Sunday, August 2, 2009

On Becoming a Mother

"Making the decision to have a child – it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body”

I have been thrust, wide eyed and blinking, into another dimension. In a way I have been preparing for this all my life – I had a somewhat serial animal rearing problem as a child. Up every two hours in the ticking dead of night feeding whatever poor doomed bald creature had fallen into my path. From rats to squirrels, warthogs to porcupines, elephants to puku, pratincoles to civets, I’ve had them all. So I am well prepared for motherhood in that I’m fine with the night feeds – really, what’s the big deal in the whole scheme of things. I’m familiar with the burning possessiveness (hey, don’t touch my baby), the high alert, the tuned ear.

On the one hand I am cautious about being a new mother bore, but on the other I want to stand atop the Hilbrow Tower and shout “I have a baby! The best most adorable perfect creature in the universe – you just try and tell me any different! Come here and say that!” I want to find an echo-ey enclave that will reverberate my message to every hidden cave and snow-jacketed mountain there is. So I shall do the next best thing – I shall blog. New mother bore be damned!

Already 4 weeks have whizzed by and I feel that I am standing on the deck, cold wind in my face, clutching at the railings, watching in bewilderment as Time whips by. And I am loving. Every. Minute.

So although I say I’ve reared animals and therefore I’m well prepared, obviously there is no comparison! The familiar feeling is there but there is absolutely nothing like it. See, I contradict myself…but I can. Because I am a mother. Because I say so. Haha! Hey, its fun!

The staring
I sneak a quick look at her and suddenly I realise that four hours have passed. The song "can't take my eyes off of you" playing a loop in my head.

The sense of humour failure
The baby is about a week old. I am still sore and tender new to all this.
I want to bite all visitors on the cheek with my newfound fangs when they come near. "Hey! Back off! That’s my baby! Seriously. BACK OFF!" The first week or two even my poor husband needs visiting rights to smell her milk-and-honey-head. He can’t even enjoy a celebratory glass of wine. “are you drunk? No, you can’t pick up the baby, you’ve had a glass of wine.“ And I burst into tears. "Is that Deep Heat I smell?" Oh dear, I have created a monster. My mother and sister are visiting and I am hiding in the room staring at the new baby. I have left the husband to entertain them. I come stalking into the room where they’re eating pizza and drinking wine. “Are you all getting pissed?” I am offered a glass of wine. “NO! I can’t drink wine. I’m breastfeeding. I have a baby to look after” I scowl and thunder back to the room. This is very un-Miranda behaviour. They’re all too scared to bring me pizza and have to goad each other and draw straws to see who will be the one brave enough.

People making passing comments about zipping the baby up in her body bag, the last tomato in the fridge etc Its not funny. Not at all.

The animal in me
I fully understand how lions and elephants will attack if you get between them and their young. I would kill for this baby without a second thought. My claws are out and I’m ready for battle. I am sure I have a heightened sense of smell and hearing too but that’s probably just my imagination. I certainly have a heightened sense of imagination. Every corner, step, person and inanimate object is a hidden danger, waiting to harm my baby.

The bursting heart
There is, at every waking and sleeping moment, a dull ache of tenderness and pride in my sternum. Whether I’m washing the dishes, picking flowers or drinking juice – it’s always there. We have done something incredible. We have made something unique. I will never ever love anything as I love this small 55cm, 4 and a half kilogram, milk-and-honey smelling creature.


SafariB said...

Oh my word. I am overwhelmed.

Hugely Jealous. Number one. And feel so so privileged to have you share this with ms (us). Number two. And beaming big huge smiles with you. Number three.

Yay!! yay yay yay Miranda.. Soo happy for you girl :) :) :) :) :)

Reya Mellicker said...

This is beautiful. When I saw the pics of you, hugely pregnant, I thought of that post you wrote about the lineage of pets. Did you ever tell the story about the baby elephant? I hope I didn't miss that.

OK. I've seen the pics and I agree she is the most beautiful girl on earth, no question about that.

Shout it from the mountain tops, Miranda. Bravo!!

Janelle said...

"..I will never ever love anything as I love this small 55cm, 4 and a half kilogram, milk-and-honey smelling creature..."
yeah you will. the next one...! X

macjanet said...

The heightened sense of smell and hearing is not your imagination. I had it too. I could hear and smell across suburbs. On constant alert. I was a vast radar, deeply connected to everything, most particularly my baby. A very fierce-tender time.
This post made me all weepy with memories.

Mud in the City said...

And how lucky she is to have you as her mother.

karen said...

What a lovely post. Enjoy your lovely baby, and I see Janelle has said exactly what came into my mind while reading your words!

Tessa said...

Just perfectly perfect. Made me smile and nod in recognition.

Lori ann said...

oh dear, that is really beautiful. you have got it exactly right, i have a lump in my throat, in fact i think it's been there since the birth of my first baby. it never goes away, this feeling you have.

i'm just so happy for you miranda, to be a mother and love like this there really is nothing else like it. i think that's why it's so hard when they grow up and move away, my kids are all over the place now, the last two leaving in 6 days and 5 weeks, my heart is all over the place!!

no such thing as a new mother bore.

Shiny said...

Aaah, wow xx

Jeannie said...

Ah, it's all so true. And it just grows and grows and grows, as they do. Janelle is right too - the next one doesn't take any love away from the first, but suddenly your heart has twice as much room, and you have just as much love again. It's a miraculous, marvelous, awesome, wonderful thing!

Angela said...

I`m so glad it caught you, this mother bug. It`s the best bug in the world, it ties you forever to your baby. She will be so happy to have found you! When are you taking new pictures?

Dumdad said...

I've been away these past two weeks so haven't blogged or commented.

So, a belated CONGRATULATIONS on the birth of your baby daughter!!!!!

Fantastic. And every stage in her life as she grows up is better than the last one. Really. Just when you think it can't get better it does.

Am I being dim or have I missed out on what her name is? Or is it a secret?

family affairs said...

Beautifully written - I so remember those feelings - enjoy, because when you have the next one you won't have the luxury of time to the same degree - just such lovely time to smell and stare and wonder....

Just back from your wonderful home. Saw your theatre group performance and knew it must be your's - I'd seen the elephant picture on your blog before. Sadly didn't get a chance to meet your mum - got whisked into the bush too quickly. Have just finished reading your dad's book too so know what a Class A rearer of animals you must be. Lx

Elise said...

Hello, just wanted to leave a comment to say how much I've enjoyed reading some of your posts. Your pictures are amazing and your blog is really cool. Thank you for sharing them !