I will never forget the sensation of my first baby’s head at full 10cm dilation. The primal terror and wonder of labour and the delirious relief of delivery. I remember feeling different. Not just because my vagina was broken, and I was wearing a frozen pad.
Or that my breasts had engorged and presented me with milky augmentation or I’d made a human.
I looked in the mirror for a full 10 minutes after the birth of my daughter, trying to work out why I looked different.
I wasn’t the same. The girl who had entered that birth suite was not the same one who left. You see on that day; I hadn’t just learnt how to give birth, I’d learnt how to suffer. I had learnt the enormous capacity that women have for pain.
For endurance. For being in mind-altering torment when everyone around you was oblivious. When the most they can do is offer you water or a back rub.
I learnt that to get s**t done, mothers have to do it.
That's what was different. The girl I was before was gone. In her place was a woman I had only seen on bus stops or in supermarkets. She was softer, yet more fierce. She was more loving, yet angrier. She was a mother. This mother who I became went on to birth three more and take on another. Five children in total. Like notches on my uterus.