Thursday, July 22, 2010

My son's first birthday

I would like to thank my friend Georgia from Love and Lollipops for the beautiful photographs she took of our party! You can view more of her work on her blog - click on the link above.

We invited four little friends and I set up our party table in the living room.
The party favours are pinned to the front of the tablecloth, and the polka dots you see on the floor is a vinyl tablecloth which I stuck to the carpet with maskig tape so little people (read "their mothers") wouldn't have to worry about spilling juice.
Some of the goodies on offer:

And the birthday cake! I baked a double layer chocolate cake using my all-time favourite recipe, and then decorated it with lots of yellow butter icing, a cheerful paper rosette and mini Smarties. I had tons of help - Sweetpea's job was taste testing two mini Smarties for every one that I stuck on, and ArrowBoy was perched on my hip for moral support during the entire operation. Yes, I decorated it with one hand! (It was just before supper time last night and he just would not be left on the floor while all the action was going on at counter-top!) 

We served freshly made popcorn in ducky paper cups - I just glued on some googly eyes and a cardboard beak. Isn't he a cheery little fellow?! The best part was having Sweetpea on her stepstool at the stove while the corn was popping - she shrieked with delight!

We had pretty polka dot party hats. Arrow's had a little No.1 label to make him feel extra special!

I handstitched this name banner from felt. I am redoing his bedroom in bright, cheerful colours, and the banner will get a special place above his bed. I copied the little animals from a website which I love, and though I am always happy to support businesses selling good quality handmade goods, the exchange rate just puts their wares way out of our league, so I decided to make it myself.

ArrowBoy was a little overwhelmed and very surprised  when we started singing the birthday song...

Someone recently remarked that Arrow reminds her of Noddy, so my youngest sister gave him a small Noddy doll and this gorgeous Mr Plod, which he hugged close all afternoon!

Each little guest also received a felt friend sewn onto a felt version of their initials, with a bright little ribbon so they can hang it on the door!

We couldn't have asked for a more perfect day and the children loved being out in the sunshine!

A few battle-weary troops...naptimes were not far off...

When I found out that I was pregnant with Arrow, my husband and I unanimously agreed that we could not be bothered with obstetricians and the whole medical system again. Although I gave birth to Sweetpea in a beautiful, state-of-the-art private hospital, we were left disillusioned with the way things are done in this country when it comes to birth choices. Although we were very clear about our choices regarding the birth, we felt that our wishes were bulldozed, and I ended up having an emergency C-section. It seems that most gynaes talk mothers into C-sections even fairly early on in their pregnancies, since it can be conveniently scheduled...I have enough to say on this topic to cover pages of posts, but I will constrain myself at this point.

Anyway,  I started researching homebirths, and specifically VBAC's (vaginal birth after cesearean) and we were very soon sold on the idea of having a midwife-assited water birth in our home. I read and researched and prepared myself physically and spiritually for what was going to be the most beautiful, peaceful home-birthing experience. I kept a special journal in which I recorder all my prayers about the birth, and shared with my unborn child my longing to hold him in my arms.

The birth pool arrived two weeks befor my due date and I was SO excited!

Then, finally, on the night of 19 July last year my contractions started. I was thrilled and excited and yet also so peacefully contented with the fact that our baby was going to be born in the comfort and protection of our home.

I will spare you the details about the 36 hours of labour and just cut to the part where, by 12 noon on 21 July, my husband, midwife and I all agreed that it would be best to call the gynaecologist. (He was really sweet about the whole thing when I told him about our home birthing plans and graciously offered to be on stand-by should we need him). Long story short, our precious son was delivered via emergency C-section an hour later - healthy, gorgeous and completely unawares of all the drama that came before. The doctor found that my pelvis opening is simply too narrow to let through even the smallest little baby.

As much as I was COMPLETELY SMITTEN with my little boy, my heart was also broken about the dream that had shattered: I knew that all subsequent births would now have to be C-sections. I could not understand it - I had prayed so many times asking God to give me a clear answer as to His will for the birth, and was so certain that the home-birth was what He wanted for me. I really struggled with some serious trust issues for a month or so after Arrow's birth. I just could not get myself to pray., and when I tried I broke down in hopeless tears, feeling that God was not going to listen to me anyway.

But true to His Word he never left nor forsoke me. Instead He gently guided me back to a place where I could find rest in the knowledge of His love and the assurance that He is in control and that all things work together for those who trust in Him. I am still sad sometimes when I think of just how much I had wanted to have natural birth at home. But looking back, I am immensely grateful that He had given me the opportunity to labour - that although I didn't actually have a natural birth, I do know what it is to be in labour, and to breathe through those contractions, and to know just how painful they are, and about the almost hilarious 'normality' of those moments between conractions! And I also know today that had I been able to have the birth I dreamt about, I would probably have become proud, even scornful of mothers who chose C-sections. God was gracious and used that birthing experience to teach me about being gracious to other mothers; to remain humble and trust in Him alone; to not judge others for their choices., and to be grateful for good midwifes and doctors and nurses.

Today, one year later, I look at my precious son and my heart rejoices in the goodness of my God.


  1. Hi Joyfulmama!

    Big One took one look at these photos and asked, "Did 'Arrowboy' have a party called a 'HAPPY' party?" I thought that that was just the perfect description this first birthday party!!

    Thanks again for sharing it with us!


  2. :-) I couldn't have said it better - it was a HAPPY party indeed, and made even better because we shared it with special friends! Thanks again for the beautiful photography. Now we look forward to your Little One's party!

  3. A very happy birthday to your little boy! (for yesterday)

    The part about your birth experience really hit home for me, thanks for sharing.

    'Arrowboy' is just 10 days older than my own little girl, so in 9 days time I will have the very same trip down memory lane

  4. Hi Marijke, thanks for stopping by! I was surprised and touched by the e-mails I received today from other mothers who also read this and could relate to the birthing experience. I was just reminded once agian that the birth of one's child is such a profound experience, isn't it? I don't think a single part of one's being is left untouched by it. There is nothing which could ever erase the memory of my chidren's births from my heart and mind: the first blinking of surprised little eyes as they laid my daughter on my chest moments after her birth; the smell of my newborn children's hair; the way I spent my first nights in hospital with them sleeping in the crook of my arm while I marveled at the grace of God to give me such a precious gift... I am certain that you could share similar memories!

    May the celebration of your daughter's first year be a joyous occassion for you and your family - enjoy every moment of motherhood!

  5. Happy Birthday to Arrowboy and Congratulations on his first Birthday!
    Your Party looked lovely! Welldone and thanks for all those ideas :)

  6. Joyfulmamma you are truly a Joy-Ful-Mamma! And what a Joy-ful-party!

    Thank you for sharing your birth story and your emotions and struggles when it didn't turn out as you were asking, hoping, praying. It touched my heart and gave me more insight!
    love you lots!

  7. Thanks, Linnie, I will be lying if I said that I have dealt with all of the disappointment, especially when I hear from moms who had beautiful home birth experiences, but when those emotions do bubble up, I just proclaim God's infinte grace and provision over my life and know that He is in control. Thanks for stopping by! Love, G.


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