It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost eight years since that night… I’d showered, waddled back into the bedroom, gotten into cozy pjs, and penguin rolled onto the bed. A little while later (around 9pm) I told Shawn that I was pretty sure I’d just wee’d myself! Turns out that was my water breaking, four weeks earlier than expected. ?
A quick call to my mom, because you know, that’s what you do when you don’t know what to do, and we were off to the hospital as she advised. We walked in, smiling and giggling, nervous and excited that we were going to be parents almost a month sooner than we’d thought.
I remember dismissing the wheelchair that I was offered as we walked in; laughing a few minutes later when the sister (looking at the monitor) told me that I’d just had a contraction. I was like, why do people make such a fuss – contractions aren’t that bad, this is going to be a breeze. I was pretty pleased with myself for deciding right at the beginning of my pregnancy that I wanted a natural birth, and no drugs.
A few hours in though, and I was like, WHAT IN THE WORLD IS HAPPENING??? I was alone, as they’d told Shawn to go home and get some rest, because the baby would probably only come by midday the next day. They said I should rest in my room, but I was feeling pain and discomfort like never before in my life, and I was pacing the hall in that ward. I don’t know if the hospital gown had me exposed, and I didn’t care. They did another check, and things were progressing faster than they’d predicted!
Its almost as if my mom, and my friend Jules (who, like my parents, was living two hours away at the time) both sensed this would happen, because instead of coming through the next morning, my parents and my brother decided to drive to the hospital then, as did Jules. They even passed each other on the road, and arrived there at the same time.
It was around midnight, and mom and Jules found me sitting in a bathtub, attempting to – unsuccessfully – soak away some of the pain. After accepting that the bath wasn’t helping, it was back to pacing – this time with great company, complete with comforting back rubs from my dad, and and assurances of “you’re doing great” – until I was taken to the delivery room. Shawn, Mommy, and Jules took shifts in twos at my bedside.
Seven hours after my water broke, there she was – the tiniest, most perfect being I’d ever set my eyes on. I had only just met her, and my heart was hers. In that instant, the last few hours of pain, tears, and screams were forgotten. And all that mattered was that beautiful baby in my arms.
I had loved her from the moment that I found out she existed. I fell in love even more, the first time we confirmed her presence at the gynecologist appointment, and we saw the tiny bean on the screen and heard that strong heartbeat. As my belly grew, so did my love for her. And now, seeing her right in front of me, holding her in my arms, I felt a surge of emotions I’d never experienced before. A love entirely different from anything I’d ever felt.
Motherhood, to me, is the most wonderful adventure you could ever embark on – there’s something to learn almost everyday, its challenging, terrifying some days, exhausting most days, and more than all that it’s BEAUTIFUL, and completely fulfilling. From the second I looked at that little face, something… or maybe, everything inside me changed. I never knew I could protect so fiercely, be so selfless, cry so much at the mere sight of my three year old stepping onto a stage for the first time. Vanity went out the window – actually being in photos with my little person (something she and I would look at, and treasure together years later), became more important than how bad of a hair day I was having, or how chubby my face looked.
The start of it all – labour, delivery, and those first nights alone in hospital – is ten times more terrifying. Having the ones closest to me there to share in the time this life-changing adventure began (and there for me ever since), added to just how special it was, and added a sense of calm. Not everyone has that kind of support – a loving husband by your side while you scream like a banshee, and keep throwing off the sheet he repeatedly covers you with, so as to provide you with some semblance of dignity. A mom and dad, siblings, and friends – willing to drive two hours in the dark of night just to be with you, and remind you that you’re so loved, and that you’re doing a great job. A mom, who due to an unexpected trauma right after your baby is born (if you missed the post, you can read it here), has to hold your heavy self and help you walk to the bathroom, and then bathe you as well. All this support, which to be honest, I hadn’t even realised I would so greatly need.
I am infinitely grateful for this privilege of being a mom. And I will always be thankful for all the care and support I was fortunate enough to receive. I say fortunate because as I mentioned before, there are those who don’t have this support.
It is because of this reality that Cape Town Embrace is asking women around South Africa to spend an hour with new moms at their local public hospitals on 14 May 2017 (update: 13 May 2018), to offer support and encouragement as they set out on this new journey of motherhood. Thinking back to that time almost eight years ago, I can say with certainty that it is definitely needed at this huge time in one’s life, and it IS appreciated. If you’d like to get involved, you can find out more here.