premature babies

Falling in Love

(Several of my friends have recently become new mothers. As I rejoice with them in their discovery of this wondrous thing called motherhood, I am reminded of my own first steps on this endless journey. In honor of fiercely beautiful and strong new mothers like Fotu, Vivienne, Manuia and soon-to-be Vanessa – I am sharing again, these thoughts written upon the birth of baby number five.)

Her head turns to the sound of my voice. Her eyes follow my every move. Her cheeks are soft against mine. My heartbeat lulls her to sleep. She trusts me completely. She is my every waking thought. ( and lets face it – shes waking me up heaps!)I’ve spent the last month faling in love. Surrendering to the wonder that is Bella. Until she is everything to me.

You see, unlike most mothers, it takes me time to fall under my children’s spell. That instantaneous superhuman mother love other women feel as soon as their child pops out – that just aint what Im about. My newborn babes alternately bewitch and bewilder me. Totally knocked out for my first delivery – i remember them wheeling me to a room full of mewling infants encased in incubators. “There, thats your little boy!” they said, pointing to one scrawny skinny little thing amongst many…’You dont say?’ was my hazy reply as it ocurred to me that they could hand me any old kid, tell me ‘its YOURS!’ and i wouldnt tell the difference. Yes i gave him milk. And held him. And cried when they poked and prodded him for blood. But not until 3 weeks later as i wandered the deserted halls of a sleeping hospital at 3am unable to sleep for thinking about him alone in his glass box – did it hit me. This tiny boy is MINE and I’m his mother. He’s stuck in there helpless and aint nobody else but me that will ever know him and take care of him the way i can. And I love him desperately. There was no parting us after that.

My second child was a full term 8 pounder. After 18 hours of horrific laboring hell they placed this huge THING on my chest. Im sorry to confess that I shuddered and asked – ‘eeewww what is that?!’ I’d never seen a newborn baby before…(wondering how could they be so mean to me after id suffered for so many hours.) “Its your baby!” they replied brightly. ‘You must be joking’ was my shocked thought. “Its grotesque!” Happily, my daughter wove her magic and eventually snuck her way into my heart.

Yes, step after faint little step my five little ones crept in when I wasn’t watching. Perhaps on a starfilled nite as i lay totally wiped out from endless breastfeeding,or was it one afternoon after bath time and bejewelled sunlight danced on their perfect skin as they nestled in my arms. Or when anguish filled them as a nurse injected their chubby little leg and they turned confused hurt filled eyes upon me their mother – their supposed protector? All i can say for certain is that each of them inspires a fierce protectiveness and an overwhelming love.

As I lull Bella to sleep on the verandah on a windswept evening – I am in awe of her. Tiny pink fingers unfurl in the light, eyelashes a flutter in the face of eternity. I shall reach up and pick a handful of stars for you my love, a silver shimmer to adorn your hair as we float in the night sky. Glorying in the heavens, I am reminded of a line I once read “Now wonderingly engrossed/ In your fearless delicacies/I am launched upon sacred seas/Humbly and utterly lost/In the mystery of creation/ Bells, bells of the ocean.”

That’s how I feel with you. Lost in the mystery of creation.

Baby Maneesha, born at 28wks. Photographed by Anne Geddes.