me a paper towel?” I asked Sean as I sat up.

“What?” he asked looking startled.

“A paper towel, I need a paper towel.” I repeated with my hand out and my knees awkwardly clamped together.

“What do you mean you need a paper towel?” He said.

“Something came out, a little liquid.” I whispered.

“What do you mean liquid? You mean like water? Like your water broke?” He was approaching full-blown panic mode.

“I have no idea. I just know that something came out. Something wet.” I was a little embarrassed not to know what it was, or if it was in fact the breaking of my water. And, of course, I was not really digging on feeling like I’d just wet myself. He handed me a wad of tissues and then dashed out the door for a nurse.

The woman came in and I repeated my clumsy description of wetness as she pressed a little litmus strip type of thing on my skin.

“Hmm, not sure,” she said. A blend of reassurance and concern set in. “Why don’t you go home and see. If you begin to bleed, enough to soak a pad, call the doctor and he can meet you at the hospital. Otherwise let’s plan on seeing you first thing tomorrow morning.” She smiled and left.

Sean looked at me and, I don’t think I am embellishing here, I’m pretty sure he gulped.

What followed was eight hours of: Is this really a contraction? Shouldn’t I be screaming?

And then at 3 we drove to the hospital. She arrived less than five hours later. It isn’t shocking at all to read that she was exquisite, perfect in every way, from her blue eyes and round head, to the tiny, wrinkly arms and legs that molded to my body as I nursed her. She brought me and my entire life into color.

It’s been four years and in that short time she has grown into a sassy, doting, quirky, girlie, sensitive little person. My baby and my big girl.

I ache for her in the expectations that I place on her are higher than those I have for Avery. There are times when I treat Briar as an extension of myself, demanding levels of excellence, resilience and integrity that just don’t exist in most people. I try to remind myself that she is just four, but still I ride her.

Last night I ignored the frustration I have with her sleep issues, from day one she has been hard in this area. I slipped into bed with her, pressed my cheek to hers and whispered I love you as she did. A little game that neither of us talks about, but both enjoy, our lips moving in synch.

I love you.

And then again, chins jutting out and eyes crinkled in delight, I love you.

When she asked for lotion and water, my eyes burned. I was so tired, still recovering from the trip.

“Sure, honey.”

“Mom, you want me to give you a butterfly kiss?” She asked.

“A butterfly kiss? Of course!”

And so we fluttered. On cheeks and on noses. On arms and necks.

Hopefully, despite our crashing wills, she will remember these flutters and cuddles. She is, was and always will be my first baby.

I love you like no one else, Briar Davie.

Happy birthday!