One and the Same
I have gained almost 9kgs since I became pregnant with my daughter. When she was born, it was 3.850kg, or 8.5 pounds. Although I look like I have returned to my ‘pre baby size’, this is an optical illusion because I am still growing. With each breastfeed and each nappy change, the total sum of the weight that is my existence, grows and grows. My total mass will grow for years to come. On the day that my daughter was born, I split into two parts. At 4.56pm on April 10th 2019, I existed as one, and at 4.57pm I split into two; what was once ‘me’ was now ‘me’ and ‘her’; ‘us’.
I have many photos of my daughter as a newborn, but one that always makes me gasp a bit is one of her the day we brought her home from the hospital, laying on a blanket on our lounge floor. She is the only living thing in the shot, and the cream couches behind her only serve to emphasis how starkly alone she looks. She is laying on her back, bathed in natural light, when just days earlier she had only ever known darkness.
It took me a while to adjust to living life when you exist in two parts. I held my newborn daughter close to me, but was sometimes overwhelmed and confused why she didn’t want to be put down, or want anyone else but me. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t rest when I was so tired, and I knew she was being held and rocked by someone else who loved her. But when I heard her cries, and knew that I could sooth them better than anyone else, it was a physical tug. I was drawn to put our two halves back together again to make a whole.
I also struggled with visitors and well-wishers who only saw a baby and a mother, not two parts of a whole. I remember the first time people saw her as her own person, when she was just leaving the newborn phases, and how excluded I felt to see people posing for photos holding her, with me just out of the shot.
We won’t always be one, as we have been one so far. For 15 months, from conception to chubby baby who can sit, I ate for both of us and she was nourished by my body only. She is now getting ready to crawl, her little limbs tentatively rocking back and forth. But equally there will always be a part of us that is one. Her flesh from my flesh, my body different for the existence of her body. The sum of my weight in the world continuing to grow as she grows.
“It is normal that your baby doesn’t want to be separated from you; her survival instincts are strong. She isn’t manipulating, she is communicating. She believes that she and you are one, not two. And on a subconscious level, maybe you do to.” Dr Sarah Buckley