OPINION: Memories of giving birth stick with mums forever

Ruth's daughter Posie who celebrates her first birthday this week

Ruth's daughter Posie who celebrates her first birthday this week - Credit: Ruth Davies

To placate a night of no sleep we tell a mummy “the nights may be long but the years, oh the years are short” wanting her to know the hard bits get better and she absolutely will look behind her wondering where it all went.

It’s hard to imagine time evaporating when in the early hours, soothing a colicky baby, a baby cutting teeth, a hungry one, a wet one, a just-want-to-be-awake-and-play one, but I have to say, in truthfulness and even in the depths of the witching hour, the years really are short but actually, so are the nights.

This week our baby turns one and I’m struggling to fathom the time having passed. It absolutely feels like only yesterday I was pacing the hospital car park, with my husband making annoying jokes about me not fitting between gaps in cars, waiting for Posie to arrive.

I can almost taste the smell of the hospital as I laboured through contractions.

I see the faces of the staff vividly like it only just happened, and that moment, that wonderful moment of her shooting into the world at record speed for the final stage of labour, I can still sense perfectly.

I held that tiny dot in my arms, clutching the gas and air, with tears of relief she was safe, exhaustion after pushing, and so much love I thought my heart might actually burst.

A feeling which just goes on and a joy we feel when looking at her always. My husband Jonny and I frequently just stop and say “She’s so lovely isn’t she? She really is just the sweetest baby! Aren’t we lucky?” and we so feel that adrenaline high of having her complete our family with true happiness every day.

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It’s like we’d been missing a piece of the puzzle then, finally she was here, to slot into the missing place and make the picture perfect.

I really feel like that about all of them.

Even the oldest who is now at high school and 12 years old. The brilliant memory of the moments just before, and as she arrived, stay with me like they’ve only just happened, so ecstatic they were.

Florence arrived to fireworks and snow as the world ticked over into a new year and a new decade. I can see falling flakes and colourful explosions outside the window, feeling the warmth of her skin on mine so absolutely it feels impossible the reality takes it over a decade distant.

The same with my boys.

Not being here and then, in an instant, arriving to a world that could never be imagined back on the other side.

A moment which feels so close, how can it possibly be so long ago? Jimmy arrived in the living room as I birthed him while looking out into the street.

I can still feel his head, I know exactly the sensation as he slipped out, into my husband’s arms.

I can remember the fall to the floor exhausted as the whole room shouted “don’t sit down!” Jonny had caught our baby but slippery as he was, promptly dropped him.

He was passed through my knees as I grabbed at him, clutching his little red body shouting “my boy, my boy” so happy he was a he, even though I’d had no preference. It felt right, of course he was a boy, the stars aligned to how it was meant to be.

Raffie’s arrival was harder but feels no further away. A baby who wouldn’t come turned into a baby who couldn’t.

Forceps showed he was stuck after many hours of natural labour, many more with oxytocin and the emergency operation had far more drama after the baby was born safely.

Raffie was held aloft for me to see as I haemorrhaged, body in shock after such trauma and I very calmly drifted in and out of consciousness watching them taking care of me.

I can imagine the tears on my cheeks even now, thinking back to the me then, silently crying thinking I may never hold this beautiful creature.

I told my husband, his fearful face watching the chaos he could see, but that I couldn’t as they saved my life, to go and be with the baby.

Then I woke up and he was in my arms and the world was right. Jonny looked like he’d been ploughed into a hedge backwards by a bus, exactly as I probably should have felt, but I only felt happy. So happy. To be alive? Yes of course. But to have my baby and know we were going to have such fun together.

Many things are said about having a new-born, the shock, the work, the dramatic change to life.

It seems it’s far more conventional to talk about the challenges. For me however, those are the most remarkable days, even when they’re unexceptional. Babies, from birth when they are curled up, eyes closed, sleeping most of the day, to their first birthday, do change so greatly. I love it all so much I hardly dare breathe let alone sleep for not wanting to miss a beat.

It feels unimaginable it was a year ago when our tiny babe was about to be born. Today she walks, talks, claps, laughs, knows where her nose is, cuddles and kisses with pursed rose bud lips, feeling and giving all the love.

But here we are with our little lockdown girl and I feel like it was only yesterday we were pacing that hospital car park, waiting to see who she would be.

Of course, now we know, she was always our little Posie of flowers, come to fit into the puzzle and make the picture perfect.

Happy birthday little one of ours, I do so hope the days start to slow down a bit because it isn’t half passing by in a flash and we are having so much fun!

Ruth Davies has a parenting blog at www.rocknrollerbaby.co.uk