I now know

Nineteen days ago, at 6:18pm, my eyes lit upon a piece of my heart that I’d never known had been missing until we met.

She was tiny and perfect and couldn’t possibly be real. Couldn’t possibly be something my partner and I had created.

She couldn’t possibly be a soul that I would be priveleged enough to spend the rest of my days loving in a capacity that is so sacred, you don’t ever understand the infinity of its depth until you step into those same shoes yourself – the shoes of a Mother.

It’s all you hear during pregnancy – “It can’t be described”, “You’ll know it when you feel it”, “It’s different for everyone”.

Those vague responses are all used to describe everything from labour to breastfeeding to the concept of motherhood itself and I’d always found it to be a cop out… until now.

I think the simple truth is that words just aren’t enough. Words have power, but not here.

This place – motherhood – is enormous. It’s terrifying, confusing, depressing, filthy, humiliating, wounding, and wonderful. It heals, it fulfills dreams, it overwhelms and it brings you undone, both in sadness and in a happiness you never thought was possible.

With one wind-powered smile from my daughter, every single scar left open from my past no longer exists. It’s just gone. It doesn’t matter anymore.

And with one pained scream erupting from her sad little mouth, every single fear I’ve ever had in my life comes together in a great wave to crash over me and set my heart racing.

I spend hours staring at the monitor watching her breathe, or counting the wrinkles on her hands – those perfect little hands, so inconceivably small and delicate.

She overwhelms me.

There are so many things about her existence that I never expected…

I never expected pregnancy to be so empowering. I never expected the sight of my giant belly to bring me peace, to make me feel whole – I’d never realised there was a part of me that seemed to need that confirmation that I was, in fact, a woman capable of nurturing life – but it seems I did because pregnancy gave me a confidence I’ve never experienced before – a confidence where truly, nothing really mattered except my family and our security – outside influences, opinions, rumours all went by the wayside and suddenly, I felt capable of anything – if I can nurture life, I can do anything.

I never expected labour to be anything besides painful and undignified. I had no concept of what it would involve – no way to predict the pain – and sure, it certainly was painful. There were moments when the contractions were one after the other, on top of each other, two at once, almost… and in those moments I wanted to give up, to give in – oh god, take me for a c-section, anything to stop this!

… but in those moments I also realised that there was no longer room in my life to do that running away I’d become so good at. Here, now, I had no choice – there’s no going back when you’re in labour – you have to keep going through it, even though it hurts and you’re exhausted… because very soon (you hope), you are going to have to push through the things you don’t want to do on a regular basis. You’re going to have a tiny human who is entirely dependent on you for their survival – there’s no room whatsoever for “I’ll feed them later. I’ll just watch two more episodes of this and then feed them”.

And so the contractions kept coming, and I had to keep breathing. And pushing.

And then she was there, and her father was smiling and I was exhausted, confused, and in love.

Then everyone went home, and it was just Alia and I, alone in our hospital room. I stared at her, marveling at how much she looks like her father. Even her sleep-smile is his.

Then I remembered the needle thing in my arm, and how it was attached to a big walky-around thing which was plugged into the wall because the battery was flat, and it dawned on me…

she was staying in my room with me. Motherhood had begun.

I was exhausted from labour. I’d been unable to keep my eyes open to enjoy her when she was born and now I was only going to get a couple of hours sleep before I had to feed her? Change her?

Suddenly, I was terrified, and had to call the midwife to do it for me until that needle thing was able to be taken out in a few hours.

My first job as a mum and already, I had to get someone else to do it.

… this was the other stuff I never expected. That confidence I’d had as a pregnant woman was gone, and had been replaced with a feeling I’ve known far too intimately for far too long – fear and insecurity. I can’t do this. I have no idea what I’m doing. What if it’s wrong? They will judge me and I will get in trouble.

This feeling increased over the next few days and tears would just fall out of my eyes at random moments. My heart had never been so sad in my whole life. It felt that my entire body was built solely to house sadness, and it was full of it – it had no room left for it, so it just spilled over, onto my crisp hospital sheets, onto my failed boobs that my child couldn’t latch onto properly, and, if I’d been able to bring myself to physically touch my child – they would have fallen on her, too… but three days into her life, I didn’t want to hold her, change her, bathe her – I let my mother and my sister do that, and when everyone left at night, the walls would close in and I would fill up with that sad fear again.

Just you and me, kiddo.

I never stopped loving her. I never had mean or negative thoughts about her – she was still the most amazing little creature that has ever existed – it was me that was the problem.

But days passed, and with the incredible support of my family and my partner, sunshine crept back into the room and I was able to cope with the rollercoaster I was beginning to ride.

Now, nineteen days into her life, my little girl is feeding well, sleeping well and filling my entire family’s hearts with a light they haven’t known in many years. Our cats – the previous leaders of the house – have reacted in ways I never imagined – they run to check on her when she cries, and boycat even shared a cuddle with her and her dad yesterday.

Things are coming together…

Out of everything that I never expected, despite the constant warnings given, I never expected to find a love like this. It isn’t just love for my daughter, or a greater depth and passion that I hold for my partner, but an overwhelming awe for my own mother and every single thing she has done and continues to do for us – her children – that has astounded me the most.

