It was our wedding anniversary. I had a glass (okay, maybe two) of champagne. I made my husband suffer through our wedding video and grinned idiotically as I looked back fondly at the expensive professional photos from our wedding. I felt every bit the giddy bride, except for the fact that I was in my plaid pajama pants, no makeup, and going on day three of not washing my hair.
With a breathy and wistful sigh, I said to my husband: “I just think that was the happiest day of my life.”
He seemed shocked and nervous that we were going to start to talk about feelings. “Really? What about when we had the kids?”
Me, with zero hesitation: “Nope. Definitely wedding.”
Okay, before you think I’m a total monster and don’t love my children let me hit you with a little perspective. The day I birthed my children was one of the most exhilarating and euphoric moments of my life. Becoming their mother has brought me moments of immeasurable happiness. However, one cannot overlook the physical anguish that a mother must endure to bring a child into the world. Being gripped by contractions that felt like my insides we’re being spun around a Ninja blender for a minute every four minutes was not what I would call “happy times”. Having the epidural wear off during two and a half hours of pushing is not what I would call a joyful time. Hearing the sound of your own skin being cut and receiving stitches twenty minutes later to repair the damage to my lady bits didn’t exactly put me in an ecstatic mood. When they finally put my oldest son on my chest and I looked at him for the first time I was relieved, exhausted, and in awe. Probably in that order. I was also hangry. So very hangry. Ice chips didn’t really cut it when all I wanted was a double cheeseburger from McDonald’s. So between the physical exhaustion, hunger, and hormonal surges, I was in a weird, glass case of emotion when the kids were born.
The day my children were born changed my life forever in the best possible way. I realize how extremely lucky we are to have had two uncomplicated births and two healthy children to take home without any NICU stays. I’m forever grateful for that and yes, there was an abundance of joy and happiness surrounded their births.
That said…let’s compare your wedding. You’re surrounded by your best friends and your family – loads of people who you usually don’t get to see that often. You have a glam squad working on you to make sure that you are absolutely the best version of yourself and boy you had no idea that fake eyelashes were going to be your new favorite. You’re sipping champagne and giddy over the that you’re finally going to marry the love of your life. You slip into THE dress and it fits like the most flattering glove. After a ceremony where you promise to love each other until death do you part, it’s officially time to party! Not just any party, it’s the biggest and best party that you’ve ever been to in your entire life. And it has an open bar. You look great (people keep telling you that, which is awesome!) you feel even better, and you’ve just made the best decision ever. You spend the night dancing away with your husband to Journey, Billy Joel, and the hits of today that you don’t realize how dated they sound until you’ll watch your wedding video years later. How can that NOT be the happiest day of your life? Yes, the day is not without its stress as you stalk the weather obsessively and hope that months and months of planning have paid off to make for a smooth day. Little things will go wrong here and there – like a sash popping off your dress last-minute that your crafty friend super glues before the reception begins. But it’s all so minor that you won’t even remember it years later. I didn’t drink very much at the reception but I was in an euphoric state that resembled a nice little buzz and the next day my face hurt from all the genuine smiling I did. That’s how happy I was. Your birth experience? That shit stays with you. One does not simply forget labor. No matter how good of a sleeper your kid may be.
Joe tried to argue that while our wedding day was an amazing time and he loved every minute of it (whether this was said out of fear or he truly felt that way, I will never know) but was it really that life changing? When we were married we had already purchased a house and were living in sin. Now we just had nicer jewelry and a piece of paper to seal the deal. But when our kids were born everything changed dramatically and he couldn’t be happier for it.
I think it boils down to perspective. One from the person that did all the work of growing a human and birthing a human and one who had to watch all of it unfold while eating the hospital provided lunch while you crunch on ice chips aggressively. I’ve fought the battle and he’s reaped all the spoils so to speak. Also, there is a difference between “happiest day” and “most life-changing”. The wedding day may have been my happiest, but my children being born changed me in a way that I never imagined. The spectrum of feelings you go through on the day your children are born is truly indescribable. Happiness is intertwined with fear and anxiety – how the hell are you going to take care of this thing? Will you be any good at it? Listen to that noise! Is that normal? Why is he breathing like that?? The mom guilt and worry sets in immediately. Your heart is bursting out of your chest with love for this wrinkly little baby laying on your chest but it’s a brutal physical and mental battle to get to that point.
Now, if it makes me sound any less awful the days that my children were born are a tie for second happiest day(s) of my life but I will still maintain, for many reasons that the wedding takes the cake.