They say you become a mother at birth. But that’s not what I saw.
My sweetheart wept over a small, plastic test as I held her tightly in my arms.
I kissed her strawberry-scented auburn hair and told her it would all be OK.
She’d wanted this for as long as I could remember. We both had, in fact.
We’d talked about it years ago. We’d slept on it many times. Discussed it over multiple dinners in the kind of high-priced restaurants two young, successful people could afford.
Yet, as she clutched the confirmation within her small, delicate hand, in a grip that revealed the strength of her emotion, it all became… real.
As she leaned heavily into me, giving her weight to my arms and her tears poured over the bay of my shoulder, it all became suddenly, sharply and instantly … real.
I didn’t cry. I don’t like to cry – I guess it’s just how I was raised. I was the man, the rock and the support for my love. My woman. The mother of my new, delicate, unborn child.
Then slowly, gradually, everything changed.
I watched my love become horridly ill. I watched her struggle each morning to dress into her tight corporate suit. I saw her rest on the bed, the couch and the kitchen bench. She forced herself through the draining first weeks – to put on a company smile and continue to work in the career that had made her so happy.
She replaced her wine with water and, out of respect, I did the same. I witnessed her cutting out dangerous foods and, out of love, I left them out too. I saw her taking vitamins, iron and folate – and noticed her efforts in protecting our baby with every informational source she could find. What a woman I had found for our baby.
I watched her grow and change over time.
Her luscious curves broadened in maternal beauty. Her shape morphed into that of a stunning, iconic, womanly figure; complete with an awe-inspiring, magnificent bump that revealed my baby to me.
Our weekends – once spent in bars, on boats, upon balconies and within lavish restaurants – slowly evolved to painting, decorating and debating the quality versus cost of the latest dark oak cot. Our lifestyle was changing with every new day.
On the day of the scan I pondered my child. Was there really a small being snuggled up, cozy, within my wife’s insides? As we sat nervously within the waiting room, her hand tentatively clutched within mine, I realised the absurdity of it all. A person who belonged to me within a person to whom I belonged. A real-life Babushka doll containing our pending future.
At first the screen of blotted black and blue revealed nothing to me but figureless shapes. They morphed and danced with each tiny movement that the small, gelled instrument made. For a moment I filled with fear and doubt – was everything still OK?
Then suddenly, clearly, there she was. Our daughter raised her hand to her mouth, in the 2D screen on the left of my love, and began to suckle her thumb.
I gazed at this moment in disbelief, then watched tears stream down my lover’s face.
I didn’t cry. I don’t like to cry. It’s not something that makes me feel strong.
I watched her bulge and stretch in the end. I witnessed her stifling efforts to keep fit and strong and marveled in her commitment to continue through it all. As it all became close, we readied our minds as best as we could.
Today, I saw her waters break and drove us to her ward.
I watched her scream and writhe in pain I’d never seen before.
I held her hand through each passing moment and saw my love fight through every last breath.
I sat by her side as she pushed down hard – and I witnessed my darling give birth to my girl.
I didn’t cry. Crying’s not for me. But boy, was it hard to contain.
They say you become a mother at birth, but that’s not what I saw.
My love was a mother from the moment she knew. She became one on the day I held her in my arms as she shook and clutched at that small plastic test. The way she cared, the things she did, the planning she made and the sacrifices she took said more than mere words ever could.
So I let her rest as I held our new love. She’d done enough work for the day.
Looking down at my delicate, tiny pink bundle, I studied her short, fragile fingers, her small button nose, her auburn hair and her red, pouted lips. So much of her mother in her.
Then, without warning, she opened her stunning, glistening eyes and gazed up softly to me. Big, blue eyes that windowed her soul.
Within them I saw my reflection.
I don’t like to cry. It makes me feel weak, but today I cried like never before. My heart poured out over our beautiful daughter, soaking into her wrapping as I clutched her tightly in my arms for the very first time.
Today, I became a father.
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