It was a chilly August eve when we first met. Winter had descended months before but the icy sting in the air was still somewhat surprising to me, even though I’d anticipated it being present. It was much like the feeling of the first time our introductions were made. I’d known for a while the day was looming when we’d finally cross paths, yet when it occurred, the shock of it still shook my foundations to the core.
Most first dates are fraught with the fear of first impressions, and the battle to reveal your best self. But we were on an even keel here, because while you were far from polished at this initial introduction, I was no match for Heidi Klum on that night either. To be fair, we’d endured quite the rocky road in getting to this moment in time. Glamour had hours before gone out of the equation.
In the heady cocktail of excitement and relief, I hurried to drink in the vision before me. I had been loving you sight unseen for the last 40 weeks, but now was thirsty for the real thing.
Gushing a sigh of relief, I dared to take my first peek from beneath my puffy eyes. Shockingly, (shallowly) my first thought was “thank God he’s cute” even though I am sure you were anything but. In fact, as I recollect now, with the benefit of drug-free clarity, you were much like a tomato; flaming red skin, squishy to the touch, a tad misshapen and bruised on top. But then, our eyes met. Yours, though swollen, were a piercing blue that bored deep into the recesses of my soul, shattering any barriers that may have been clinging to unspoken fear. Eyelashes, curling forth like a perfect pipeline wave, framed your inquisitive eyes that stared relentlessly at me, as if trying to comprehend just how we came to be cradled together so intimately when we’d only just met.
To me you were flawless, even with the angry red welt that protruded from your perfectly rounded face. I lightly traced the length of it with my finger, hoping this delicate touch would help fade any trauma that lingered because of it. I let out a soft laugh at the sight of the tufts of hair vying for attention atop your tiny, slightly indented head. Black as the night sky outside, they rose and fell in haphazard poetry, framing your angelic face.
Falling in soft folds, your gossamer skin was sheathed in that first flush goo, and gentle to the touch. Then there was your little Buddha belly, announcing its arrival earlier than the rest of you, jutting forth from the tangle of limbs that held you as one. It was already demanding to be filled.
The look you gave me was a combination of comforting and unsettling. You studied me as if we’d met before, and were being reunited after a long absence. I felt as if you intrinsically understood that I was meant for you, and vice versa. That fate had ensured we wind up together once more.
Perhaps you knew instinctively that very first night, that I’d need a favour here most of all here. That because I had endured a terrible trip on the road to meeting you, you would in turn offer me a night of peace. Teeming with adrenaline, throbbing with pain, and unceremoniously thrust into a ward with three other new mothers (one of whom made it her personal mission to ensure the entire building knew her business, with her louder than thunder voice) my stinging labour side effects left me emotionally and physically reeling.
But blessedly, you slept … And as far as first dates go, that is what I had hoped you’d do. Sure, I was wreathed in a sweaty fear of reality, enduring an endless pulsating agony no birth book had described to me, so much so I was unsure how I would even be able to shift to pick you up, should you cry. Maybe you knew, because you did not move. