I have been maternal ever since I can remember. My first doll I fell in love with lived on the shelf at the Hypermarket Store until she became mine. Her beautiful crib lived in the local tuisbedryf (local home craft store) and Father Christmas bought it for my baby Marie. Marie had other dollie siblings and they took up most of my bed with me squeezing my body at the end. She was my fave though and my most beautiful baby. My sister Tertia flung hers across the room in careless abandon. She pulled my dolls hair and told me they were not real but I knew otherwise. (Big sister torture!)
Fast forward to me being 24 and pregnant with Daniel. Absolutely thrilled and all consumed by this miracle growing in my belly. I was fanatical about being healthy and beyond excited. The birth was awful and traumatic at a state hospital but my face had changed. I had experienced love in its purest form and I was forever altered. I insisted on breastfeeding despite being a single young mom working night shifts and racing from town to Durbanville at 6:00am so I could feed my boy and relieve my knockers. Why was I so very hard on myself who knows? I probably still do it!
Then we have Rebeka 6 years later and once again I love my even bigger belly with my squirmy baby that kicks and pushes. She emerges after a better birth weighing 4.2kg. She is hard work, a cross baby. I am once again drowning in breastmilk and hormones and permanent exhaustion. I am 100% raw and vulnerable and I try and hide in my cocoon with my baby not wanting to hear anything that makes me sad.
2004 and my last baby is born. Zack Gary turns out to be Sofia Josephine and it is love at 1st site. I am smitten with this baby. I hold her in my arms for the entire 1st year and only put her down to sleep alongside me or when I nurse her in the quiet of my bedroom hiding from my other 2 kids.
Later I try and convince Gary to adopt and we almost land up adopting but it doesn't happen. We even consider IVF as reversing the vasectomy would have taken too long. In that time I felt that familiar feeling of expecting a baby. I feel soft and beautiful and feminine. I know its a cliche but that is how I feel. Special. And then it doesn't happen and I try and squash all the longing and maternal hormones back into a box that feels too small for such a big feeling. I am cross and bitter but like with everything else, time passes and I get over it.
And now...now these maternal feelings come rushing back only this time its my dog and memories from places far far away come flooding out. Her labour was hectic. Her 1st baby girl stillborn. I called her Anna which makes no sense as that was the name of my daughter I never got to adopt. The puppy was the largest of all and perfection. I think of all the mothers I know who have stillbirths or lost infants shortly after birth. Mothers from the hospital when I ran Bosom Buddies, my friend who lost Ethan, another who lost her daughter Sofia Grace, my own nephew who I never got to see. I will this puppy to breath, I won't dare compare my feelings to anyone who has had a baby born sleeping but I can only imagine the disbelief at looking at the perfect child you cannot believe is not alive. During the labour we land up losing 5 little puppies. One had died in utero and was very small. I felt no sadness with him and did not name him. The others, 2 girls and 2 boys. Anna, Rosie, Ollie and Boris. Gary took them to the vet to be cremated. The labour was hectic, one little one was gagging and I placed my mouth over his and sucked out any fluid and rubbed his little body and prayed like crazy till that tongue turned a beautiful pink. And since then I have been on this frantic quest to keep all 9 alive and thriving. My Josie-Bunny was only 200grams, half the size of her brother. Nature vs nurture? Well sorry for you cruel nature but I cannot lose another pup. I feel irrationally responsible for the 4 we lost.
So I sit and listen like I am listening now to their mewling and breathing and occasional hungry cries when mom is not around. She has become less interested in feeding them and of course that makes me crazy anxious. Gary and I take turns to sit in the room at night in case she lies on one and crushes it. I feel total new mom exhaustion, worry, pride, love, panic. When I go to the shops I want to rush home to my babies. All my cellular memories of loss, of love, of nurturing are right back out again. Raw, real, crazy maternal me is back. How will I deal with it when they go to their forever homes? I hope by then I am so over it. By then they will chew and nip and bark and destroy my house. I will clean up wee and poop of 9 pups. I will deal with it then and right now I will embrace this experience with exhausted mind, body and soul and love my little furbabies: Evie-Pops my feisty girl, Amy-Rose my gentle big girl who loves to nap, Josie-Bunny so small but strong and determined, miracle happy go lucky George, Big Jack Jackson who is the pick of the litter and easy going and affectionate, Lincoln my tough boy who feeds and then goes off to nap on his own, Maya Papaya who fights through her brothers to get her teat, Paulie my little boy who loves his siblings and his Mama and then Molly my second biggest girl who also loves to hang with the bunch and is so easy. I am blessed, overwhelmed and a little bit cray-cray!