22 Sept 2008
The week before Tim’s birth I was unnaturally calm, my anxiety betrayed only by the odd sobbing spell that broke suddenly like a Highveld thunderstorm.
Day 1: Joy
At the hospital I felt nauseous with anxiety, and like a child I closed my eyes to ward off the world. Christo stroked my hair. A soft-spoken Russian anesthetist gently injected my spine. My legs disappeared. Something pushed down on me and with a great guttural wail, Tim burst bloody and waxy into the world. He was unbelievably beautiful and I exploded with joy and tears.
Our first day was heavenly. Timmy slept in my arms all day, bathed in golden light and pethedrine, holding each other tight.
Day 2: Terror
At 4am a rough nurse tossed me out of bed. Hot pain. Then she abandoned me to take an inexpert bath alone, wincing and whimpering.
Tim wouldn’t wake up. Nurse said not to worry, newborns do that. 12 hours later blind panic struck. He was hot and lethargic. I stripped him down and dabbed him with wet cotton wool. A few hours later he choked on vomit because I hadn’t burped him properly. By the end of the day I was tearful. I spent the night fighting off terror. He was so little.
Day 3: Delusions of Mastery
Next day I woke Tim up every four hours and fed him. After a rough start, we were getting the hang of breastfeeding (deceptively tricky to begin with). A few successful feeds and nappy changes later and I was feeling masterful … only to be undone a few hours later by a bout of angry hiccups and a fretful feeding session lasting 4 hours. I finally worked out it wasn’t food he wanted and cuddled him in bed.
One week later …
Yesterday we had a wonderful day. He was so peaceful and easy going – sleeping, feeding, pooing, peeing and chilling bright-eyed with us. But just the day before I woke up feeling like someone had smashed my arms with a hammer. I don’t know what I’d do without Christo. He calms Tim and I down when we’re exhausted and stuck.
Today Timothy Zé Doherty turns 1 week old. We’re getting a little orange-cherry cake from the bakery and a candle to celebrate. He is as cute as a button.