There is a feeling of relief at this time of year
"Bhis is the best birthday ever!" Praise for a birthday party comes no higher than that from a three-year-old. Of course, there's not much competition for the ìbest birthday everî accolade when youíre three. There are only two other contenders, neither of which you can quite remember.
Nonetheless, it lifted our hearts no end to see how happy Rose was as we celebrated her third birthday. Family and friends had all gathered merrily in the back garden in the pleasantly unseasonable March sunshine. It felt like the first day of spring, or indeed summer, as we sat outdoors together for the first time after a long and stormy winter.
There is a feeling of relief at this time of year, as brazen bands of daffodils stand proudly in the parks once more as cheery sentinels of spring. The dreary and dark days of winter are done. We have survived another long Irish winter. The sun on our faces is stronger and there is a subtle sense of life building within the budding trees. Secret movements of sap whisper of the coming summer. The trees still stand stark, but they are inwardly busy, preparing to burst forth with leaves, life and fruit.
When I began writing this column, Rose was still in utero, herself about to burst forth on the world. I remember the moment I first saw her like yesterday. A fiesty little girl had arrived, my first daughter. And now, happily, there is another small little being in my wifeís womb, due to make an appearance next summer, God willing.
We are nervous, having suffered miscarriage three times in the past year. Each one, a heartbreak, a wound, a grief. But now we are 18 weeks in and cautiously hoping for the best. Weíve even told the kids about this tiny little baby in mammyís tummy. They ask to cuddle it, and gently approach the busy belly, fast gowing into a bump.
A couple of weeks ago, we had a scare and had to rush into hospital, while anxious grandparents waited with the children. The emergency room seemed a cruel deja vu. Amid the blip of heart monitors and the anxious waiting, our fears rose.
As the doctor switched on the ultrasound, I prepared for the worst, the all-too familiar experience: where once there had been a heartbeat, nothing. But this time, the scanner revealed a happily pounding heart and a small dancing baby!
We're nearly half way there now.
And if this little one makes it out to see us all this summer, it really will be the best birthday ever.