I now know what she went through to bring us into this world, physically. I now understand the fear that would have flooded her each time our safety was in question, and I now know that it is impossible to measure the depth of her love for us, and just how overwhelming that is.

I now know that I will never be able to show her how grateful I am because she wouldn’t accept it – wouldn’t deem it necessary – our very existence gives her no choice – she does what she does because we are more important to her than she is.

I now know that that’s what parenthood is all about and that it lasts forever.


Psh. She’s only braver than me because she’s in shock. So what if she’s 5?

It appears that I don’t cope entirely well with hospital visits.

To be fair, I haven’t really had any practice, I’ve never really been sick in my life beyond the odd headcold.
I’ve never had to stay overnight in hospital – not even when I fell through the glass door and needed surgery to repair the nerves and tendons in my wrist – they sent me home after I woke up and I didn’t even get to see what a shitty hospital dinner tastes like!

On Monday, my Doctor gave me the flu vaccination because apparently people like me – those incubating another human inside them – are one of the three groups most highly recommended to have them, and I figured that since he’s been to medical school and I haven’t, it would be best to listen to his advice.

Approximately four hours later, I began to regret that decision when The Worst Cold Plus Other Things started happening to me.

My chest became tight, but I ignored it because over the past few months, a giant ball of baby has begun to sprout from my midsection, and I’ve found that occasionally, this causes all my breathybits to get squished.

I stood up to relieve the pressure but it didn’t really help, and before I had the chance to sit back down, my head began to pound like the drums of Moria after Pippin dropped the stone in the well – this was also something I ignored because Did You Know, hormones create headaches?

As I began to loudly vocalise these problems to my coworkers, my throat started aching – a deep, broken bone kind of ache – not even the “I’m getting sick” ache! It was weird, and so I vocalised this observation too.

“Apparently it’s pretty normal to feel like you’re getting a cold”, reassured one of my co-workers who had just paid a visit to Dr. Google.
“I don’t think your tongue is meant to start stinging though, right?” I replied, trying to get a look at it.

Around 40 minutes had passed since the initial tight chest and now, along with the headache, sore throat, stinging tongue (and lips), every joint in my body had its own little headache and I wanted to cry, and/or die – whichever came first.

I decided to call my dad to pick me up. I needed groceries to make scrambled eggs for dinner because my lifelove had had his wisdom tooth removed around the same time I was getting stabbed with THIS POISON THAT WAS NOW RUINING MY LIFE!

A few short minutes later, I had all my ingredients and climbed back into dad’s car, where I decided it might be time to phone the medical centre again because I was pretty sure I was about to vomit, and shouldn’t really be shivering like this.

They wanted me to come in – the stinging mouth was slightly concerning.

Check-ups were made and consultations with the Bible of Vaccinations were undertaken and it was determined that I wasn’t having an allergic reaction, but a “documented, but rare reaction”.  This is fairly common practice for my family. We don’t do medication normally.

Doc determined that I would feel better if I went over to the Emergency Department to get some IV fluids into me.

By now my fingertips were going slightly blue and I was shivering more than a medieval bride waiting for her gross old husband to make a woman out of her.

I wasn’t allowed to move my wrist, because my veins are almost non-existent and we were forced to IV me right there where my hand comes off my arm – that part of you that you don’t realise you move a lot until you’re no longer allowed to. In fact, were you aware that you bend your wrist approximately INFINITY TIMES A SECOND?

I really needed to move that wrist – I wanted to be on my side. Preferably watching television on my own lounge and for these pain feelings to not be in me. Life was so unfuckingfair.

I looked at the clock with big, hope-filled eyes. Ten minutes had passed. Ten minutes out of the approximate two hours that I would be required to spend there. Fuck a thousand ducks.

I moaned my complaints to my visitors – my ever patient and loving mother – who advised me that I’d already had some miniscule hundred mls of the fluids and only had ONE MILLION MORE to go.
My back hurt. My bones hurt. Even the air that touched my face hurt.
My other visitor – my lifelove with his recently removed wisdom tooth – patted me sympathetically, smiling through the swelling of his face.

Then the emergency ward began to buzz with life as a little girl was brought in – a suspected broken elbow due to a fall from a trampoline.
Apparently it was a bad one. She needed immediate surgery and she was so brave, she was barely making a sound!

That’s because she’s lucky enough to be in shock!

Really, you should worry about me, my body not even protecting me from my own incredible pain.

Plus, the morphine you gave her probably helped! I only got Panadol – and it was in tablet form – tablets I had to sit up to take when I couldn’t even bend my wrist. I had to wriggle my way upright with one hand and then get my mother to hold the cup of water while I popped the tablet in my mouth. Then we had to swap again so I could pick up the SECOND tablet!

My brow definitely needed mopping after that ordeal.

Two and a half hours later, my IV bag emptied of its precious life-saving fluids, I was allowed to go home.

“See you again in a few months” said the Emergency Department Dude, nodding at my bellybump as I held the plaster over the gaping wound that had been gouged into my arm by the needle.

Thankfully I have shown that I bear the burden of pain stoically.