Friday, April 22, 2011

First night

(based on suggestions from @awurster, @msmaddiep, @ernmalleyscat, @realnixwilliams, @twitofalili, @spikelynch)

Night midwives glide, smooth sharks

along carpeted corridors. Soft light

overheats darkness. Someone’s baby

is always grinting. Nurses are acrobats,

swift with infants, flip them from

hand to hand like a child’s clapping game.

Rhythm of newborns is in their fingers where

I am just transcribing spots from a leopard.

A book about babies teaches as much about

that tiny neck as a cookbook knows

what sponge cake tastes like. A child

is not a diagram of reflexes.

Everyone trampolines in at afternoon.

It is my night time, I have been awake for days.

My grandmother has six children, advises

everything inadvisable. Her technology of

colic and bland food has been superseded.

We don’t give spoonfuls of water any more.

Midwives relieve me of your squalling

head. I am as glad and guilty as Catholic steak

on Good Friday. Soon they bring back your limbs

that I made, your furry arms I will fill out,

milk the hours of dark feeding but right now

all I can think is what have I done.

I sing you what my mother sang, I call up

Alexander Beetle and Gone the Rainbow.

Still spotted with my blood like a ladybeetle

you are so, so new. No one is more amazed.

In the shower alone, I think you have disappeared.

In the shower alone, I think I have disappeared.


Today's poem is based on suggestions from six peeps:

  • @awurster: ” sponge cakes AND trampolines”
  • @msmaddiep: “Sharks? Always sharks.”
  • @ernmalleyscat: “shower thoughts”
  • @realnixwilliams: “how about trampolines and handclapping rhymes? (heard kids doing these today - so slightly different to the ones i learnt!)”
  • @twitofalili: “Alexander beetle! And eating fish on Good Friday cause you're staying with Catholics.”
  • @spikelynch: “how about nanatechnology (things that grandmothers excel in)”

The first night with a newborn is a surreal experience. I didn't even know how to pick him up, let alone feed him or change his nappy. How do I know if he's hungry? Should I wake him up? Every single movement was foreign to me, and I'd been awake for around 36 hours, and had an epidural, and everything was so, so strange. I knew I was supposed to love this new creature, but as the poem says, all I could think was 'what have I done'.

I did love him eventually, you'll be pleased to hear.

The photo is of Luka about 2 hrs after he was born, wrapped up next to me when we were alone in the delivery room.


Among Amid While said...

Wow, he looks so awake and aware, for 2 hours old.

Anna said...

He just kind of stared at me for ages. I was like, "Um, hi."

Jenny Chapman said...

Anna, this is so beautiful! Every woman's birth story is precious, exquisite, and important. Thank you so much for sharing such an amazing experience.

ernmalleyscat said...

A 'how did I get here?' for your 'what have I dine?'

awurster said...

Love the poem ! So beautiful Anna

anewexposure said...

beautiful work Anna

esther said...

Truly this is one for the most extraordinary, intimate, visceral, fragile, special and deeply personal things I have ever read.

Anna said...

Wow, thanks everybody.
I didn't expect such a response to this.

mademoiselle délicieuse said...

My favourite part is the last two lines, although I have yet to figure out why.