Just under four weeks ago, my husband and I were overjoyed to welcome our first child – little Emma Maria, named after our mothers.
In the lead-up, my main fears revolved around the experience of labour. I hoped for a natural birth, and wanted if possible to avoid the use of any painkillers (as my mum had done for the birth of my eight siblings and I). But what I had to accept was that the whole thing was out of my control, and as much as I had learned in antenatal classes, it remained that labour was still an unknown.
Emma arrived six days before her due date and my husband’s reassurances that everything would be fine were spot on – with him by my side to talk me through every contraction, plus lots and lots of prayers, Emma entered the world naturally and a lot quicker than we expected! Labour was tough, but I can honestly say that it, and any birth experience, is well worth the reward. And it’s true what they say – you do forget the pain quite quickly!
Labour may have been my main concern, but that was just the start of the fun – let’s just say that parenthood is a crash course in selflessness. Of course, selflessness is something we were already learning in marriage, but really, we’re all human and sometimes we choose not to be as giving as we could be with our partners. With a baby, you don’t have a choice – their needs have to be met before yours. Hard work? Yes, very much so. However it’s also a blessing – without even knowing it, we can see that little Emma is giving us the gift of parenthood, which is an opportunity to be the best people we can be, and to discover inner strength that we couldn’t have possibly known we had otherwise! How beautiful is that?!
Speaking of strength, the whole process of pregnancy and labour has me in complete awe of my body. A lot of women these days are so concerned about the physical changes of having a baby, and it’s true, there can be many. But why focus on that when we can focus on how powerful and amazing the body is! I’ve never been particularly athletic or more that averagely fit, but my body facilitated life – this has to be its most incredible function! From the development of the baby to my body knowing how to bring it out into the world, pregnancy and labour is such a miracle. How can anyone possibly believe that something as complex as a new human happens randomly?!
Looking at our baby, there are so many emotions. Complete awe – that she is the result of a moment of love between her parents. Astonishment – that she is a blend of the two of us; an eternal symbol of our love. And also that she is her own person, with qualities and talents and ideas that we’re yet to discover. Wonder – that somehow, without any skill required from me, she has 10 perfect fingers and 10 perfect toes and is just altogether perfect. Gratitude – that we have been lucky enough to be blessed with her, especially when there are a lot of couples that can’t have kids or struggle to do so. Responsibility – because this little soul is ours to guide, even though my husband and I joke that she’ll be the one to bring us up. But mostly – love. Lots and lots and lots of love.