Becoming Mama

July 18, 2014

HospitalInstagram

Our little girl is over three weeks old already. I can’t quite believe it…

On 25th June, just after midnight, my waters broke. Twelve hours later our gorgeous Kaya Grace was lifted out of the water and placed in my arms, Rasmus right behind us. We were totally smitten from the start and it still feels totally surreal that we get to keep her.

Kaya and Mama

I meant to come and post here much sooner, but goodness, these first few weeks have been a bit of a blur. I have never been more tired (a friend described sleep deprivation as “a kind of torture” yesterday and I tend to agree). We are figuring out nappies and how to get her chubby little arms into those tiny clothes without her screaming blue murder, attempting to get all three us out of the house together occasionally, dealing with poo explosions (the latest today in the middle of the park), texting my mama-friends a few times a day with new questions about her, or about my own body and its recovery.

And in the midst of all that chaos, I’m working through my own emotions from the birth, dealing with the hormones that like to make me cry every few hours and trying to remember to drink enough water and take my vitamins. It’s a lot! Often it just feels hard. Like “maybe we’ll be a one-child family” hard.

Kaya and Far

But then I look at her lying next to me on her quilt, making funny squeaks and grunts in her sleep, and my heart is fit to explode. The feelings I have for her are less sentimental and more fierce. Like if you do anything to hurt my baby I will take you down. You’re most likely to find me crying when she’s crying because I can’t handle her being upset. I will do anything in my power to make her happy.

And so I’ll feed her again for the third time this hour even when it hurts. I’ll carry her around at 4am until she sleeps because she’s still a bit freaked out lying on her own. I’ll lie and sit in awkward positions to help her feel more comfortable. I’ll ignore the fact that we haven’t cleaned the house in three weeks, that the laundry is piling up, I’ve dozens of emails to reply to, a blog without posts, and dozens of thank you cards to write and send.

Because I’d do anything for her. This love is fierce.

And because, goodness, those cheeks! Could she be any cuter?!

Kaya and Mama 2

**

Thank you so much to all of you who have messaged us, tweeted us, emailed, sent cards and gifts, dropped over meals, held Kaya so I could shower, and generally been so thrilled for us. We are so grateful and will eventually find our new normal – hopefully with a little time to reply to you all!

The blog might continue to be a little quiet for a while, but I’m still around on twitter and instagram (they’re easier to keep up with one-handed in the middle of the night while she feeds in the dark…) and I’d love to connect with you there.

{ 7 comments }

grieving without fear

June 21, 2014

poppies

A few weeks ago I cried at the hospital.

It was the end of a prenatal class where we’d been talking about the birthing process. We were all lying on our sides, propped up by a mass of pillows, spending some welcome time in relaxation before the class ended.

I’d felt the tension in me the whole class. I hadn’t realised that husbands were allowed to come so I was one of the few women there sitting alone on the floor mats. And as I lay there, “relaxing”, unbidden my eyes filled with tears.

I am confident, I am safe, I am secure.

I hurriedly whispered one of my favourite mantras from our hypnobirthing course to myself and blinked back the tears. My hand lay across my belly and I felt our baby roll and wriggle and I smiled to feel it push back against me as I rubbed it’s back underneath my skin.

I am not scared of giving birth. That seems to surprise a lot of people coming from a first time mama, but I feel calm and prepared. I’m looking forward to it.

But I have been scared of the hospital.

The few times I’ve crossed that car park towards the peach coloured maternity building, I’ve felt my body tense up, my palms sweat, my stomach turn. My body remembers this place even before my mind has caught up.

Last time we were here, we lost a baby. Last time there were screens filled with unbearable silence. Last time it meant waking up in a crowded recovery room, kind French-speaking nurses wiping away the tears as I wished and wished for everything to be different.

Everything is different this time.

I’m days away from my due date. This baby is seemingly healthy and chubby and incredibly active. It claims extra body space from me each day, kicking me in the ribs if I sit still too long, doing happy somersaults when I lie down to sleep.

I am so looking forward to meeting this child. I am so in love already.

This second pregnancy has been healing in the most beautiful of ways. I’m lucky (if that’s the right word) that we had no further problems – no infertility, no repeat miscarriages. I’m the picture of health, apparently. And yet. There will always be a gap. There will always be a child missing.

