Not By Accident
With you suckling at my chest and our family here to celebrate your birth, I feel elated, and sure it must be over. But it isn't quite over yet. The family are ushered out for the doctors to begin stitching me up. I’m on my back, feet in stirrups, trying to think more about you than about the four or five people examining the damage. Your tiny fingers are so long and thin, with soft fingernails that curl over at the ends. Your hair is fair and curly, but darker than mine. Or is it the dry blood and amniotic fluid that make it look that way? Your little nose is upturned, like my sister's. It’s the one feature I recognize from the scans. Your eyes are big and blue, the shape of mine and my fathers. It’s late by the time I'm helped into a wheelchair and moved to the ward, you in my arms. We study each other's faces, stare into each other's eyes. We're wheeled down to a ward that is almost deserted, and I have to let go of these midwives and the wonderful care and attention they've given me. We're on our own. I suddenly realise it was a big mistake not to ask someone to stay with me tonight. I imagine how distressing it must be to no longer hear my heartbeat as you lie alone in the world for the first time. You are never taken from my side, and I love being with you, but I miss you being inside me, almost a part of me. I miss my pregnant belly. I study you, awake and asleep, getting to know all the parts of your face and your body. I recognize the way you move, curl up, stretch out, from how you moved inside me. I look for the things that I recognize from me, and the things I don’t recognize, that must come from him. I have no colour in my face. Even my hands and arms have the pallor of a corpse. I'm not getting much stronger. The doctors don’t think I lost enough blood to be in the state I'm in, but decide to test me, and find that I have. They give me a blood transfusion and within hours I start to feel stronger. I haven’t decided on a name yet. I've got it down to three, and thought I'd know once you were born, but my head is so foggy that I'm just not sure! I try to ignore opinions and pressures and after the transfusion, I have clarity. Astrid. Your name is Astrid. It takes weeks to feel natural, but we settle into it. Astrid is definitely who you are. Not By Accident is made by me, Sophie Harper, supported by 152 generous donors through the Australian Cultural Fund. Thanks to my family, my friends and my daughter for allowing me to record, and for the practical and moral support. Please subscribe, rate and review to help the series find more listeners. Go to notbyaccident.net to sign up to my occasional email newsletter, tweet at me @byaccidentnot and if you know anyone who might like to listen, please share! Music by permission from the artist: Hooked by Versus Shade Collapse. Music from freemusicarchive.org - CC NC License: Oxygen Garden by Chris Zabriskie; Sleepless Nights by Dexter Britain; Spellbound by Broke For Free.US listeners, support the series and eat well. Hello Fresh Has signed on to support me for 2017! Sign up at www.hellofresh.com and use the promo code 'noaccident35' to get $35 off your first delivery. Everybody wins!Go to www.notbyaccident.net to find out more about the series or to get in touch.