Maternity Ward, East Melbourne; April 2003
So here we are, just the two of us. You rest and writhe alternately. You stare with that myopic expression – I have no idea what you can see, perceive, feel. It’s the first time we have been alone together.
My body is exhausted, my mind is a swamp of primal responses, but I am still high on opiate-like endorphins. And so very present.
The midwives are attending to other new mums or about-to-be mums. Paul’s putting our stuff in the car to go home. I am a bit nervous that it’s now just the two of us, but that says more about me than you.
I knew we had to sway slowly together. I started to hum a beloved tune which just came to life in my mind (as songs always had since as early as I can remember). It seemed the right one, low and soothing….
We were born before the wind
Also younger than the sun
Ere the bonnie boat was won
As we sailed into the mystic
I have never been a ‘baby person’ – those women who rush over to see the new baby of a work colleague when they come to visit. Wanting to hold the baby, smell the baby, do that weird high pitched baby talk. Give me a dog over a baby any day, I always thought.
As I said to a friend not so many years earlier when we spoke of people’s need to have children, “I just don’t get it.” And I didn’t, until I did. At which point there was nothing to get – nothing to agonise over, weigh up, convince myself of.
Suddenly what seemed like something other women did – as far removed from me as the thought of parachuting out of a plane – just kind of took residence in the deepest place inside me. I became an adventurer who was ready to take that unknown, but much-travelled track. I trusted in my body to do what it innately knew to do. I had faith in something.
Now here we are – you and I. I cannot really articulate the shift that took place to get me from that cynical person of just a few years ago to this raw-nerve, all-feeling, highly-tuned-in mess of hormones and emotions. One thing has simply replaced the other, an evolution.
You start to whimper restlessly, starting to cry – do you want to be fed? Are you scared? Do I need to change your nappy? I ticked off all those things, realising that there was no simple fix for this.
You are new – freshly baked. You are unsure. This world must seem so strange. The feel of clothes, of blankets, of someone else’s skin touching you. It all must be light years away from floating in a warm sea, suspended in your own protective bag.
You looked at me, sort of, with those dark, dark eyes – almost black. Just like an animal – all raw nerves and instinct.
We will just trust in each other, that’s all there is right now.
The midwives are attending to other new mums or about-to-be mums. Paul’s putting our stuff in the car to go home.
There was just you and I and this song….
And I wanna rock your gypsy soul
Just like way back in the days of old
And together we will float
Into the mystic
Come on girl
Too late to stop now
© Chris Phillips.