I was developing my skill base and mothering knowledge. I was storing up the little tips and bits of advice ready for the next time. Because there WAS going to be a next time. My house was still so empty, so void of all the children I was yet to have. I knew that little feet were supposed to run along the floors of my house.I knew that sticky fingers and scribbles and biscuit crumbs were going to turn my house into a home. A home filled with kids, laughter and toys.
After my son was born, part of my devastation was centered around the fact that ‘next time’ had been taken away. There was no way I could fathom having another baby when the baby I had right there in my arms filled me with such dread. This was not my baby; not the baby I had dreamed of, anyway. This was not the happy home I’d imagined. This was not how the next time was supposed to go. I was absolutely gutted that I would never fill my home with the children I wanted.
But I still wanted more. The fact that I found it so hard, initially, to love this baby, terrified me though. It wasn’t just that I found it so incredibly hard to love a person who I- wrongly- felt sure had caused so much pain and horror… much of how I struggled to deal with my feelings came from the way in which my c-section was performed.
My son was plucked from me whilst I was under general anesthetic. I slept like a piece of meat as they cut through my skin and took him. I felt nothing as they sliced his own skin; I did not hear his silent cries. I didn’t watch with horrified eyes as they worked to start his breathing. He had nobody rooting for him, for his survival. And when I awoke I wanted nothing less than this baby they told me was mine. This tiny thing, who had fought battles to be with me… I didn’t want him. Because how could I be sure that he was really mine? How could I be sure they wouldn’t tell me mine had really died, after all?
For a long time after the birth, I felt sure that my son wasn’t actually going to be around for long. I felt as though I was never supposed to keep him. Every time he screamed with pain and bucked in my arms, I felt sure that this was it. There was little point loving a baby who I wasn’t going to be able to keep anyway. Looking back now, tonight, I can’t remember how I got through that. I can’t remember how we came to the next time.
The next time. This time. Almost 9 months ago, when my baby girl came into the world. And tonight, he brought it all back to me. My beautiful boy looked straight into my eyes and told me, matter of fact, that Bella used to be in my tummy.
“I was in your tummy too,” he said with a huge smile.
And yes he was. He was that baby who kicked and wriggled and fought for space. He really was that baby they ripped from my body and he really was that baby placed into dead arms. He was mine. And HE is the reason why the next time even happened and why the next time was nothing like the time before. Every day that he smiles at me, at his sister. Every day that he asks for cuddles or tells me a joke. Every day that he is here, makes what happened so much easier to remember.