When the midwife placed my son in my arms, almost 23 years ago, I will never forget the rush of emotion.
I was just 21, and after nine (seemingly endless) months and two weeks of waiting, he was finally there. New. Beautiful. A stranger.
At first, after the initial euphoria, I remember the strangeness of my first night in hospital with him. I literally couldn’t sleep. I just kept staring into the tiny, glass cot at this stranger who I was now responsible for.
I spent that night learning him. What he looked like. What he sounded like. What he smelled like. I watched his breathing, and I got to know him.
I remember after coming home from hospital, suddenly bursting into tears. I (probably delirious from lack of sleep) suddenly imagined a large dog coming into the room, and attacking my son. I knew in my core that I would allow myself to be eaten before I would let anything harm him. It was a visceral feeling of protectiveness.
I remember too the joy of his first smile. The bubbling, irrepressible infectious swell of his baby laughs. The way he gurgled along to nighttime crooning. The beauty of him.
It is only after becoming a mother that I can understand Gillian Clarke’s imagery in her poem Catrin (about her daughter) where she speaks of the ‘tight red rope of love…’
That strange umbilical connection is a feeling (in my experience) more potent than any other. At almost 23, my son is still the centre of my thoughts, and of my heart.
Today is National Safe Motherhood Day, in India, where approximately 44,000 women die each year, giving birth.
The World Health Organization states that globally, ‘the high number of maternal deaths…reflects inequalities in access to quality health services and highlights the gap between the rich and poor.’
There are many charities addressing this issue. We can all get involved. The privilege of motherhood should not only be for the privileged.