‘This book is a personal account of what it is like to have a child after years of an independent, fulfilling and varied life. But it is no usual account. The book is written as a duet, a dance between the voices of mother and baby. The reader is engaged in a complex and emotional dialogue where the fears of the mother and the reassuring wisdom of the child are expressed. This relationship begins when the child is conceived and continues through birth until the child takes his first symbolic steps away from the mother.

This honest, forthright account of pregnancy and motherhood pulls no punches about self doubt, fear, pain, the trauma of a difficult birth and a child’s unrelenting demands. It is also about the intensity of emotion, the deep fulfilment and the amazement of one woman as the whirlwind of alternating fear and joy settles down to become a growing and enriching love.’

 
  Excerpt (before the birth):

The child:

I am warmth and awareness and rosy night springing from a centre softly throbbing. Sparked by your loving con-
junction at a time most right I am entered into flesh, flowing with and through you, the woman I have chosen.

Through me, nourishing runs the river of your body, your food, your love, your joy, your fear – each breath of life enter
and mould me.

I am your secret expression, your private creation, your fearful concern. I am beholden to you. I am at your mercy.
 
The mother:
Child of my heart, beneath my heart, I have longed for your coming. In my dreams I have sung to you, caressed you, kissing your down-soft head. Together we have danced on many a shore, sniffing the salt air, sharing the arched splendour of the skies. And on nights when my soul has ached you have slaked your thirst from my abundant breasts. Laughing into my eyes, your face flaring into the night has eluded me.

You are not just my child/our child, a simple sum of this woman/this man; your birth may have shaken the stars long before ours. New born to us you are an old soul rich with wisdom garnered from lands and ages unknown to me, and I am afraid. Afraid of you?

The child:
To be afraid of me, is to be afraid of yourself, of what you set in motion and perpetuate. It is to be afraid of the crazy whirling dance of creation.

I am the essence of loving kindness, born into flesh that suffer and sings, to make again a new living. And because the time and place are new to me, and you my parents, it will be the journey of a pilgrim, an untrodden path stretching me, forging a stronger being. And we will set out together.

The mother:
Washed by the flickering shadows of a small oak tree my limbs sprawl, thankful to have my weight, your weight off my feet. Drum taut my belly swells gleaming like a burnished helmet shell. I imagine for the umpteenth time, you, curled up inside, a small, soft, pleated grub, shielding your belly.

In picture and in film I have seen the wonder of this burgeoning life, this becoming human – and still I am astounded.

Do you really look like that – a small soft coil with wallaby paws curled and pleading? Did I look like that?

The poet boasts of the temerity of the imagination, ego-spanning, chasm-leaping. Mine refuses to believe what grows within me, this rich swelling, you – mushrooming upward and outward at your own time. Quietly insistent. To see the world in a grain of sand? Oh to see you, small sprouting grain, in your world, in me.

The child:
Do not scorn your imagination though it seem pedestrian, lacking in Promethean leaps or Blake-like fire. Even though puny it sets you apart from all other living creatures.

Your imagination is more potent than you dare imagine for what is pictured in the mind with longing and conviction, soon lives and breathes. We loved and laughed and danced together in your mind and we will love and laugh and dance together in your world.

Mind called me forth and I was waiting, for we three are threads in a tapestry, weaving together an image of flaring colours that will touch many lives before we part.

I can see you wonder, in your so tactful way, if you truly speak to me in reality, or if I exist solely in your imagination. And I say to you, yes you do speak to me in reality – and yes it is all in your imagination.
 
Excerpt (after the birth):
 
The mother:
My world is my son. How meticulously I clean his overflowing bottom, dab meths on a shrivelling cord, coax uncaring limbs into miniscule singlets. An origami novice, I fold the first nappy, clumsily covering his scrawny buttocks, his balls bright as red plums, the swollen penis. So rich and ripe, the genitals of the newborn, plumped out by my hormones remind me that this purity is sexual to its core.

I feel I am handling something infinitely rare and horribly breakable, although common sense tells me babies must be tougher than they look. Like an initiate tending the master I am humble, solicitous to the point of absurdity, willing him to have faith in me, to like me, love me. Exposed, my soul quivers before his unblinking milky gaze.

Dear little angel Gabriel, how you leapt to life when we brought you home. Your body softened and stretched, limbering for living. Your eyes sprang wide open as you drank in the warmth, the light that poured around you, the green whispering masses of the trees.
 

The child:

Mother, oh mother, the light, the light, it wraps me around, rolling me in its waves, whispering, quickening, shining all around and through me.

When I lean backwards in your arms and look above the green to the great vaulted blue it cuts with its dazzle – slamming shut my eyes. But I find I can slit them so just enough light bounces in.

It seems my other world returning, flooding me with love and joy.

There are other lights – lights in the darkness, lights that dispel the darkness, softer, less thrilling, but still I am drawn to them.

I feel safe in the light as I feel safe in you my mother, cuddled soft around, burrowing in, I suck and suck, drawing your warmth and love deep inside me. You are my world, oh my mother.
 

'Out of this Whirlwind' is available from Rose.

 
 
 
 
 
   

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