When you open your eyes this morning, you’ll be excited. You will lick the sweet anticipation from your fingertips and rejoice at the sound of shredded paper, the singing voices of those who love you… The flicker of candles will dance in your eyes: seven, this year.
But for me, today will always be the sun throwing shadows on trees. Falling leaves and a packed duffel bag. A queasy stomach, and a blue car winding through the countryside to the hospital.
Waiting, still waiting for you to appear. The guest of honour, two weeks late for your own party.
Flicking through a magazine - looking, not reading - and waiting for the pain to come. But it’s OK because I know that you will be waiting, at the end of the pain, to meet me.
It starts, finally, in my back. A knot that I can control until the exact moment that it controls me. Bringing me to my knees. Soon I am in a dim room, descending. There, warm water rises around my naked body. Immersed. The splitting, the searing. The howling animal sound as the pain reaches its hard fist into me.
Then a voice saying, reach down now. So my hands sink into the water, and find you. Your small, slippery body presses against mine. Your head surprisingly heavy against my chest. And a feeling more unbelievable than space travel, more dazzling than the best magic trick.
Your father’s eyes lock mine as he holds you for the first time. And I think ours. After all these years, ours.
If you’re looking for me today, that’s where I will be. While you blow out the candles and make wishes for the year ahead, that’s where you will find me - in a dim room with you in my arms, sweet boy. Seven years. It's a long time. It's a heartbeat.
At that moment, I won’t be thinking about the endless nights, the colic, or even the autism... No, at that moment I will breathe in the smell of your skin all over again. And my chest will swell like it could explode - the way it does every time I look at you.
Seven years ago today, you gave birth to a mother. And I’m so glad you did.