You wake up one morning in your early thirties, after years of anticipation wondering when this day would arrive, and you have a warm glowing sensation inside. You feel exultant but terrified. This is the moment that you realise that both body and mind are completely ready to begin a whole new journey.
You buy the books on how to get pregnant, drastically change your diet, drink lots of water, walk up a mountain every day, and have lots of sex. And all the while you are slightly preoccupied with thoughts of whether or not conception has occurred. Then you get your period, and feel a tiny bit gutted.
The following month your period doesn’t come and you try really really hard not to get your hopes up. Thoughts about whether or not you are pregnant completely consume you, and you constantly feel like you have butterflies in your tummy. Then you pluck up the courage to confirm the pregnancy either way.
The doctor tells you that you are indeed pregnant. You are pregnant! This is without doubt the best and most surreal day of your life so far. You cry tears of joy for several days afterwards, and cannot quite believe it to be true. After the initial euphoria you feel scared. What if something goes wrong. What if you miscarry or the pregnancy turns out to be ectopic. Or the doctor is wrong. At the same time you are desperate to tell the world your news. It feels like you are harbouring the biggest secret ever.
As the weeks go by you watch in wonder as your baby bump gets bigger and bigger. You attend each antenatal check with anticipation, and the first time you hear your baby’s rapid little heart beat you are overcome with emotion – it is mind-blowing. You spend the duration of your pregnancy with a protective hand across your tummy, you try to imagine what your baby will look like, you talk and sing to her, and you feel huge excitement every time you get a little kick or a prod. You eagerly await her arrival, whilst eating nothing but crisp and dairylea sandwiches. You cannot wait to meet her.
You give birth to your baby and look at her for the first time, in total awe. You laugh and sob, and your heart is pumping so hard you think it’s going to explode. Your baby is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen. She immediately looks for the breast and lies across you, skin to skin, for several hours. The bond between mother and baby is instant.
For the next few weeks you and your baby are inseparable. You spend your time feeding her and sleeping together with her curled up on your chest looking safe and as content as can be. It pains you to hand her over to well-meaning friends and relatives because you don’t want to be apart from her for more than a second.
The months go by and you and your baby get to know each other inside out. You know when she is hungry, tired, uncomfortable, annoyed, or in need of a change of scenery. You know every little mark and crease on her body. She knows your voice and your smell and rarely takes her eyes off you. She squeals with delight and gives you a big beaming smile every time you appear into view, and she gently paws you with her little fingers as she feeds. You and your baby share private and special moments whilst the rest of the world sleeps.
You spend every waking moment with her and so you see her first smile, first chuckle, first wave, first clap and first steps, her first everything. You sit up with her in the middle of the night cradling her because she is cutting a tooth, or because she has a cold. You are fiercely protective of her, and you feel hurt by the odd person who is insensitive and disrespectful of your role as her mother. You feed her, bath her, play with her, change her nappies and read and sing to her, and make important decisions for her. But most importantly you love her, more than anything else in the world. A pure, unconditional love between mother and child.
And then one day you realise that you love your baby more than she could ever love you, more than anyone could ever possibly love anyone, until, that is, she wakes up ready to begin a whole new journey of her own.