It’s the morning of the day that it finally happens, and I don’t yet know about the magic.
From my bed I see squares of coloured light dancing along the hallway as the sun shines through the stained glass panels of the front door. It must be a nice day outside, but I leave the blinds closed and find calm in the pattern of my breath. Perhaps I should realise that something is brewing, as if my enormous belly, sprawled feet and heavy breasts are not warning enough. I spend the day in the quiet, folding little clothes and imagining you.
Later, your Dad arrives home and reminds me of plans made with friends. In the restaurant we clink glasses as friends joke about having rubber gloves and a towel handy, just in case. We laugh, but under the table your Dad grips my hand tighter and our pulses quicken with the anticipation of you. After too much food we rise from our chairs and I’m relieved to be going back to the quiet.
Near the door I feel a warm hand on my shoulder and I turn to the smile of a woman who knows, her eyes young amid the web of lines on her face. I wait patiently for her to forecast your sex based on shape you’ve made me. Instead, amongst the clunk and clatter of the restaurant, she shares with me a truth I’ll soon know.
“Enjoy what’s about to happen, dear,” she says. “Because it’s by far the closest to magic you’ll ever come.”
At home I say goodnight, but sleep feels far away. Eyes closed and exhaling, something inside tightens and tremors, but it’s so gentle, it couldn’t be. I try again to find sleep, but it’s happening again, and again, and it’s a little stronger now. I think it’s you, little one, I think it’s time. In the tiny hours I wake your Dad and we’ve been imagining this moment for months, but there’s nothing left to say because the moment is here now, and so in the light of the lamp he steadies me as the swell grips me and takes me in its hold.
It’s time to get in the car now, and there’s a little spot waiting in the back, just for you. We arrive and your Dad helps to heave me from out of the car. Inside, warm faces smile and tell us it’s going to happen today. I’m scared but your Dad says we’re doing it together and he holds me as I surrender to the tide. Between the great rise and fall I recall the women in my life who have done this before me, and can see now the way their faces changed when they spoke of their battles and a strength they never knew. I can feel that inside me too now, the strength of those women and a million more, urging me and fighting for me and giving me the magic.
The current is moving fast now, drawing me up and throwing me down, but the magic stays within me and shares its force and propels me through. You’re so close now, I can feel you, and your Daddy says that he can see you! He’s crying and I am too, and just one more and you’ll be here. But the turbulence grabs me and takes me, and I don’t know if I can swim against it, but the magic picks me up and marches me back into the deep again.
One last little bit of magic, and you’re coming now, and I did it, here you are! Welcome, my little darling, it’s over now, you’re here and we’re safe and we did it! I’m so very pleased to meet you, little one. You’re on my chest now and I can already feel the warmth of life radiating from tiny, little, you. From the end of the bed your Dad looks on at us and the world has never known pride so great.
And as you share each of those first tiny breaths with this world, the magic so very gently compels us forward: women become mothers; and mothers, grandmothers. Although we don’t know yet know it, baby, the magic is here for the length of us. I’ll see it in your sleepy smile and feel it in the ferocity of love you’ll evoke. The magic will be there with us as our little family grow into each other, and it’ll be there as I marvel at you marvelling at the world. But for now the magic stays with us, in this little room for three, and watches over us as we learn each other, you and I. And it’s time to go now, little one, and your Dad bundles you up in the car. We’re going to show you our home now, and the little room we’ve made just for you.
Come with us now, beautiful baby, let’s go and make some magic together.
“A gender-equal society would be one where the word ‘gender’ does not exist: where everyone can be themselves.”*
I’ve always been aware of gender conditioning and actively tried to combat any lingering prejudices or stereotypes in my own parenting, even down to encouraging dolls with my boys when they were little. It’s great to read people writing about gender issues they’re experiencing with their kids. For too long these subjects have been discouraged or silenced. I’d love to publish some more creative writing on this topic, especially if you are struggling with a child who actively tries to move away from gender normative preferences. A society where everyone can be themselves – thanks Gloria for those aspirational words.
* Gloria Steinem