Sunday, 27 August 2017

Exactly One Year Ago



Exactly one year ago, I didn’t know you. We’d never met. I’d expected to meet you weeks earlier, but you hadn’t shown up. You’d kept me waiting, dragging out the pregnancy so that it felt it might never end. And, at some points, I genuinely worried it might never, that I might actually be the first woman to be pregnant forever. I can remember the patient look on the midwife’s face when she asked if I had an idea of when I might agree to induction, should labour not start on its own.

**

Exactly one year ago, I wrote you a letter pleading with you to come out. I was so ready to meet you, so ready to finally hold you in my arms and know that you were ok. I sat in an empty hospital room, waiting, but, for the first time in days, feeling hopeful that you would arrive soon.

**

Exactly one year ago, I realised you were on your way. Those pesky Braxton Hicks I had grown so accustomed to felt stronger, different somehow. I felt relaxed, even in my hospital bed, and I knew you were finally ready to make an appearance.

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Exactly one year ago, I realised I might have been wrong, that perhaps you weren’t ready to make an appearance quite yet. You wanted to drag out the ending as much as you had dragged out the pregnancy. The hours passed quickly at first, then slowly, as though the entire world were on standstill with baited breath waiting for you to arrive. I watched the hands tick by on the wall clock as I sat in the pool, wishing you would hurry up. A lot of people had a lot of opinions on how you might best be coaxed into the world.

**
Exactly one year ago, you were born. You were caught by a motherly midwife who had supported women all over the world to give birth, all the way from the bright lights of Stepping Hill delivery suite to underfunded and ill equipped maternity units in developing countries. A little girl, pink and screaming, crying out for me. The midwife gathered you up and placed you on my chest, your head, the hair still damp with vernix, rested in the groove of my arm, as somebody draped a hospital blanket over us to keep us warm. You stared at me, your eyes deep and dark, as I fell in love, letting myself breathe in every bit of you. The little fingernails, the dark hair, the rolls of fat on your legs.

**
Exactly one year ago, I felt that familiar rush of becoming somebody’s mother. Only this time, there was no fear or self-doubt, it felt exactly as I knew it would. I knew you as soon as I saw you, as though I had known you forever.

**

Exactly one year ago, I held you to my breast and fed you, watching you drift gently to sleep as your tiny stomach grew content and full with milk. I wrapped you in a rainbow striped blanket I had knitted for you during the pregnancy, each stitch crafted with love and hope, then I gently placed you in the plastic see-through cot next to my bed, only inches away from where I slept. Your dad slept on the other side of me, hunched over in a chair, exhausted from the hours of stolen sleep the night before.

**

Exactly one year ago, I dressed you in a pink flowery romper your big sister had chosen for the unknown baby growing in my bump. I lifted you up gently and held you in my arms, savouring the smallness of you, and I followed your dad down the hospital corridor to where your sister was excitedly waiting. I carried you through the double doors and out into the waiting area to where your sister sat on a sofa. She was dressed in a red dress, a glittery headband sitting in her messy hair, her eyes heavy with bags and her mouth wide in amazement as she saw your pink romper and realised you were a girl, a little sister just for her. We sat next to her on the sofa and she leant in to whisper in your ear, telling you how much she loved you already. I placed you in her arms and she cradled you so carefully as though you were the most precious thing in the world.

**

Exactly one year ago, I carried you over the doorstep and into your new home. Your sister was waiting excitedly in the house your nanny had cleaned for your arrival, the fruit bowl overflowing with fresh fruit, piles of clean washing piled high in the utility room. I sat on the sofa and breathed you in as you slept against my chest, your sister cuddled up beside me as we started life as a family of four, all us together at last.

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