When I think about pregnancy and birth, I get so overwhelmed. The whole process still seems weird to me, even now, months later. I still can’t get over it. The sheer miracle of it all. It feels so alien and yet so human at the same time. There are a number of things that I find intriguing about it. Firstly (and probably foremostly) I grew a person. Inside my body. A person. And I grew this person out of essentially nothing. Out of cells. Cells which multiplied. And multiplied again. Over and over until eventually, those cells became a heart, which began to beat. They became lungs. They became a stomach, a bladder, a liver, arms and feet. They became a person. A person with no knowledge. No preconceptions. Nothing. Just a tiny person, waiting to be born.
And then, for nine months that person shared my body. Where I went, he went. What I ate, he ate. I kept him safe and warm. He had eyes, though he could not see and his lungs were filled with water – that’s one thing that I find intriguing about pregnancy and birth – In utero, babies are essentially fish. He did not need air to breath, as oxygen was transferred to him via his umbilical chord. He did not need to eat, as that was transferred to him in the same process. He did not need blankets or clothes, as my womb is just the right temperature for his growing self. Inside my body everything was taken care of, without much thought from me. Aside from the obvious things, I continued to live my life as I always did. I remember waiting for something to happen, something that would signify pregnancy, a moment perhaps? I don’t think it ever really sunk into that I was pregnant. Aside from the ailments that come with the gig, I continued to live my life like I always had. I ate good food and watched good films. Spent time with the manly one. Did my nails. Read books. Prepared our nest. Life went on and as if on auto pilot, the nurturing took care of itself. For nine months, I was this person’s life support system, and I didn’t even fully realise it.
Then, when the time came, he got ready to make his grand entrance into the world. He rotated and went head down, burying deep beneath my pelvis. Somehow, he knew what to do without ever been told. No instruction manuals, no how-to guide, just instincts that were laid out when he was conceived. Embedded in his DNA was all the instruction he needed, the blueprint of life. During labour, I was surprisingly calm, though the manly one might tell you something different. My body contracted and released, urging him down. When I think about it, it’s almost as he were the last little bit of toothpaste left in the tube – and I was trying to get him to the surface, onto the metaphoric brush that we call life. Though I find it hard to recall the pain now, I remember thinking that my back was going to rip apart. I remember thinking “I just want this baby out now” And then, it all began. The miracle of life: birth. I’m not going to go into the details of birth but let me just say one thing – Once your baby is out and he’s all clean and pink, it’s hard to imagine what he went through. You think “well, he can’t possibly have come out of there” – but then you remember – yes he did, those stitches are living proof.
And then you take your baby home and then the fun really begins. At first, you will feel lost. Unsure. Even a little scared. You will wonder if you’re really cut out for this and possibly doubt yourself often. Well, at least that’s how I felt anyway.Then I got to know him. I watched his personality grow. I tuned into him and now I can tell his cry from a hundred others. He fits into your life like a puzzle piece – the one you never knew you were missing until he arrived. His tears will break your heart. His laughter will fill you with joy. Being responsible for another person doesn’t seem as hard as you thought it would be, or as hard as it was. Instead it seems natural… normal. The way it’s supposed to be. Occasionally, you will yearn for the person you once were, the person who was interested in art, film, politics… Now your life revolves around baby poop, feeding schedules and making sure you’re home in time for naps. At first, you will find it difficult to talk about anything other than your precious wee one, but as time goes and he drops from BEING your life to becoming a part of it, you will find your old self. Make sure you find time in the day to do something that you love, and to appreciate your other half. Becoming a family should strengthen the bond between you, not tear you apart.
You will watch the months whizz by and wonder where they went. It becomes difficult to remember life without him. Pregnancy seems now a distant memory. Those months spent preparing, waiting anxiously… feel like a dream. Even the birth – you will find that hard to recall. And life before any of that? Even harder. Time is a fickle thing – how is it that last year can feel like just yesterday but so long ago at the same time? Time flies fast and your baby literally changes before your eyes and you can’t imagine him ever being different to the way he his now. But sometimes, I look at him and I remember. All those thoughts I had of him. All those nights I stayed up late thinking what he would be like. What he would look like. Smell like. Taste like. Waiting for the time where I’d be able to have him in my arms. It all seemed unreal, slightly detached. Like a dream. And then I look again.
That’s him. The person I grew in my body. The person I dreamed of. That’s him there. That’s his smile. Those are his arms. And his legs. He is everything I imagined. He is more. He is my world and everything in it.