Eleven years ago, I had a giant belly and dreams that were bigger still. I had a twinkle in my eye and a vision of myself as Earth Mother Extraordinaire. I devoured books and became a birthing expert (never mind the tiny fact that I’d never birthed a baby myself) who knew exactly how my baby was going to come into this world. I had a baby’s room decorated in primary colours (we didn’t find out the gender of the baby but I knew it was going to be a boy because my maternal instinct told me so). I had a wardrobe full of twice-laundered onesies (in sensitive formula washing powder) in pristine white.
Eleven years ago, Darren and I assembled a cot with no fancy bumpers because I was paralysed with fear of SIDS. We mounted a black and white mobile that played classical music (Baroque era, of course) because our baby’s brain was going to be stimulated from birth and all those heavy books that had rested on my gargantuan belly told me that black and white patterns were the key. We didn’t buy formula because I was going to breastfeed – I had no choice about that, after all the internet told me that if I didn’t then I would be a baaaad mother.
Eleven years ago, I cried every day as I visited the hospital to have sensors attached to my tummy to see if my baby was still alive. This kid didn’t move. No movement was torture. Every hospital visit began with fear and ended with relief. My baby was fine. Just lazy.
Eleven years ago, I prayed for my baby to be born healthy, unencumbered by obstacles bigger than those we already have, just being alive.
Eleven years ago, it was just Darren and I. It was us and our dreams and our fears and our hope and our faith.
Eleven years ago, I had no idea that my heart had a capacity to love more than the indescribable amount that it already did.
Eleven years ago, I woke up at midnight with cramps. Cramps that recurred first at ten minute intervals, then eight, then five. With each wracking cramp, I smiled because I knew I was about to become a mother. I woke Darren early the next morning, and with butterflies in my regularly contracting tummy, I told him the news. I was calm.
Eleven years ago, as I threw my dolphinmusicaromatherapy birth plan out of the window, I got my first inkling of the unpredictability of parenthood. As the pain became so intense that I cried for it to please stop, I learned for the first time, that motherhood would encompass some of the worst pain I’d ever feel whilst simultaneously delivering insurmountable joy. As the epidural kicked in (the one I had boldly stated in my birth plan that I would not be having) I learned that asking for help is a beautiful thing and that carrying pain on my own would never help anyone.
Eleven years ago, with Darren holding my hand, I pushed and breathed and pushed and I noticed that the fear in his eyes was larger than mine. Then, as our child entered the world, fat and loud and utterly perfect, I learned that the most beautiful things in life are worth any amount of pain. I learned that the combination of Darren and my DNA was breathtakingly magical.
Eleven years ago, I inhaled sharply, then giggled with surprise and elation as I discovered that the son I knew I was going to have was in fact my daughter. In that moment, I learned that my maternal instinct may not always be right and that only medical science can see through skin. Yet, as I held her for the first time and gazed into her bright green eyes, I learned that no ultrasound could ever see her heart like I could.
Eleven years ago, a magical little girl was born and she cast a life-changing spell on Darren and I. Before her first cry, she singlehandedly transformed two ordinary people into parents.
Eleven years ago, I learned that phrases like “making a plan” and “under control” had become nonsensical. I discovered that nonsensical Seuss-like words would be far more effective and better recieved in this new terrain I was now exploring.
Eleven years ago, my life was irrevocably changed. I began a life far more colourful, more flavourful, more intense. I took the first, shaky steps on this wondrous journey that’s given me highs I can’t adequately describe and lows I never imagined I’d see. Watching Miss M grow has been a privilege that I feel unworthy to have been given. I watched in wonder as my baby learned how to crawl, then walk. I watched in fascination as she wrapped strangers around her little finger, so beautiful and engaging was her presence, even as an infant. I watched with adoration as her eyes sparkled when she learned to speak, to sing, to dance. I watched with undiluted love as she became a big sister not once, but twice. I watch her still, as spellbound today as I was eleven years ago. I watch as she sings to me, her vibrant spirit bubbling out of her, uncontainable. I study the delicate beauty in her profile, her angular shoulders, her long, wavy hair. I glow as I see her nurture her baby sister and delight in her role as Big Sis. I watch her sleep, fascinated by this little person, teetering on the cusp between childhood and adolescence.
Eleven years ago, a miracle happened. I became a Mum.
Happy eleventh birthday, my magical Miss M. I love you, I’m grateful for you and I am in awe of you. May the world always see you as I do and may you continue to see the world as you do – with innocence and kindness in your eyes and the boundless enthusiasm you express for what you see.
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