Letter to my Firstborn – our story of birth, life and beyond
I remember the first time I saw you…
Standing next to a NICU bed, looking down at your tiny little body… I felt in that moment, that I was such a minute part of the incredible, magnificently infinite perfection of the Universe.
You came from pure love. Things were not perfect, far from it, but the Plan for you and I was laid out long before. If I’m being honest, things weren’t perfect even on the day I walked down the isle four years before that and I knew it, but chose to have faith.
Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing because every step I took, led me to where I am.
I was 13 weeks pregnant when I started having terrible pain all around my hips and down my legs. Within a week it became unbearable and the doctor sent me for an MRI. We were admitted directly from the MRI to the maternity ward as they discovered that I had a couple of slipped discs in my lower back.
We spent a good week in the hospital, in “light” traction and on whatever medication they could give to help the pain. During that time I got to focus intently on this little ball that would push up against the traction belt and I was privileged to hear your heartbeat every day when most mommies at this stage would hardly notice the little flutters in their bellies.
The doctor advised that it would become more difficult and that bed rest would probably be the best option. I had to resign from my job eventually as I was in debilitating pain that was only going to worsen with the growing pressure on my body.
Over the next few months there was a lot of reading, music, loneliness and that never ending big giant pain. I mostly shuffled to the bathroom and back to bed. Whilst there were some days when I could be up and about a little, I would suffer that activity for weeks afterwards. I was fortunate though, to notice nearly all the movements you made and truly appreciate the time that you spent growing inside my body.
You were constantly moving! Even when you were asleep, a hand or a foot would be moving and watching you sleep as a little person I could recognise the same movements.
It’s going to be okay
I remember the day when the marriage came crashing down. As if it was yesterday. We were 6 months along and it was December. The pain and the heat were excruciating and relentless.
As the events unfolded in the middle of the night I instinctively placed my arms around my belly as if to shield you. Then there was a calm that came to me. A sense of peace. No matter what happened, we would be okay. We were together. You were my strength and I was your protector.
Many things transpired over the next couple of months but there was really only one important thing. I remember shuffling along the passages to the doctor’s rooms for checkups in tears, hoping to manage a few more weeks to keep you safe. Stubbornly refused to sit in a wheelchair, but anyway…
Eventually the C-section was scheduled for 36 weeks. It was becoming risky for both of us to keep you on the inside they said… but we know that the outside was a different story altogether.
On the morning of the 6th of March 2009, you must have known that the day had come because it felt like you were trying to climb in under my ribs. We arrived at the hospital and went through the motions, got prepared. Your grandparents were all there, waiting excitedly as they pushed us to the operating room.
I knew that there was no way I could have a natural birth but what I didn’t know was that I couldn’t have a spinal block at that time either. It was only once inside the theatre that the Gynaecologist told me that I would actually be knocked out completely and miss the whole birth! I remember being extremely nervous. I told you it was all going to be okay and I would see you in a little while. There’s a video of your dad filming himself in the theatre mirror, lol! Oi… anyway…
I remember waking up in the recovery room feeling this awful emptiness… the only person there was the nurse telling me to rest and that everything was okay. The little wiggle in my tummy was no longer there and the feeling of absence was overwhelming. So much confusion… funnily enough I remember everything, even many years later.
They rolled the bed back to the room. You had gone to NICU and I couldn’t get up, I couldn’t see you…
Other new mommies in my room either had their baby with them or had a spinal block and were all chatty. I was in pain, I was groggy from anaesthetic and I couldn’t see my baby. Your dad was up and down between NICU and my room. He only showed me the first photo of you once there weren’t so many wires and tubes hooked up. I felt like I should have been able to be with you through that. I didn’t see your first breath. I missed your first day and your first battle.
You were a superstar even then and by the evening of your first day, they had taken off the oxygen.
The second the nurse walked in the next morning I told her to pull out and take off whatever needed to be taken off me, I wanted to get up and go!
Then there I was, tiny little speck in an infinite universe, looking at this little miracle that came from my body… Wow…
11 Days in NICU and finally we got to take you home! Up to that point the nurses had done pretty much everything except feed and I felt a small panic at being fully responsible for this little person now. It was certainly an adventure but you were always the best sleeper, sleeping through at 10 weeks old already and never looked back.
Wheels of change in motion
You were four months old when I packed a suitcase for you and I and we came to Joburg to visit a friend. From that moment on, the same big Universe was set in motion to create a life I had never imagined and things started to fall into place one by one.
My friend said to me at the time, “Just come and stay whether it’s for a week or a month or a year, doesn’t matter.”, nobody knew. I hadn’t been working, in fact I didn’t even have my own bank account but hey, eight months later we moved into our own little place.
It was an interesting time. I grew, I learned, I watched things happen almost as if it was a movie… and you grew and learned and you were this amazing light in my life. We were going to be okay.
We built our new home on rock
Throughout every moment of this new life, we had such incredible support from friends and family. People who were there for us, come what may, new people who came into our lives and have added to our adventure in the best ways. We have been blessed with love beyond measure and my heart runs over with gratitude every day.
You weren’t even walking yet when we met SuperDad and Caroline and for the two of you it was love at first sight! For us grownups it took a while longer and it was three years later when we took the big step to moving into one home together.
At four years young when your little world was shaken to its core again. Blake was born and you had a new sibling in your home, which is hard enough to deal with for most children. Two months to the day after that, your grandfather passed away after years of suffering. The two of you were like soulmates, as close as I had ever seen and for the last four years of his life, you were the light in his life too.
Living through that grief, that heart shattering period with you was possibly the most intense emotional experience I have ever had. Having lost my grandfather at six years old, I knew that you would need as much love and support as you could get but I couldn’t even begin to imagine that a four year old child had the capacity to grieve a person’s loss so intensely. To this day he’s often on your mind and always in your heart. We talk about it and we think it through and it is okay.
Nine years later we are much, much more than just okay.
You are the most beautiful soul. An endless well of energy, a constantly enquiring mind always looking to understand more, a gentle and kind spirit with a laugh that comes straight from the core of your being. You’re sensitive, without taking life too seriously. Intelligent, with a sharp sense of humour.
The best, most patient and understanding big brother.
Practically born with a ball in hand, you could easily keep yourself occupied all day with a ball and a patch of grass. Outside as much as possible whether hiking, animal spotting, playing, running, swimming or just lying on the grass making up cloud shapes. Your favourite place on earth is the beach and my favourite place on earth is watching you play and laugh in the waves.
Music lover, day dreamer, loser of things and capturer of hearts… you never give up and you shine so brightly. Whatever comes, we’ll never give up and it will always be okay.
Thank you for choosing me, for teaching me, for being my light. I love you.
For Wade, 9 years young on 06 March 2018.