I was recently going through some boxes in my store room and I came across my baby-scrap-book. I pulled it out and sat on the floor in my bedroom and pored over a part of my life I think about daily and yet parts of which I have almost forgotten – my pregnancy.
My pregnancy was a surprise. A big one. I look back now and wish I could re-live those months, do them differently, do them better. But perhaps it is better to have lived through that time, to make the prize at the end of it all that much sweeter.
I found out I was pregnant at 6 weeks. I only really accepted that I was pregnant 4 months later. I was terrified, I felt alone, I was in shock and I wasn’t ready. There was no big Facebook announcement. There was no gender-reveal party. There were people who ignored me, people who ostracised me and people who judged me. And it all took its toll on me. It took me a while to connect with what was happening. It took a doctor scanning my tummy every few days so I could see what I was fighting for. It took a friend to force me into my first baby shop. It took a colleague to surprise me with baby socks, without realising she was the first person to give my baby a gift. It took me a long time to get ready, to mentally prepare myself to be a Mama. And it took a whole lot of people surrounding me with a whole lot of love!
I was one of those lucky pregnant women who hardly put on any pregnancy weight (only 6kg in total). I didn’t crave anything totally random like sand, but I did crush black pepper onto almost everything I ate, and craved Greek salad and minestrone soup like someone suffering from scurvy. My baby was healthy. She loved music and water – she would do somersaults in my tummy when I was in the bath or when loud music played. She kicked and wriggled every day. She got hiccups. She sat on my bladder during business meetings causing many humiliating moments of ‘please hold that thought, I need to pee again’. And she kept me warm during winter.
I had scans regularly, more than most Mamas. I ate as healthily as I could. I saw a therapist every week with the instruction “I’m having a baby in a few months… Get me ready”! I kept busy and surrounded myself with positive and supportive people. I wrote a journal and I spent a lot of time thinking. I attended pre-natal classes with my own Mama in the evenings leading up to the birth. My childhood dog passed away and my brother’s lung collapsed during that time too, so it was a heavy year.
I was booked in for a C-section on Thursday 1 September 2011. The night before she was born was a mixture of excitement and nerves. I went for dinner with my family and then I went home alone for the last time. I had a bubble bath, painted my nails pink and I sat down and wrote my baby girl a letter:
It is the night before you are due to be born. I’m feeling nervous, overwhelmed and excited to finally meet you! You are about to be born into a world full of love – there are so many people awaiting your arrival – you will be surrounded by an amazing family and great friends.
It has been an honour to have you permanently with me the last few months. You have already taught me so much about myself, my values and my life.
I look forward to meeting you tomorrow morning, and I can’t wait to begin your life’s journey with you!
Love you always and forever,
And on the other side of the card I had written:
Indescribable – adjective
(1) exceeds expectations
(2) the amount of butterflies you feel when you know that in less than 12 hours you’ll meet your daughter
The following morning at 8:40am I met my little girl. And indescribable doesn’t even come close to what that moment felt like.
Sitting here now I would like to add to that letter. I would like to write a letter to myself, to the person I was about to become that day, to the Mama that had not yet been born:
She is perfect. You did well. Everything was worth it and more.
The Mama You Will Become
My pregnancy may not have been what I had envisioned or hoped for as a young girl. It may have been a surprise and it may have been a difficult journey. But it was a lesson. A lesson in strength, a lesson in love and a lesson in perseverance. From the day I found out I was having her, I changed. Suddenly the thought of being separated from her, from this tiny creature I had never even met, became the most painful thought of my life. Suddenly ‘I’ became ‘we’.
My daughter is my everything. My daughter introduced me to myself.