I’ve been writing notes on my phone for years now. They read like a strange sort of diary, interspersed with to-do lists and shopping lists and passwords (hopefully cunningly disguised amongst the other junk). Today, I found the one below. I remember writing it: I was sitting alone a on bench, overlooking a beautiful sunset. I was crying. At home, my husband was playing computer games and shaking while the little man screamed. Controlled crying: the worst and best parenting decision we made in that first year.
Reading this again made me sob for my former self, for that confused, lonely girl, too cold to be out but too scared to go home. It’s no secret that I’ve been having a tough few months, but reading this also made me feel grateful. Work’s a bit shitty; me and the little man are emerging from a dark time; but being a mother feels pretty amazing. I have four days in a row with the little man every week, and on those four days I’m absolutely smashing it.
I have no skin. My nerve endings are on fire, and every last tiny one of them is exposed and pawed at and used.
I want not to be touched. I want some space and time, for cooling air to wrap itself around me and smooth these raw endings.
I want nothing but to touch, to stroke his hair and skin, to marvel in this warm, floppy, light and yet heavy weight breathing on my chest.
Anxiety has replaced my blood, it pumps through my veins like adrenalin; I watch for tiny chest movements, I panic at every splutter.
I did not know it was possible to exist on so little sleep. I did not know it was possible to feel this much love.
In the darkest hours I yearn for the time before my family description defined me; it is still recent enough that I can remember the taste of that utter freedom. In those hours I simultaneously pray for this never to be taken away from me. This way of existing is so new, and yet I would already be hollow without it.
I am an all powerful giver of life. It took two to create; but I alone have grown, carried, protected and nourished this life. It was torn from me and me alone. My body is amazing. My body is strong.
My body is not my own. It is battered and bruised. It does not support the weight of my stretched and distorted bones, the weight of my worries and my expectations. For nine months I did not recognise myself in the mirror. I do not recognise myself still.
I am giver of life. I am still all this new being needs to survive. I hold him and create food. Every ounce of growth, every inch, is mine. My breasts have purpose. They are beautiful.
My breasts are chains, shackling me to this chair, to this pump, to this crying and always awake glorious lump of life. I must not break them, but in the early hours of the morning they are so heavy I think they are drowning me.
My sister turned to me years ago and told me I shouldn’t have children. That we had a lovely little life without them. How could she not have told me that my life would get so small?