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Our Initiation Into Parenthood...

Alisha Bourke

When you’re 19 and pregnant your unborn baby is spoken about as an accident or a surprise and whilst on the surface I could say those things to justify being pregnant, my darling girl you were never an accident. I know the precise moment you were conceived, I remember it so clearly, even now all these years later. I wished, hoped and dreamed of you at your conception and you made all of my dreams come true.

When I finally had the courage to pee on the stick to confirm what I already knew, I was worried about telling your dad and of course ringing your Nan, as when I left home in my late teens she said, “don’t you ring me and tell me you’re pregnant!” I feared so much the disappointment, sadness and hurt in her voice. 

We visited a women’s clinic, a place where I knew other people had been to abort their babies, and whilst I knew it was something I couldn’t do, I felt I had to go because that’s what was “expected” of me, that everyone would doubt my age and my ability to be a mother. We had the first of many scans in that room and you probably not even the size of a grain of rice had the tiniest little smudge of a heartbeat.... that’s all I needed, that reassurance, to know you were real and on your way to us.

The truth is you were the first big milestone in my life that actually meant something, the first time I wholeheartedly stood up for what I believed in. You set me on my path, you opened my heart to a love I’d been dreaming of my whole life, and I for not one second would take anything back or change even a moment of our journey. 

As you grew in my womb I was fortunate to be surrounded by a few other young women who had, had natural deliveries of their babies and I thought to myself, “If it’s something they can do, surely I can do it too!” As an Emergency Cesarean birth myself, my original view of birth was, “my mum had a small pelvis so I probably have the same and I won’t be able to birth my baby vaginally either!” I have no doubt in my mind that they were the first snippet I had into viewing birth in a different way.

From those moments I filled my world with positive birth stories, I read all the books, we attended the hospital classes, even though we were the youngest there, we did not care we wanted to do what was best for ourselves and our baby. In the last two months of our pregnancy, I received a place in the birth centre program and I was so incredibly grateful.

We bought all the things and prepared for your arrival, I was tested on so many levels, work, family, friendships, emotionally, mentally & physically. My spirit was growing and evolving to make place for the person that would eventually become your mother.

We could not have been more prepared for your arrival, but also had no clue what to expect. On the day you decided to join us it was the 7th of April, six days short of your estimated due date. I woke up at around 3.30 in the morning, I went to the toilet, wiped and there I spotted our mucous plug. I looked down in disbelief, with excitement, concern and anticipation. I knew our lives were about to change forever.

My contractions started pretty much simultaneously with the loss of our plug. Faint at first, but enough for me to know that these were different, at regular intervals and building. Your dad and I, eager with excitement to meet you could not get back to sleep. We sat in bed, dreaming of you and played cards to pass the time away. There was a constant rhythm, a knowing that today was the day and around 6 am I rang your Nana to let her know that my labour had started, that I thought today would be the day and if she wanted to be at your birth she should probably get on a plane.

The sensations were building and I spent a great portion of my time in the bath as they began to get stronger. I’d get in and out of the bath numerous times before making the call to go to the hospital around lunchtime. Once we arrived we were taken to a beautiful, homey suite and were handled with so much care by our midwife. I retreated to the bathroom again, lay in darkness, in the warmth of the water, with a cool cloth on my head. I felt safe, secure and had surrendered to the process.

Your daddy never left my side, if ever there was a man who was meant to be a young dad it was your father. Always taking care of me even though it hurt him to see me in pain and unable to help, he did what he could. He kept reassuring me, telling me I was amazing, rubbing my back and whispering I love you’s into my ears.

I knew that things were really starting to ramp up and thought your arrival would not be very far away, at around 3 pm we knew Nana had arrived in Sydney but also knew that time was progressing quickly. She arrived at the hospital at around 4 pm when we were deep in the thick of it, I’d say now looking back near transition. I was very much feeling like I could not get through this, she wafted in with her essential oils and her kinesiology tools, helped your daddy and our midwife get me back into a state of knowing, that soon you’d be here, that I could do it and everything would be ok. I remember so clearly standing holding onto a windowsill, looking out but not really seeing anything and having Nana with a damp cloth with Lavender on my head, daddy standing to the other side rubbing my back and both of them taking turns to tell me how amazing I was doing. Not long after my water broke and I felt the urge to push.

I tried a few different positions but ended up kneeling on all fours on the bed. I’ve never known such pain, strength, determination and power. It was by far the hardest thing I’d ever done in my life yet at the same time the best thing I’d ever done in my life. Soon you would be here, soon you would be in my arms. As I birthed you from my body I transcended, I was also reborn, the birth of a Mama!

When you came out I reached down between my legs and pulled you up, however time stood still, in everything I’d read and learned I’d never seen a purple baby(completely normal by the way) and you had your cord tightly wrapped around your neck (nuchal cord), in the 30 seconds it took for me to register what was happening, I thought you had already left this world and I began to panic. However we removed your cord so easily, your colour began to turn pinkish and you let out a cry. I was flooded with relief, hormones and the greatest love I’d ever felt. I looked into your daddy’s eyes and saw his tears flowing and never had I loved him more than at that moment. Time stood still, I knew that this is what I was here for. To be your mother and guide you on this journey of life.

As we approach your thirteenth birthday, I can’t help but reflect on the past thirteen years, how much you’ve grown and how much we’ve grown together. You have always had the kindest heart and continue to shine that everywhere. As you’re growing and evolving into this beautiful young woman, I have moments of disbelief on how fast time has gone by.

I don’t think you will ever truly realise the depth of love I have for you my sweet, strong and determined girl. You changed our lives for the better, you have helped to shape all that I am, you have tested me, loved me, hated me and forgiven me, sometimes all within a five-minute window. Your love knows no bounds and I have every certainty you will bring magical gifts to this world as you continue to progress through life’s challenges and triumphs. 

I know that you have been dreading becoming a teenager and you don’t want to grow up. Whilst being a child is beautiful so is growing, finding out who you truly are, finding your voice, eventually standing on your own two feet and one day a long way down the track starting your own family. Be grateful for where you are at today, that you’ve got this day to live and make beautiful memories. Don’t be fearful of growing and evolving because you are magnificence in all its glory. You will do amazing things, all when it’s meant to unfold.

I’ve known no greater joy than becoming your mother. As we continue to face this path together I hope we will always grow together, I will listen when you need to speak, be a shoulder for you to cry on, I will pick you up when you’re down, be your safe space and always try to protect your beautiful heart. I hope that you will continue to always want to give me hugs, whisper in my ear how much you love me and how I’m such a great mummy. My darling girl, I love you, with all that I am, all that I have, and am so incredibly grateful to share this journey of life with you, as your Mama! Xx

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