Some time in early July
Fourteen years ago (and two months to be precise) I discovered I was pregnant. It was early days so I hadn’t had a scan and had no idea at this point that I was carrying a wee little boy. It was the beginning of something very special, but also the start of a very traumatic time as I had a pretty horrific birth and both me and my son were in hospital for a few days after the birth, both of us quite poorly. He was an emergency caesarean and came out with no heartbeat, no pulse and, clearly, not breathing. I had undiagnosed pre-eclampsia, which means, basically, they couldn’t stop me bleeding. Two days later, we were told by the consultant paediatrician, who had been present at the birth, that we were both very lucky to be here.
I wrote the poem below, ‘Some time in early July’, a few days after I had found out that I was pregnant. We lived in West Yorkshire at the time and I was on a train and still a bit dazed and more than a bit scared about what was around the corner. I was terrified about the whole idea of childbirth, and even more petrified about what sort of mum I’d make. I was 34, so not a young mum, and had put the idea off for a long time. I had never seen myself as being a mum. Surely this meant being sensible, responsible, selfless, all things I felt pretty rubbish at.
The thing is, once they’re there, well, all those anxieties disappear don’t they? You have new worries, but they are all part of the nurturing and selflessness that comes with parenthood. And, I realised, being sensible and responsible weren’t prerequisites to being a good mum at all. In fact, I now had license to act like a complete twonk… YIPPEE!!!
So here it is, the poem that began my journey to motherhood:
Some time in early July
I take you through hills,
past wooded gutterings
shading sand-stone to grey,
on ancient tracks that swell and swim with the heat,
dressed up in red and cream.
Baskets of petunias cloud the straight lines
before we too become a cloud
hidden among a chain of faces.
A converted methodist chapel,
whose memories of the dead wax and wane,
sits upon a bent earth
leaning into the wind
while sheep, gathered in a field,
congregate at a wooden gate
awaiting the clatter of the buckets.
You are tiny in my tummy.
In a week you will have the beginning
of bones the beginning
of so many things,
beyond a gleaming light
I lean, a shadow against this glassy light
feeding you with images of green,
and cows who loll under an elephant grey cloud
as I see and feel all of this
through a bread and butter rhythm
and a little apple pie.
Have your memories and experiences of parenthood ever inspired your writing?