Giving life was undoubtedly the most intense and overwhelming experience I’ve lived through as a living being.
It’s not easy to describe it with words.
It all began when I knew there was life inside of me, after winning the battle against infertility. I was a few days late and was holding my breath and hoping this time it would be for real. It was only a few days after that we had the courage to buy a pregnancy test and when we saw the blue stripes that confirmed we had finally made it we laughed and cried at the same time, we hugged and kissed and jumped and sang and shouted and we were invaded by all sorts of contradictory emotions; joy and fear, hope and responsibility, certitude and anguish, but above all that we were swept by a huge wave of happiness, a strong belief that we were finally building our future. And all this rollercoaster of emotions was caused by this tiny, tiny being whose life was just beginning inside my body.
One thing is to know you have a baby growing inside you; another is to actually feel it. I must have been four months into my pregnancy – after an upsetting threat of miscarriage that kept me in bed for a few weeks – when one day, with no warning, as I was sitting on the study’s couch, I felt as if a small butterfly had fluttered its wings inside my womb…I froze and stood still as if I wanted to confirm this strange sensation was real, and there it came again, hesitant at first, and then more strongly as if the baby – my baby – had decided to start communicating with me in a physical way, for our souls had been communicating already, since that very first day I had know he was there with me. I shouted for his dad and he came and I shared my news with him, but this was something very physical only I could feel, for the time being. Later, as our baby grew and began kicking strongly, his dad would put his hand on my belly and talk to him in his deep strong voice and it was as if he already knew his father, for he would settle down and kick less furiously. We simply stared at my already huge belly as it kept going up and down! When we went for the scans we looked hard for our baby’s features and limbs in the portrayed images and quite early in the pregnancy we knew it would be a boy. From that day on we began calling him by his long chosen name – Afonso.
I had many conversations with him; I put music on for him to listen to and I even told him stories. There was never a happier time for his father and me, for we were united by this most important of all projects – giving life. For me there was never a tiresome moment during my pregnancy, only joyful moments; in the end when I grew heavier, I longed for him to be born but only because I was so curious to see his little face, what he would look like, to actually hold him in my arms. But I was not in a hurry, as I knew I would miss these days when he was still nestling inside me.
And then came the happy day when I gave birth, when I “officially” gave life, even if for me it had all began almost nine months earlier. It was a relatively quick birth for a first time, and I had chosen not to have an epidural anaesthesia, as I was less terrified of childbirth pains that of having a needle inserted into my spine. I was in labour for about three hours and in the end the contractions were almost unbearable, so my doctor ministered some intravenous drug (later I learned it was some morphine derivative) that brought me much relief, while leaving me the necessary consciousness to actively participate in the birth, pushing when I was supposed to. My eyes were closed and I felt as if I were floating; I felt the pain somewhat far away, although still strangely there; suddenly I heard a command for a final push and I obeyed, I pushed with all my strength and I felt this slippery thing coming out between my legs and heard the doctor’s triumphal cry “we have our boy!” and in my half cataleptic state I was looking for some hint in his voice that all was well with my baby and then I knew it was so.
Now physical relief – all the pain had miraculously stopped – was mixed with an indescribable feeling of exhilaration, of feeling on top of the world, a huge feeling of wonder as the baby – my son – was suddenly given to me and put on my chest, against my heart. Oceans of tears of pure joy poured down my face as I covered with kisses the slimy, bloody, black haired head of my baby, not caring about how dirty he was, not caring that he was crying his heart out, only feeling the most intense love I had ever experienced, and so many other overwhelming emotions that I could never describe in a million years. It was a moment of complete happiness, of not wanting or needing anything else in the world.
Afterwards they took my baby away for cleaning and weighing and doing all the necessary tests. Later they brought him back to me and I marvelled at his tiny perfection, at his incredibly long fingers and dark blue eyes, but that night I silently cried as I missed having him inside me. What nonsense, I thought, I am so happy to have my baby beside me, all went well and he is healthy and beautiful. That night as I cried and called myself silly I knew nothing would ever be the same, I had given him life, I had given him to the world and from now on he would never be wholly mine again. There was a new certainty in my life, one that has never abandoned me since, never faltered: as I looked at the tiny being peacefully sleeping beside in his cot I knew I had fallen deeply, madly, hopelessly, in love. And I also knew this love would last forever, no matter what.
A few years later when my second son was born I was a bit anxious – would it be possible to feel all these overwhelming emotions and unconditional love again? I had no need to worry, as they all invaded me again like the first time and my heart expanded to welcome the new baby with exactly the same feeling, the same love. A love that has been there ever since, a love that will go on filling my heart for as long as I live. The greatest love of all, the love of a woman who has given life. The woman who is called Mother.