My granddaughter turns ten this week and I reflect on the first time I laid my eyes on her, such perfection, so much love.
I was in the room when my daughter gave birth to my granddaughter Matilda. It’s not a pleasant experience for a parent to watch your child go through labour even though it’s the natural occurrence of life. There’s nothing natural about giving birth, it’s painful, messy and fucking stressful even though there’s a reward at the end. I was so stressed witnessing this event knowing that any minute something could go wrong. After I cut the cord and my daughter got a little cuddle of her daughter, the nurse took Matilda to the side to clean her up and get her breathing on her own. Matilda didn’t start crying soon as she was born but she made noises so I wasn’t worried.
After a little while I couldn’t resist the urge to check out Matilda’s toes to see if they were webbed just like mine, her mothers and her Uncles, and they are. The nurses were still fussing around Matilda but they let me check her toes. I noticed the nurses were a little bothered and I noted Matilda still hadn’t had a big cry. She was whimpering as if trying to cry but I didn’t think anything of it until the Nurse told us she needed to take Matilda to a high care unit for a short time. She also assured us everything was OK. She explained that Matilda was born so quickly she was a little distressed so she need some specialist care to clear out her lungs and get her breathing normally.
Matilda disappeared with the nurse and I was left in the labour room with my daughter and her husband. The birth was so quick it also left my daughter in some terrible pain that continued after the birth and that wasn’t normal so she was being attended to by the Dr and her husband.
There was nothing I could do for my daughter, she was in good hands. My thoughts were with Matilda, I should be there with her. She was ten minutes into this world and not with her family. She needed me!
I asked the nurse if I could be with my granddaughter and she showed me the way to the high care unit. As I entered the unit alone, I noted how big the room was and how empty except for a tiny baby crib at the far end of the room. As I approached my granddaughter’s crib the nurse assured me she was OK and not be alarmed by the wires connected to her. It was routine and she was just fine and needed a little time and some extra oxygen to get over her quick entrance into the world.
It wasn’t the wires that alarmed me but the overwhelming mixed feelings that swept over me. My granddaughter was just born and was left alone in her crib at the end of a big room. To be fair the nurses had just finished wiring her up for oxygen and other things to monitor other vital organs, whatever they were. I leaned down and kissed her on her head and caressed her cheeks softly with the back of my fingers.
I’m here now my baby, you’re not alone!
As I stared down at this perfect angel, the love that swept over me took my breath and I swear my heart’s temperature rose a few degrees. I will not leave this darling girl. I will not leave her alone for a second. In that room and in that moment, I was all she had and I didn’t want her to be or feel alone.
As I sat silently next to her as she slept it dawned on me that Matilda and I had very different beginnings. Although I was taken to a ward very soon, if not immediately after birth, I had not one family member there to have the same feelings that swept over me. No doubt I would have been alone in a ward for weeks possibly more. No one to caress my cheek with a loving hand and no one to stare down at me with overwhelming love and joy. The only touch would have come from the nurses who fed and changed me. My heart ached for that baby (me). I’d not wish this beginning on anyone let alone my granddaughter. I can’t help but wonder…..
Was my lonely beginning in life the reason I’ve been alone in my heart since the day I was born?