A birth day.
The night and days before you become another year older I find myself playing a game. It’s always “this time last year”, “this time two years ago”.
On the seventeenth, it’s this was so very nearly your birthday.
On the twenty-ninth it’s 11 am and this time two years ago I was mildly contracting in a cafe.
Then at 9 pm I think of candle-lit baths, then fingers white-knuckled as I breathed through it all.
10 pm hips swaying through contractions to music. 11:30 crawling into bed in the hope of sleep, on it goes until the midnight hours. Those soft watered down hours between sleep and awake, they merge into joy and cake, presents wrapped in silk and your sweet face illuminated by the warm glow of beeswax candles. The day when you were born is always, always yours alone. It’s 7:36 pm. The moment you came.
But the day and moments before. I claim them as mine. It’s my time to reminisce and to play my little game. The twenty-ninth is the day when I started to become a mother, the moments of sweet pain that began to bring me to you.
My eyes linger a little longer on you today, I watch you nap and keep sneaking into our room just to stare at you a little longer. I know that come bedtime tonight, I will do the same. As I read you a book in bed, I will probably read one or two more than I usually would just to savour it. When I say that birthday poem as we turn out the light, I will probably cry. Today, your words feel like a balm as they wash over me today. I keep sneaking photos of you, filming you as to keep you just as you are. The last day that you are one.
You are magic. This piece of me and your dad that together we made, and now exists outside of us both. I grew you, I held you inside of me for over nine months and felt you move inside me. My favourite were the mornings when your dad had gone to work and sometimes I would slip my head under the covers while you danced inside of me.
You still dance now. You dance in the middle of the kitchen, shout “bounce” during the beat of your favourites. You dance in the middle of shops, and sing the last word of each line of each song you know.
Did I become a mother the moment you were conceived? Was it the moment I felt that first flutter and knew if was you. Was it the moment you were born, pulled from me by kind doctors while I slept unaware. The moment I awoke and was told I had a daughter? Or was it as I was wheeled to you, craned my neck around to see you, held hands out between hospital bed and incubator to touch the soft skin of your belly for the first time. I felt you breathe.
I usually avoid touching the scar that sweeps it’s way across my abdomen - it’s numbness still feels alien - but in the shower this morning I felt it’s ridges, looked at the silvery paleness that shone through skin in the mirror. I have a physical reminder of your beginnings, I feel grateful for the existence of that line now.
It’s important that I mark it. That I hungrily absorb every moment of the bittersweet of this time of year. It’s the most important thing that I have ever done, those intangible moments in which I became. Metamorphosis.
My game has an added layer of challenge this year, an extra bit of mental arithmetic to keep my on my toes. I’ve got to play this time two years ago minus nine hours. But I will still do it. I’ve toyed with setting an alarm at 4:35 am on the thirty-first, just so I can be aware as we slip into the minute that you filled lungs with air and cried. Thank goodness that you cried.
Every day I get to marvel at the luck of you, the pure light and warmth that you are. The very fact that you chose me. The unadulterated happiness and unabashed emotion you share; the small, hot hands you place on either side of my face as I try to lull you into sleep . But today, I am marvelling at the fact that I am a mother.
I am currently taking bookings for the Kind Motherhood group course for a late September enrolment. If you want to find support from a small village of mothers (just six others including me), including six weekly group calls and four weeks of content on modern motherhood and parenting, click here to find out more. I look forward to joining you on a journey to a kinder future for yourselves and your children!