We started out with a happy surprise and from the moment my daughter was born, I became someone else. Her birth wasn’t particularly straightforward but it was an event that ultimately ended in the presentation of the most beautiful girl in the world. When they made the first incision and began to dig around inside me, I never imagined what on earth they would pull out. I never knew it could be so good! They pulled her head out first and rested it on my body. I remember thinking, ‘she feels like a kitten!’ and then before I knew it her whole body was free and kicking in the harshly bright lights of the operating theatre. There were exclamations of, ‘It’s a girl!’- we already knew that!- and peels of affectionate laughter as our daughter took her first wee all over the midwife. She was washed and wrapped in a gaudy yellow hospital blanket, then handed to P to be cuddled whilst they stitched me up. I couldn’t take my eyes off her! I produced this wonderful, amazing, terrifying creature!
Straight away, her eyes crinkled and her now infamous bottom lip trembled as she prepared herself to protest her indignation at being ripped from her warm, cosy home. She’d been induced at two weeks past my due date and obviously had reservations about this, becoming distressed at the doctors insistence that she no longer had a place inside my womb. So the emergency section had been the ultimate price to pay but I swore then that it was nothing- I would do it all again tomorrow for something as precious as this!
So my daughter screamed and cried and felt all the pain I did not as they stitched me and closed up her safe haven once and for all. Her cries were tiny yet they inprinted on my soul and I began to feel helpless, lying there, unable to soothe her. Then, seemingly suddenly, they finished and- joy, oh joy!- they handed her to me. And then. And then… she stopped crying. She looked at me and her eyes locked with mine and then all of a sudden I was falling. I finally understood the phrase love at first sight, a phrase I had always found to be soppy and unrealistic.
Some years later, whilst pregnant with my son, I recalled this moment during a conversation with my sister in law and her response was the only response another mother could give. She bent down low and kissed my daughter on the top of her shiny head- just for being her.
So my daughter’s birth was termed as an emergency and I was helpfully reminded by an extremely sour faced midwife the next day that: she and I had almost died. Why? What had happened? All the pain and the fear and the terror of the previous day had dissipated and I was here, now, with my baby and my life complete. So, I nearly died, nearly lost my baby… but I didn’t. I raised my chin and I took her home. Home.