One for my baby

Posted Monday 29th September 2014   By Ericka Waller

My youngest daughter is three on Wednesday. It does not seem possible. It does not seem fair. Hundreds of pounds and hours went into preparing me for my wedding day, but I’ve never felt more beautiful than the night I delivered her, covered in blood and sweat. The ex-husband looked at me in awe as I birthed her in blue moonlight, pain-relief free. I breathed her out, sung her out, roared her out.

Now, three lightening-fast years on, I am preparing for her first proper birthday party. She is Dalmatian mad. Our poor white Labrador has no idea what’s coming for him on Tuesday night.

My girl is excited, I am broken-hearted. I do not want her to be Three. I want to shrink us back in time, to do that pregnancy test again. I want to go to her first scan again, watch a piece of my heart beat on the screen.

But life is not like that. Shit happens, and time marches on while you pause to scrape the crap off your shoes.

I used to think my old life was hard.

Now  I know what hard really is. It’s never quite having enough, being enough, or feeling you have done enough. Hard is when there is no one to say “I’ve had enough, it’s too hard” to.

I tried running after my old life. It was like trying to catch the wind.

Now I sit, single and sleep-deprived in the moonlight watching my little girl. Shadows of baby expressions dance across her face in her sleep, and I whisper a sorry for every second I picked up the hoover instead of her.

All those times I put her down while she slept, to gather up something else. Something inane, a toy that would find its way back on the floor seconds later anyway. A cup for the dishwasher. I regret every banal conversation spoken over her sleeping head, every second I did not spend looking at her face as she grew.

But I did not know about the hard that was coming for me. I thought hard was for other people in other lives, not me and the people in mine.

I wish I could remember the last time I breastfed my baby, or carried her in a sling on my chest, but I don’t.

I will remember every milestone from here on though. This is the promise I whisper to her.

“The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
For children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep”

Song for a Fifth Child – by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton)

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