I had my third and final child two weeks ago, and I expected a lot.
The horrendously painful, dignity-destroying drama of labour (think epic pooing, bloodcurdling screams and shameless begging for a too-late epidural).
The unique, beautiful wonder of finally meeting the tiny being that had tumbled and kicked and squashed my kidneys for nearly ten months.
The dreamlike, soul-numbing first week, where emotions ran high, maternity pads ran thick and sleep unhelpfully did a complete runner altogether.
The second (and third, and fourth…okay, and fourteenth) day blues, the highlight of which was the morning I cried because my husband was taking too long to make my decaf coffee despite my barking orders at him like the gestapo.
I expected it all, and for the third time was reminded that actually, newborns tend to do everything except the expected. But amongst all these expectations, I experienced the one thing I hadn’t prepared myself for: grief.
It hit me during my first shower at home, where I found myself blissfully alone for the first time since giving birth. No baby sucking ferociously at my breast, no small brother or sister peering at my cracked nipples with horrified fascination, no midwives, no husband, no visitors. As I felt my shoulders relax under the pressure of the steaming water and all my body had been through over the past twenty four hours, I was surprised to feel the weight of something else. Or rather, it was the absence of weight.