Today I started washing and folding little tiny baby clothes. The soft baby detergent scent filled the air as I looked around at the room that’s about to be turned into a nursery with all of the things we bought that do not belong to us. Gifted stuffed animals, books, diapers, a crib, stroller, car seat, dresser with a baby changing table.. I’m just about a month away from one of the biggest changes in my life but for some reason, I do not feel overwhelmed or afraid, just a sense of calm.
For a long while that door remained closed. His room. This thought hit me one day as I walked passed it. Usually when a door had been closed in my home, it meant someone died and their possessions were in there. This is a new feeling, preparing for someone’s entry and not their departure.
I remember the first day we found out, we were ready and had started trying so I did the test not expecting it to even be positive. Most things in my life which I have longed for, have been things I’ve had to struggle for, fight for, work for. I imagined a child would be no different. A few days after our world suddenly appeared to have brighter colors and sweeter sounds, we confirmed it on ultrasound, 8 wks 5 days. Heart rate 172bpm.
The next few months flew by with a dream of a pregnancy - no complications or morning sickness. What followed was a blur: step 3 exams, a European baby moon, celebrations with our families. Then by the third trimester, the reality kicked in. Along with starting a new job, the baby stuff started coming in, the clothes, the weekly What-To-Expect app notifications comparing his size to fruits with decreasing amount of weeks remaining until birth. His movements intensified, the doctor’s appointments became more frequent, I became more tired.
Now only a few weeks away, everyone is ready and waiting for the phone call. My lovely in-laws are beside themselves with joy. My family, bursting at the seams with excitement.
I look at my husband, who has been my rock this whole time and made this whole time one of the most relaxing and easy times. Patient with my emotional melt downs, reassuring when I was unhappy seeing my body change, he made me feel beautiful the whole time and never once, that I was alone in this. He never missed a doctor’s appointment, cooked on days when I couldn’t nor could I stomach take out. The few times I ate badly which resulted in reflux so severe, included one of the first and only times he ever saw me throwing up for our entire relationship and practically flew into the bathroom when he heard me call out.
These moments, breastfeeding classes, birthing classes, baby CPR classes. Even just walks with our puppy have brought us so much closer, so incredibly in sync and connected.
We think about the times we had before baby, our lives. The ones he will never know. Before his daddy and I even met each other, we lived entire lives and then in finding each other, we created entire lifetimes in a few years.
My youth flashes before my eyes, the memories of days I thought would never end now organized into time lapses. Collections of memories in boxes with labels: My adolescence, my teenage years, my time spent at medical school, a previous short lived marriage, the beginnings of a career and finally the butterfly of a new life.
The days he will never know, when his mother shielded herself from angry hands and careless words, cried for nights at the losses of loved ones and the maternal grandparents he will never meet, how she explored cities with nothing but a map, got lost in places where she couldn’t speak the language, drank cheap wine and champagne, dancing under confetti and flashing lights, when she made 2am incisions down the abdomens of unnamed patients and stitched them back up or studied for days running on Red Bull and coffee as a student, argued against injustices, painted all night, kissed strangers and lost herself in a turquoise sea when she should have been in class on a Wednesday morning.
He will never know of the times I cried in locker rooms and stairwells after losing patients or being berated by seniors. He will never know how I closed my eyes and briefly surrendered as the car hurtled through the air or the PTSD which followed.
Fast forward to the meeting of his father, the adventures and hand holding escapades to new lands which followed. Drunk with love on New Years Eve nights to building a new life together in a new place. How we worked separately, tirelessly and some nights sleepless for a common goal. Learning to dance together, learning to cook together, exploring historic places, twilight into dawn spent smoking hookah for the first time and ordering lobster we couldn’t even finish at a harbor stumbling along the beach. Dancing in a costumed pirate party in the middle of the ocean under a brightly colored, firework sky aboard a cruise line. Beautiful moments during thunderstorms, spur of the moment train journeys and buying his first hand carved toy from a tiny little shop in a fairytale village. A wooden train. Raising a puppy together. Eloping on a Monday morning but months later, happy crying at my sister’s and father-in-law’s speeches at our reception. Watching my in-laws dance with each other in our honor with pure happiness for the first time in years as my husband and I joined them. How they reveled in picking out and purchasing their grandson’s first outfits.
He will never know of the tears we cried the first time we heard his heart beat together, the phone call to tell us ‘its a boy!”, the first time we saw him in his entirety in this anatomical ultrasound. How we squeezed hands while our hearts overflowed seeing his perfect little frame. From his eyes to his vertebrae to his toes. How I had never known it was possible to be so in love with someone I’ve never met.
How it felt like the most beautiful piece of eternity packaged into half an hour.
Trying to keep my head above water, most of my life has been a silent fight just to be okay. To stay focused, stay independent, stay happy. To remove myself from what hurt me, toxic people and places and remain in the light.
Yet this little one will still never know, the hours spent fighting, ruminating, overcoming, persisting. As his tiny little presence will always see pure happiness, joy and love. Not because I will ever have moments of suffering, but because his mere presence has already made everything else seem so small. Now I’m no longer “just a carefree, drunk in love girl trying to find her place in the world”. I’m a completely different entity to him. I'm his mother. Even if I maintain my identity as a professional and a woman, even if I spend nights painting or reading novels end to end or dance all night under the stars enchanted by a champagne spell, I will still be bound dutifully to him to remain forever that - his mother.
I look back on a life that once seemed so large and now seems so small compared to what is to come. I have no idea what will happen from here on out. I’ve been terrified as a doctor thinking about everything that could possibly go wrong. All the things I’ve learnt about and seen. I know the complications. I know what can happen. I’ve been on the other side. I’ve studied embryology, delivered the still born babies, counseled and held the mothers and cried with them, hastily pulled the babies out from caesarean sections and handed to eager and relieved mums, stitched the episiotomies and tears, spent nights scrubbing the amniotic fluid scent out of my hair and skin. I know just making it this far is a blessing and miracle in itself.
Despite the what ifs and the maybes, I’m prepared to take it all on. Prepared to be the best mother I can be for as long as I’m permitted to be. For once, something I’ve wanted so badly simply landed like a feather on my palm. I will cherish it and treasure him forever and protect him as much as I can.
So he will never have to shield himself from angry hands and careless words, he will not have to be afraid, he will not have to question his existence or his choices. He will hopefully have us around long enough to guide him, God willing.
I will never blame him for the changes in my body or our life. It was not his choice to be here. It was ours to bring him into this world.
There are many things he will not truly know, even if he hears about them or reads about them
- but one thing is for sure, he will always know love.