All she wanted was to fall asleep. She shut her eyes tight. The more she willed herself to sleep, the more sleep seemed to slip away. Her insides were on fire. From her stomach, through her gatroesophageal sphincter, up her oesophagus and into her mouth- the acerbic, nausea inducing taste travelled it’s chosen path. Up and down. Incessant. Punishing. Unremitting.
Lying down was futile. She turned to the side, shoved the half a dozen pillows contoured to fit her awkward body and bulging belly aside, and pushed herself up. Her bladder was ready to explode. She dragged herself out of bed for her fourth bathroom break of the night.
She fumbled in the dark for the night-lamp and clicked it on. The golden glow shed light on the time. 2 AM. She stared at the still, peaceful form asleep beside her. She loved him, but at that moment she hated him. For being able to sleep. For being comfortable. For putting her through this.
She walked out. It would be a long night.
She decided to abandon her attempt at trying to find a comfortable position to sleep in lying down. She settled heavily into the cozy, quilted armchair. Pity it did not rock. She definitely needed some mechanical assistance to fall asleep. And pills were out of bounds of course.
She threw her favorite wrap around her and settled in. With her feet propped up on the foot stool and a miniature pillow to fill the arch of her back, she was as comfortable as she could possibly be. To kill time, she placed her palm on her belly and slowly established connection with the being growing inside of her. It was an enjoyable ritual that she indulged in often these days. Like tuning into a radio station, she tuned into the ever expanding belly of hers.
She is always aware of her, but there are times she can almost feel her. Living. Moving. A powerful jab to the ribs and she made her presence known. The yet to be born child. A daughter apparently.
She was almost ready to meet the world. Almost.
She smiled as the little one performed a series of somersaults. Followed by a quick succession of kicks to the ribs. It hurt. But she continued to smile. It was a pleasurable pain, if there was ever such a thing.
As, the night wore on, a cloud of foreboding descended. She seemed to violently hiccough for over an hour. And then abruptly stopped.
An hour passed.
Anxiety crept into the room. Slowly. Soundlessly.
J kept waiting for her to kick. Move. Jump. Flutter. Wiggle. Anything. To show some sign if life.
There was nothing.
She had been feeling odd since the day before. Something seemed off.
By morning, anxiety was long gone. It was full blown fear and dread.
How can you love something you have never seen? Or held?
A being you have never met becomes the center of your universe. The focus of your every action.
The day the little one lay still for a few hours, was the day J became a Mum. That dreadful morning, after the sleepless night; absolutely nothing mattered. J wished and prayed and hoped.
It is so easy for the little life to be snuffed out. The very thought, stilled her heart and numbed her mind.
And after putting it’s mum through a hell of a night (and morning), the little one calmly swims about on the black and white monitor in the almost- dark radiologist’s room.
Another scare. Another instance where a practical, logical, sound of mind woman is made a blithering, confused, anxious mess. By a being that is yet to even make a mark on this earth.
That night, four weeks before I gave birth; I changed.
I became a parent. A mum.
Signed up for vulnerability and chaos.
For boundless love, endless joy and unending worry.
I felt bad for arguing with my mum constantly. For being irritated with her when she fussed about me. Now I know what she must have gone through.
That night, I realized the magnitude of the task that lay ahead. Of raising a child. Of moulding its character and shaping it’s future. Doing the best you can amidst life’s unpredictable twists and surprises. And most importantly, of keeping it safe. Healthy. In one piece. Whole. Unharmed.
With parenthood comes a lifetime of worry. There is no escaping it. So much has happened in the past year. The laughter and joy has been balanced by fear and anxiety in equal measure. You folks know by now, the early weeks in hospital and of the utter helplessness of having to care for an ill newborn.
You think things will get better. That the anxiety will go away. But it never does. Not really.
Lil’ Zoe fell off a chair today.
She fell from a bed two months ago.
Each time, I had a mini cardiac arrest.
Each time, I was in the room and had looked away for a tiny, tiny second.
Each time, when I think back; there was “no way” it could have happened.
Yet, it did. And I have to live with it.
The lil’ one is fine.
She is constantly bumping her head, against walls, railings, chairs, cabinets, cupboards; even the hard, tiled floor. I have to watch, smile and pray that she will not harm or hurt herself. I have to let her be.
An inquisitive, almost- walking baby is hard to supervise. No matter how much you baby- proof your home, your baby will find a new way to hurt herself. A new method to bang her head somewhere. She will find something hot or sharp to touch and feel. She will find a high place to fall from.
I live in constant state of hurry and panic. I never know if she will be safe- for the two seconds that I leave her alone. And even after you go above and beyond, and do everything that you could possibly think of, the little one will ultimately take a bad tumble. A painful one. In an utterly unexpected manner.
You blame yourself. Your curse fate. And you cuss at the universe. You even have a spat with your God, whoever he or she may be. There is nothing worse, that seeing your child in pain. Of seeing your little one, on the ground, possibly hurt, wailing with pain and pure, unadulterated fear.
Imagine having to walk around knowing that the one thing you value and treasure most is out there, in this harsh, unkind, treacherous world; fighting her own battles in life. Her battle today, centers around a particularly edgy, nasty chair. I might have to rid myself of the chair for a while. But then, can I remove every hurdle, every danger, every trouble from her path?
I just have to deal with it.
Or have to find a baby- fall- proof home…or world!
Till next time…