I came home that day two weeks ago and told Rasmus through angry tears, This should be our second child. People should be tutting at us for having children so close together (it would be 17 months). There should be a busy toddler distracting me from last minute preparations.

Grief is a strange animal. Most days my focus is entirely on this new child, my heart brimming with joy rather than sadness, the thought of that first baby a distant memory that no longer stings in the same way. And then there are moments when the tears suddenly well up in response to some deeply felt, intricately remembered moment. And I recognise the grief is still there.

And I’m ok with that. “It’s good you cried” my best friend texted me afterwards. And it is. That first baby was a part of me and I lost that part. It will never be fine.

But healing comes. Moment by moment. And joy shares space with sadness until you learn to bear it.

This week healing came in the face of a kind midwife who walked us through the hospital corridors, showed us in and out of rooms, explained every aspect of how this will work. And I stood in that hospital room, imagining my baby in the cot next to the bed, my husband in the corner armchair. We walked the corridor and he pointed out the poppies growing wild on a building site outside (he knows I love them). And I felt the fear slip away a bit more.

Here’s what I’m learning – that the grief can exist without the fear. The grief I will somehow always carry with me, even as it changes and shifts and diminishes over the years. But the fear has no right to exist here in me. Fear is not part of the memory I wish to keep.

A wise man once wrote that perfect love drives out fear. So I focus on that. Focus on loving this little one about to make its big entrance. Focus on the love that I share with my husband, who has been the best support I could ask for. Focus on the love of a midwife I barely know who saw my tears and offered me what she could. Focus on the love I still feel for the little one we lost when its life had barely begun.

And focus on the Love that will keep carrying me through, that has taught these feet to dance again…

I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.
I will build you up again…
and you will go out to dance with the joyful.

{ 2 comments }

Lingering Light

June 19, 2014

“…The summer solstice has become one of my favourite times of year. It tends to sneak up on me, coming so early before the European schools have closed for the year, when everyone is still “looking forward” to the summer. This year is different though. My Midsummer Baby is due to arrive any day now. […]

Read the full article →

when living water flows

June 17, 2014

Walking to my favourite coffee shop in Luxembourg city centre yesterday, I walked past a small crane on the back of a truck, with two people in it, installing a new street art feature down the pedestrian street: dozens of colourful umbrellas hanging in rows. It seems that even (especially) after two weeks of wall […]

Read the full article →

Waking

June 5, 2014

I’m in a writing group here in Luxembourg that meets once a month to share our work and give each other encouragement and helpful critique. I’ve loved it for pushing me outside the normal boundaries of my writing and making me try something new. For May, our prompt was to write flash fiction (up to […]

Read the full article →

right now – May 2014

May 31, 2014

May has been so full that it has just raced by! We started it in Denmark, with a week to visit family and friends, and then the last three weeks have been full on handing over work and responsibilities, preparing for Baby’s arrival in about a month’s time. I can’t quite believe we’re this close […]

Read the full article →

Meeting our sponsored children

May 30, 2014

It’s been one year since our trip to Uganda and Burundi, to attend the Amahoro gathering in Entebbe, visit our friends Kelley and Claude in Burundi with the SheLoves group, and then to Masaka, Uganda to visit an old friend of mine and see the ministry of a local church there that we support. I […]

Read the full article →

our urban balcony garden

May 24, 2014

When we were looking for our new home in Luxembourg two and a half years ago, we had a few important criteria. We wanted to be walking distance from the city centre (where Rasmus works and where I work-in-cafes), and we wanted outside space. Our previous flat in Brussels was awesome (no, really. it was) […]

Read the full article →

Unsure Whispers in the Wind

May 22, 2014

My favourite thing about our city flat is its south facing balcony. I love the expanse of sky you can see sitting out here. I love that you can see the distant line of woodland-topped hills beyond the edge of the city to the west. I love that in the winter the sun rises behind […]

Read the full article →

Scottish Lunch

May 20, 2014

What do you do when you’re seven and a half months pregnant? Host a lunch for six of your favourite girlfriends and cook four courses… Hmm. I might not recommend it as normal practise but it was a lot of fun, even if I could have slept for three days afterwards! I have this wonderful […]

Read the full article →