Birthing the Mother

The enormity of the transition. Sitting in a hospital bed, realising it was MY responsibility to keep this little scrap of life alive. If I failed, or neglected it, or walked away, she died.

Phoning friends and realising the great gulf that now existed between us.

Feeling inadequate and useless around so many of the things I had to do, things I thought would come naturally. Tiredness, like a physical wall.

The desperate feelings when she started to cry, just as sleep arrived. Despair, anger, fear, guilt.

Looking into her eyes through the perspex wall of the hospital crib. Her eyes staring unblinking into mine. Hers now forever.

I don't even know how to pick her up, or hold her properly. I know how to hum a tune, which I do over and over as I hold her and walk when we get home. This is a time of getting used to one another, getting used to her presence in my house. Getting used to the carrycot and pram. Getting used to tiny vests and socks and hats. Getting used to the kindness of stramgers peering into the pram. Getting used to no sleep. Getting used to tiny bodily realities; meconium; umbilical stump; tiny fingernails that need cutting. The things that represent this new "taking care of" you have to start doing as a parent now for the rest of your life.

The pride. No one told me I would feel more pride at the random compliments of strangers than at any of my own achievents.

The fierce "she's mine!" feeling.

The endless stream of unasked for advice.

Little tiny hands. Little tiny feet. Ears, nose, eyes, mouth. Alert. Looking at me, always looking at me. Eye to eye. Heart to heart.

Trying to figure out what she needs, getting it wrong, getting it right, feelimg guilty, feeling happy, feeling sad, feeling tied down, feeling alone.

When she got ill, feeling desperate, desperate, I'd do anything, sell my soul, anything to make her better.

Such a roller coaster. So different to the fairy tale we are sold of having a baby. So engulfing. So consuming.

When you hold her for the first time, you become a mother. Nothing and everything in your life has prepared you for this.