Everyone who has ever cuddled a baby knows that nothing is more hygge. The way they nestle in, so trusting; the way they fit so perfectly into arms; the sweet scent of them. Photo credit: Angela Topping, of my first baby, Laura Megan.
Carrying my daughter home
The thud of my boots and the cushion of my breast
give her courage. She is bold against the January night:
her knitted hat raised to the rain, to the bluster at her back.
Her lapis eyes glitter over rosegold cheeks, peering from the safety
of the sling; dimpled hands tap silent rhythms on my ribs. She is calm;
millennia of instinct have distilled into this child. We skip as one
through a chiaroscuro of side streets, kicking the weight of places to see
and people to be like crusts of snow from our heels. Inside we leave
the howling hills behind. Snug in the yellow window-glow of the kitchen,
her youngest brother puts the kettle on. I warm my daughter’s feet
between my ungloved hands, and tuck her into the safety of new blue
pyjamas, settle the shiver of her breath onto my shoulder.
You announced your entry
into the world,
with a cry so gentle
it fell on my ears like a song.
You left my body, but when they laid you,
skin on skin, warm and wet,
against my empty belly,
you entered my heart.
I stroked the smooth curve of your cheek,
the damp down of your hair,
took your hand and felt your fingers
coil and clasp with surprising strength.
I have watched you grow and blossom,
bear children of your own
and through it all we’ve shared
a million touches,
but I will never forget the first –
that warm, wet touch of your body
when they laid you, skin on skin,
against my empty belly.
I remember the moment I first held you.
Your body warm, eyes closed,
tiny mouth instinctively seeking
Now, a generation on you hand to me
your new-born daughter.
I take her.
Feel that self same rush of love,
raw and fiercely protective,
yet so tender,
that my breathing almost stops.
She lies in the curve of my arm,
eyelashes dark against her silk smooth cheek,
soft down of hair, tendrils of fingers
curled around my own.
This baby, longed for, wept for,
come at last.
I meet your eyes
and in our look is understanding,
love, relief, delight.
Your smile is flooded with maternal pride
yet tinged with awe.
We share a new and even deeper bond,
each knowing what it is to bear a child.
First published in Reach (won 2nd prize).