36 hours of labour had passed and finally at 7.58pm on November 15, 2017, it was over.
My daughter, Natalie, came into the world. Suddenly, life took on a whole new meaning. It was no longer just about me, or my husband Rafi; we both became parents in an instant and the responsibility that accompanies that hit us hard. Natalie was thrust into my arms and two little eyes stared into mine, expecting something neither of us really knew what.
It’s funny; thinking back, I remember lying in hospital with her in, what can only be described as, a fish tank. This plastic box held my tiny person, yet no one told me what to do with her! She was born, we got moved to a ward, and that was it. I was left to my own devices as to how to change her, feed her, hold her; do anything for her. When she cried, no one came over to help – it was me (or Google) who was supposed to figure out what was wrong.
It’s extremely overwhelming.
I’m not going to lie. For the first few months, it was endless calls to the doctor (the consequence of having a winter baby), life in pyjamas, meals that go ‘ding’ and trying to figure out whether it was possible for me to sleep whilst showering as it was difficult to choose which I needed more. But eventually, juggling everything became easier.
Instinct kicked in and I understood what she wanted. Her crying differed depending on what it meant. Don’t get me wrong, no one else heard it and Rafi couldn’t really tell the difference either. It was clearly one of those things that only mothers had.
Then I realised – I was a mother. I was the person this little girl looked to when she wanted to share her happiness or be comforted through her sadness. Anything she ever wanted, she’d expect it from me. If I walked into a room, her face lit up. She could be surrounded by 100 people, but it wouldn’t matter – I’d always be her focus.
It’s an amazing feeling knowing that there’s someone in the world that loves you, no matter what. They’re a part of you. For the beginning of their life, you shared a body and nothing could replace that.
Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly difficult times when it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. The endless nights of screaming definitely happened. For the first two weeks of her life, she had day and night mixed up so it was the two of us and Friends for a while.
But no matter how long she’d spend screaming in my face, eventually she’d stop, her eyes would look into mine and I’d get a smile. That split second made it all worth it. It’s as if she was giving me feedback that yes, you’re doing a good job but this crying thing is just part of what I do – it’s me.
Nothing could have prepared me for it. No amount of classes, discussions, advice groups or blogs I read had me ready. I also very quickly learnt that every mother’s learning curve is different. No two children are the same and therefore what I went through cannot be compared to anyone else.
It’s now nine months since she entered our lives and I’m still learning every day. But the beauty of it all is so is she. Every day is a challenge, but it’s a privilege to be able to take it on. I don’t for a second take for granted the miracle I’ve been given and I know how incredibly blessed both Rafi and myself are to have Natalie in our lives.
For the first time, she said ‘Mama’ this week and now I know for sure, I never want her to stop calling my name.