120 days ago I sat swollen, full of fluid and a delightful 19.8 kg heavier. Today as our baby girl sleeps downstairs I find myself upstairs really writing for the first time. The last 4 months have been full of completely present moments…tears of joy, red eyes from broken sleep and above all… GLORIOUS grieving.
This will be the last time I’ll smell my newborn. This will be the final moments I will hold a tiny human I call my own. This is the last time my breasts will fill each few hours and I’ll have that sensational let down feeling. It will be the last time I shop in the aisle for breast pads so I don’t leak. The bassinet will be used for the final time. The newborn clothes to be washed and packed away to gift some special ladies in the future. I don’t think I’ve cried as much, as this is the completion I had always wanted to know but never understood.
On my final night in the Mater Hospital, Sydney, I was by myself with our baby when a divine midwife named Max (whom I connected with straight away) came in. It was close to midnight and she placed a cheese and tomato toastie and some lindt chocolate for me down as a gesture (also because this is what I ate in the delivery suite straight after Evita being born, nothing has ever tasted so good!). I tearfully said thank you for her enthusiasm, her gift with babies and her love as a midwife as my eyes welled up knowing it would be the last time. The next morning as we left I was a complete mess. I could not walk back into the birthing suite for the final time, it was all too much because I knew as I was blubbering away, we walked out as a family of 6. Two boys, two girls and my birthing days were over. It was over.
A few weeks later I returned to the hospital, I had to walk in again without crying! I wanted to hug my dear midwife who helped me through labour with a few of our children. I wanted to look once more at the birthing ward. I wanted to take in the smell of the hospital, have the final cake at their high tea (actually I had numerous cakes at their high tea let’s not lie) and look once more at the tiny cribs they place newborns in. I wanted to bless my obstetrician and midwives with more than a present but also cards with words that flowed into essays reminding them that they bring life (and life abundantly) into the world. Because of their gifts and talents they gifted us with the safe and healthy arrival of children into our family.
I would come home, feed Evita and stare at her as tears welled up, still in shock we’d had a girl, still in shock she had arrived, still in shock after such an un-enjoyable and challenging pregnancy it was her the whole time inside. To never know what we were having but now here she was, earth side.
I sigh when she wakes for a feed in the night-time being so relieved her lungs are alive and she wakes to tell me. I hold her longer when it rains on the feeding chair because I breathe it in knowing soon she will sleep through the night and that’s it!
I am no longer worried or anxious of how to get her back to sleep because finally after having four babies I know she will go to sleep when she is tired. I also know that I now have 3 other little beings to be awake and alive for and so, the day must go on and, courage and coffee comes with the dawning of each new day.
The 16 weeks have gone so fast but also so rapidly slow because finally I controlled the pace of which I would introduce Evita to the world. I chose when to have visitors over, and not to feel obliged to say yes to everyone, I chose to sit on the floor with her most days staring, feeding, singing and bathing together during the day. I napped often. I chose to watch romantic comedies in the middle of the day because I could. I ordered in food because why not and, comfortably sat in my dressing gown and not once changed. Not because I didn’t have the time or was too tired but because I was homely and wanted to be and stay at home with her and my big full family.
I would not have changed anything if I did it all again and that is a great feeling of contentment. To not want to re-do something but be so happy with how you handled the season in front of you, that instead you find yourself smiling even more.
I let my phone ring out, I answered when I wanted to and I never felt rude or selfish because I knew this was it. My final moment of being a newborn mum at 35 years young. I had experienced it at ages 28,30,32 and now.
With the final and toughest 3kg on me still to lose (and I know it will happen but whilst my milk is priority to her, the hardcore running will come later in the year) I am amazed to know that a woman’s body can form, create and carry a human, that 2 heartbeats are working together inside of women (sometimes more if you’re having multiples) and that every scan we had, every ultrasound, was another step closer to guessing if it was a boy we were going to hold or a girl.
And so I say to every new mother, impending mother to be or a mother on her first or her 8th baby…don’t let the outside world swallow you up. Don’t feel the need to say yes to everyone, don’t feel the obligation you have to join a mothers group or that the school cake stall needs you. Don’t feel bad in saying “NO”. Feel liberated in saying you are in a baby bubble and you are going to hold onto it for as long as you can.
The parties will come again, the ladies lunches will resume, the work will be there for you at some point, but for now be in a blissful haze. Soon you’ll find the phone calls will stop, the presents won’t arrive at your door any more, the meals dropped at your doorstep will have slowed down and the excitement around dies down BUT not for you. Your baby is still as excited as ever to see your face each and every morning regardless of the night you’ve had. She/he will still smile when the sun rises.
You will still be fascinated and in awe of what you’ve created.
Your capacity will have to increase, your tired eyes will see things differently but your heart will remain the same.
It’s OKAY to be in a quiet season, so do it, fully embrace it. Leave social media scrolling for later (we all know half of it is not whats behind the real lens anyway). Be confident in you taking time out.
I have and it’s been so wonderful. I’ve been comfortable in what I’ve said yes to and the days I’ve had nothing on, I’ve learnt to BE; totally be, potter around the house, clean up, make dinner early, stare at Evita, slink into a bath and pour lots of cups of tea.
Your baby will never learn, grow and develop so much in their entire human life as the first 12 months so don’t go back into the world just yet. Stay in yours and LIVE IT with your little newly created wonderfully delicious and divine baby.
All these incredible black and white photos captured by the amazing @ameliasoegijonophoto