I look back on that first night and the memory is a haze. I couldn’t think. I could barely move. Your Dad was on a roll-out bed on the floor next to me. You were in one of those hospital plastic cots beside him. I was dead tired. Drained. Exhausted. In pain. You were crying. Not the kind that tore the walls down. But the kind that I now know meant you were scared, alone, wanting me. But I just called out to you, annoyed, and hushed you to sleep. I was desperate to sleep. I won’t forget it. I churn inside over it. I try to regret nothing, but that first night tears me up inside. That was my first night as your mother.
That first week, your father was nothing short of amazing. He changed you. Cuddled you. Comforted you. Fed you. Adored you. The look in his eyes changed the instant you were born. A strong, confident, overzealous man melted into his little boy. Nothing has changed since. He shed his old self when he walked out of that delivery suite holding you. I couldn’t stop thinking about me. Just like being on a roller coaster, I felt sick. Sick from the medication. Sick from the lack of sleep. Sick just watching you that whole week in the humid crib, with your little sunglasses on under the UV lights.
I spent nine months preparing for you, a lifetime waiting for you. Now all I wanted was to sleep. The delirium was overwhelming. I cried over nothing. I cried over everything. Hearing you cry, as they took blood from your tiny heel, tore me up inside. I wanted to die. How could all this be happening? I lost everything that I was. This was not how it was supposed to be.
I remember that first night. I wish I had picked you up, nestled you close and had you sleep right next to me. I did with your brother. I refused to put him in one of those hospital plastic cots. Despite the glares from the midwives, he slept with me. Nestled close, so I could hear him breathe and feel just how warm he was. I refused to shun him to sleep. Instead I stayed up and watched him.
“Mum, you hug me too much,” is what you say to me now. Each time I do, I let go of the pain from that first night. A little bit more with each suffocating hug.
That first night I was not ready to let go. I didn’t know I had to. It took me a long time to learn. I’m still learning. I stopped reading the books. I stopped listening to the advice. I started to listen to me. I am letting go. Slowly.