And then there were five.
Over the last seven years I’ve been pregnant four times, given birth three, breastfed a total of thirty three months and lost who knows how many hundreds of hours of sleep. I’ve celebrated and argued with my husband, discovered new highs of happiness and lows of exhaustion, felt my heart expand and fallen in love again and again and again.
Motherhood is a tough gig. It’s easy to lose some of yourself whilst focusing on the lives of little people and I’m definitely deep in that season, attached to a newborn whilst juggling a feisty two and a half year old and her five year old brother starting back at school after the twilight world that was total lockdown.
But being a mummy can also be magical. Maybe it’s the hormones, maybe I’ll feel different when the kids are driving dinosaurs over the baby’s head tomorrow morning at 5am, but these really are the days. Happiness isn’t objects or places or planning ahead but the here and now. Life is really good.
On Friday 5th March 2021 at 6.28pm, Cleo Carole Susannah appeared in our lives and made this family complete. Not wanting to be outdone by her big brother and sister, she arrived the quickest (which, given Joy’s birth story, is saying something) and the biggest – if only by 300g – weighing in at 8.1lb.
The kids and I were paying a doorstep visit to my older brother when I felt the first contraction. Like with Joy, it wasn’t anything painful, just a general tightening around my tummy. I’d secretly been hoping the baby would arrive that day – one day before her due date – because the timing couldn’t have been better, giving her a whole weekend to settle into the family before Nino started back at school. I texted Luke as a heads up but tried to play it down, not wanting to raise anyone’s (ok, mostly my) expectations in case it was a false alarm.
Heading home I started to time the contractions and as we arrived, the first waves of something closer to pain arrived. I was still slightly in denial but, having played midwife with Joy, Luke was insistent we call my parents over and head to the hospital. We gave the kids an early bath and tea before setting off.
In the car park I had to pause as a contraction took my breath away. Arriving at the maternity reception, we were shown to a very orderly waiting room which wasn’t quite where we’d expected to be. Then another contraction came and the receptionist quickly clocked that we might be a little further along than she’d thought . . . The midwife admitted us to the Birthing Centre at 5.50pm and less than forty minutes later, our beautiful baby girl was born
Just before Joy arrived, I couldn’t quite contemplate how my heart was going to expand to love another person as much as my two boys. This time round, I knew what was possible, but it wasn’t til Cleo emerged that I was hit by the full weight of that love, that power. Luke wrote down a quote from one of Nino’s story books we both adore which says ‘some things live in places words can’t reach’. That place is where the love I feel for Nino, Joy and now Cleo, lives, somewhere deep but ever present, incomparable, indescribable, inescapable. I feel like I’ve loved them all forever, and know I always will.
Cleo, we’re still getting to know you. Facially you’re a lot like your brother and sister were at this age, dark and serious and stern. Your eyes are perhaps a little lighter, your hair a little darker, with long piano playing fingers and stretching toes. Personality-wise, I’ve got a feeling you’re going to be the most calm and considered of our lively lot, but we have so much still to learn both from and about you.
Whoever and whatever you end up being, sweet girl, I’m honoured to call myself your mummy. I love you.