Climate Of Change

Entry by: Briergate

1st December 2015
When I found out I was pregnant with you, I was sitting on the toilet staring at the test stick, and my hands were shaking. I didn't believe you were really there, and yet a bit of me felt convinced too; all at the same time. It was as if you had taken up residence, and we shared a secret. I knew you were there, a small collection of red cells and promises of potential. We sat and waited, together.

The stick flatly informed me in Arial font that I was ...Pregnant 1-2 weeks.

I squeezed a bit more pee out and wiped, and flushed, and washed my hands. I walked downstairs. I had a cigarette outside, and then threw the rest of the pack away. We stood together, you and I. I looked out of the window at the grey drizzle, and wondered who you may become.

Perhaps, for around an hour, we were complicit. I was the only person in the universe who knew you existed. I didn't talk to you - I was too self-conscious, even shy, to speak aloud and imagine you could hear, but I thought at you, and felt that you could absorb my thoughts. I introduced myself, and imagined you nodding, as if saying - I know, I picked you.

I sat down with trembling hands on the sofa and texted your Daddy. I asked him to come home from work, quickly, and told him there was nothing wrong.

He ran. He drove like a maniac through town to get home. When he came in, all outside air and drizzle and panic, I made him sit down and then passed the little stick over to him. He picked it up, and looked, and then looked again. His beautiful face drained of colour. He handed the stick back to me, and looked at me. I grinned.

"Oh, fuck," he said. And that was that.

Don't believe that finding out about a pregnancy is about Hollywood hugs and twirls of happiness. For me, it was the most disappointing day of my life. It was going to be the happiest, but your Daddy was so afraid he couldn't manage his feelings and feign any happiness. He let us down, me and you. He didn't mean to, but he knifed me in the abdomen. You twisted away from the blade and became only mine.

And then he didn't touch me, hold my hand, or even feel you kick for a full nine months. He grew distant and cold, and annoyed. He stood in the doorway watching me, as I teetered on a chair reaching the farthest corners of the kitchen painting the ceiling just before you were born, even though I had been bleeding constantly and should have been on bed rest. He never lifted a finger, never bought anything, never helped. He stood back and watched me decorate your nursery, buy you the very best of everything, prepare and hope and wait.

He called you 'it'. He told me, when I asked him why he was being such a bastard, that 'it' was 'my responsibility' because it was 'in me'.

I cried a lot, when I was pregnant with you. From week sixteen, when I woke up at four in the morning with a gush of blood and ran to the bathroom, and then subsequently got down on my hands and knees to scrub the Psycho trail of blood from the carpet; and then bought a new carpet. I cried when I saw you on the scan the following day, arms nonchalantly behind your head, legs crossed, grinning widely out at me from the little monitor.

I cried when the contractions kept me awake, and I told your Daddy you were heading out, and he rolled over and went back to sleep. I cried when he kept me at home, in labour, until I was half-way dilated. I cried when he sighed at the irritation of me asking him, every night, if we could use the gadget to listen for your gallopy heartbeat. Your heart ran like a herd of stallions across the monitors, declaring your absolute determination to survive.

I cried when your Daddy wouldn't make love to me. I cried when he couldn't hug me, or smile at me, and all because you were inside me.

I don't think I blamed you. I liked you. I liked your feisty refusal to die, even when you had to contend with a whopping blood clot that was depriving you of space, and nutrients and oxygen. I liked the way you got lively and energetic when I was trying to sleep. I liked your sustained refusal to die. I liked your refusal to be more than a week premature, and your refusal to come out, so that I needed a Caesarean. I liked your strange moment of quiet which made me so afraid when you were finally cut out of my stomach, and the benign, gentle way you ate perfectly, slept perfectly, and liked being sung to, and cuddled.

I thought you were ugly as sin (you were, seriously). But, I liked you in a kind of detached, confused, whole-hearted way. The love (unfathomably deep, life-changing and all-consuming) came at some point later. At the beginning, when it was just me, you, and the world, I just grew a full-on respect which developed, and stayed. "Good for you, Blob" I felt like saying. "You fucking hang on in there. You fucking survive".

And, you did. I was so shy with you at first, I'd sit and stare in awe for hours, forgetting to talk to you. You had to remind me, later, that motherhood is more about puddles, silliness and dancing than heartfelt, serious declarations of love and vows to protect. You taught me to rouse my inner child, and let her jump in puddles, too.

We called you 'Florence'. I only found out from a friend of mine, afterwards, it means 'Flourish' in Latin. It suits you, perfectly, Florence.

A year or so later, when you lay on your back and your Daddy was changing your nappy, and you looked up at him and beamed, he began to understand you. And, he fell in love. He realised he could have more than one girl in his heart, and he stretched and opened and allowed you in.

When I used to be angry with you, or disappointed, you'd run in to another room and seek out my boots, putting them on and waddling back in because you knew you would laugh me out of my temper. You learned that a well-timed kiss would dispel annoyance. You got away with murder, because of your natural awareness of just how bright, funny and loving you could be.

You are four, now. You bemuse me, enthral me, challenge me and still make me cry. The other day, you pointed at the smile-shaped scar on my abdomen, and asked me how it got there. I grinned at you, reminded you that it was from when you were growing in my stomach, and you nodded solemnly.

"I know. I remember. It was all red, and there was music. I choosed you." You mentioned it with such confidence, I believe you. I believe you picked me to grow in, changed my name to 'Mummy' and popped out in to my world, because you were always meant to be my daughter. You are a clone of me, and because I adore you, I love myself now for the first time.

Because, how could I not love this face, when it belongs to you? How could I not appreciate these eyes, this smile, when the person whom I love more than any other shows me those features each day?

Bit by bit, you've healed me. You've altered my past to make me see it with more benevolent eyes. You've altered my perception of my self, because you love who I am. You've made me quieter, happier, more gentle. I know that was never your job, but it happened alongside all the other miraculous moments of motherhood. These days, I never ask myself - Who am I? - because you answered that eternal question from the moment I held you in my arms.

Three years after you were born, your Daddy said he would like to try for another child. We made love, for the first time since you were conceived, and your sister came along eight months later. Perhaps you healed your Daddy, too, because he was different this time. He was open, and loving, and kind.

You're managing the transition, with a healthy dose of jealousy, bossiness, and affection. When you tell me that 'It's all about you', we have to remind you that I'm just one Mummy, but I have two arms, and even though you vie to be the person who monopolises those arms, every day, I have one for each of you. I still crave your smell, the warm sweet essence of you that I find when you are sleeping; the bit between your cheek, neck and ear, where my nose fits. I inhale like an addict.

You learned to whistle, last week. You've started to read, and write. I let you go each morning and you run in to your class and sometimes forget to say goodbye, and our invisible cord, this umbilical tie, stretches and flexes in preparation for the moment when you are fully-fledged and ready to walk away.

I don't dread that moment. I will cherish it, just as I cherish this time we have together, now. I know I'm only borrowing you.

Florence, you flourish. When you came, you changed everything. Even the world looked different, the air tasted sweeter. Like the time when you tried on sunglasses, and exclaimed - "The world looks like Cola!" and I understood exactly what you meant. Everything is skewed by your own take on the universe. And I feel blessed.

Thank you for choosing me. I'll try not to let you down.
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