No lover’s preoccupations could tarnish this perfect day.
The day when my Gracie was born.
At 4.30am I woke knowing my waters had just broken. It wasn’t the gush I expected and I put on sanitary napkins.
Because of my blood pressure, we went straight to the hospital.
I remember sitting in the 4-wheel drive waiting for my love to get in the driver’s seat. It was still pitch black, mid-winter and I wondered how many hours it would be before I would meet my little girl.
‘You didn’t need to pack that much, surely?’ he said, exasperated.
‘Probably not!’ I laughed.
I’d packed and repacked the hospital bag over the last month. Clothes, baby clothes, chap sticks, snacks, reading material, CDs, tissues, water (‘they have water in the hospital,’ Mum laughed at me). I even took olive oil to coat the baby in so that the first poo wouldn’t stick. The nurses, however, wouldn’t let me use it. It was a huge suitcase. I can’t remember what else I stashed away but hardly any of it was used. A very thoughtful cousin kindly recorded CDs for me, but I could only handle listening to one in the end.
After extensive internet searches, I decided to develop a birthing plan. It was fairly simple – as minimal intervention as possible – depending on the health needs of Gracie and myself; and a preference for no pain killers.
Many people were amazed that I had decided not to have pain killers. I responded ‘I’ll see how I go. If it’s too much I will.’
But to be honest this was my Mount Everest. My life has been a tumult and I wanted to do this for myself. And in the end, although I was induced to speed things up (and can actually make contractions more severe), I didn’t use painkillers, not Panadol nor gas.
I thought I prepared myself by doing yoga. Gracie and I were perfectly aligned for a safe and short childbirth. Not all women are that lucky and there is no alternative but to have greater interventions. I certainly wasn’t lucky when it came to breastfeeding.
However, using no painkillers made me feel triumphant and I was bathed in feelings of well-being and gratitude as I knew my baby was perfectly healthy and contented and would join me in moments.
The doctor brought her to me on my left side. Her eyes wide and inquisitive. Staring at me with rapt attention. I still feel her warm wet body, see the dappled cloak of mucous and blood on her skin, and the heaviness of the white hospital blanket covering us both.
I closed my eyes and became aware of my scent on her.
The moment seemed to stand still as I held this light little bundle in my arms. A moment to make a forever promise that a mother makes to her helpless, dependent baby on the day of her birth.
I couldn’t believe that this life had grown in me – that my body had nurtured this being. That we were both healthy and alive, despite my mental health, despite my age. If I hadn’t felt so tired, or holding a tiny precious package, I would have hit a series of air punches!
Nothing leading up to that day, or what came after, can take away that perfect day.
The day I was introduced to my daughter.