March 8, 2007

What's in a Ras-Birthday?

There's a Ras-Birthday on the horizon.

This morning, my doctor told me that, barring any unforeseen developments, she'd like to induce labor on March 21st.

It's reassuring to have the date set. It's a bit later than I expected (39 weeks and 1 day), but Rasbaby's doing so well that my doctor doesn't feel the need to rush things.
I've always been fascinated by birthdays.

Throughout the world, throughout human history, we have tried to understand people based on when they were born. Astrology, numerology, the Chinese zodiac, the Roman Calendar of Saints... all of them tell us that a fundamental piece of our identity or our destiny is determined by the date that we emerge from the womb.

If that's true, then might scheduled inductions and C-sections disrupt the balance of the cosmos?

Is March 21st really the right birthday for my daughter?

Or will that be her birthday just because I'm diabetic, I need to deliver before 40 weeks, and my obstetrician happens to work at the hospital on Wednesdays?

Perhaps the greater forces of nature and God and destiny knew about all of these circumstances and orchestrated everything so that it would work out exactly like this.

Is there such a thing as a wrong birthday?

With the exception of a few people resentful about proximity to major holidays, I've never met anyone who actively dislikes his or her birthday.

I never identified with the sign of Aries, and I generally prefer colored gems to diamonds, but I've always appreciated my actual birthday, April 17. I love the aesthetic appeal of it. April, a month feminine enough to be a woman's name. And 17, the classy older cousin of 7, everyone's quintessential lucky number.

Whenever I get a new calendar, I flip to April and examine my birthday, as if to validate that it's still there, waiting for me.

I've never asked, but I think a lot of people do this.

It's the same compulsion that strikes us whenever we look at a map of the United States. Look at the map below:

Where was the first place your eyes landed?

My theory is that most people's eyes immediately fall on the state with which they feel the strongest personal affinity.

Even though I've lived in Nevada for almost 8 years, I always look straight at North Dakota, where I grew up. I used to think everyone looked at North Dakota first, since it's so conveniently placed at the top and center.

But that would be like everyone checking their calendars to verify that the coming year included April 17.

After coming home from the doctor's office, I started researching March 21st. (There are a lot of responsibilities inherent to not working and avoiding stressful activities)

The vernal equinox tends to fall on March 20 or 21, which seems to me like a positive cosmic occurence.

In related news, March 21 is the first day of Aries, thus the first day of the astrological year. It's also the first day of the Persian and Baha'i calendars.

Maybe when she's old enough to drink champagne, Rasbaby can have a New Year's-themed birthday party.

March 21 is sufficiently distant from major gift-giving holidays and family birthdays, so Rasbaby will get all the attention she deserves. Easter could theoretically fall as early as March 22, but I'll have no problem convincing her that the Cadbury Creme Eggs are coming out in honor of her birthday (it always worked for me).

She'll share her birthday with famous people like Rosie O'Donnell, Matthew Broderick, and Kevin Federline.

She'll have to deal with the fact that she was born in the Year of the Pig, but so was pretty much everyone else her age. I hope she doesn't overthink the nursery rhyme that tells us "Wednesday's child is full of woe," but I would expect some introspection and occasional melancholy from a child of Sam and myself.

At an office book fair a few months ago, I perused a book that purportedly gave in-depth analyses based on birthdays. I liked their take on April 17, so I bought the book.
Here's what it says about people born on March 21st:

"Because of your wit and charm, you attract friends easily. You take life too seriously, especially in your early years."

"You can be practical and idealistic all at once. You have that powerful combination of endless mental energy along with great ambition. If you were paid a penny for your thoughts, you would be a millionaire."

"Your mind pulls people in like a magnet. You are neat in your appearance, and your manners would make any mother proud."

[Go, Rasbaby!]

"You will be drawn to the sea, either for career or pleasure."

[Note to self: buy baby beach hat and sandcastle-building tools]

It goes on to promise her wealth and success, both financially and in romantic partnership. She's advised to use citrus scents to tap into her energy, to meditate with amethyst, to carry a special pen as a lucky charm, and to partner with a Sagittarius or Leo.

This all seems reasonable enough to me.

March 21st sounds like a perfectly good birthday.

Unless, of course, Rasbaby decides to arrive earlier.

Then, I'll find a new mythology for her.

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