Tonight, 18 years ago, I was having twinges - not big ones but enough so I thought I'd better leave Simon at his grandparents place for the evening. I took a photo of him - beautiful boy with big blue eyes, soft blonde curls - about to become a brother.

Tonight, 18 years ago, I drove my car home. I didn't want to because the twinges were getting stronger, but somehow I was talked into driving my own car home by myself. Greg drove his own car home - he'd come to his parents' place later than I had. I had to stop at the gas station for petrol on the way - I had three relatively strong contractions while I filled my car - I leaned against the pump and breathed through them. I drove the rest of the way and made it home safely.

Tonight, 18 years ago, I'd phoned the hospital when I got home and told them how I was feeling, they thought I should come in. Greg was already in bed and asleep. I tried a number of times to leave for the hospital but Greg was hard to wake - which, now I think about it, was unusual because normally he's a painfully light sleeper. But we didn't leave the house until 1am.

Tonight, 18 years ago, I was having strong, painful contractions in the passenger-seat of Greg's car as he drove towards National Womens' Hospital. I was urging him to drive faster, to go through red lights - there was hardly any traffic. He felt reluctant to do so and it seemed he drove sedately to the Maturnity Entrance of the hospital.

Tonight, 18 years ago, I was crippled by the waves of contractions in the carpark of the hospital. I nearly didn't make it to the door I could barely walk. The Duty Nurse was grumpy with me because I had phoned her over 3 hours before when they'd told me to come in and had taken this long to get there.

Tonight, 18 years ago, by the time they got me up onto the examining table, I was in transition. I was shaking and cold. The contractions weren't 3 minutes apart or 2 minutes part or 1 minute apart like they say in the books.. there was only one contraction and it was endless.

Tonight, 18 years ago, my daughter was born at 1:47am before the doctor could arrive. She came so fast she had red racing stripes down her face. She was born quickly and striped with red over blue. She took a heartbeat or two to breathe but she managed it.

Tonight, 18 years after she was born, she is out. Out of me and out of the house. Out with her friends for her birthday. Tomorrow night she is out with *different* friends for her birthday. Saturday night she is out with *all* of those friends for her birthday party. She said, if she's not *too* hungover on Sunday, she will try to find time to have dinner with us for her birthday, but she's not promising anything. She told me this over coffee this afternoon which was nice - both the coffee and the company.

Tonight, 18 years after she was born, I think about how fast those years have gone though at times some of them have not been fast enough. She's still the same little girl in fairy wings and gumboots - no really, she's wearing wings for her birthday party. She's grown and she's beautiful and talented and annoying and popular and neglectful and wonderful and a pain-in-the-arse and I love her.

Happy Birthday Amy.