And so the first month of his life has been and gone, just like that. In the blink of an eye, he has emerged into the world and become a tiny, definitive person, with likes and dislikes and a personality and presence all of his own. As with the others, I can’t really remember a time when he wasn’t here, or a life in which he didn’t exist.
It’s been a month of…..
Getting to know him: the way he likes to sleep, curled into my side, his face turned trustingly into mine. The evenings that he’s spent wide awake and wide eyed, overwhelmed by his brand new world. The times he’s stopped crying, instantly, when I’ve picked him up, his soft head nestled beneath my chin. The moments when I’ve put him down and he’s turned towards the sound of his sister’s or brother’s voice, murmuring his baby sounds, watching them with what feels like wonder. The way that during the day, he likes to sleep on me, his little heart beating against mine. I sit watching him sleep, his cheek resting against my chest, and wonder how it is that a month ago he wasn’t here, and yet now he is everything.
Siblings. My pride in their love of him has battled with an innate protectiveness and abject fear. They have little understanding of how they could hurt him and some days all I’ve seemed to say is ‘don’t do that!’ Some nights I’ve gone to bed and cried because I’ve felt like a terrible mother, torn continually between my love of the older two and a fierce, overwhelming need to be with him. Even when I’ve known they have their dad, that they’ve had fun and love and attention, there have been days when I haven’t been able to shake the paralysing guilt. Some days I’ve shouted and they haven’t had enough of me and when, after finally getting him to sleep, I’ve put him down and gone into their rooms and found them sound asleep too, their little innocent faces turned towards the door, waiting for a mummy who didn’t come. And some days we’ve gone out as a family and I’ve watched them walk with pride beside him and stroke his head and run to fetch everything we might need and my heart has swelled with their joy in him.
Fear. Giving birth makes you raw, vulnerable, helpless. Some days I’ve felt flayed just from having him alive in a world that could so easily hurt him. I’ve seen the worst of images flicker in my mind, seen his pushchair disappear beneath the wheels of a passing car, dreamed that he’d slid from my hands into the bath, imagined him unmoving in his cot. I’ve taken his temperature a hundred times. Ive watched his chest rise and fall. I’ve woken in the night and counted his breaths. This, the greatest of loves, is accompanied by the sharpest and darkest of fears.
Mostly, though, it’s been a month of love. Just like the others, I couldn’t imagine how I would feel until he was here, this little creature with the soft hair and the tiny wrinkled hands and the round cheeks. I couldn’t remember how he would so quickly become everything,that the three of them would make up a world that I feel fortunate to inhabit every single day.
And it’s been a month of the purest of joy. When he gazed up at me this morning, his eyes seeming to fix on mine, his arms thrown above his head and his mouth stretched in a hesitant, wondrous smile, I wanted time to stop, just for a minute so I could have it for always: frozen on that moment, that joy, that love.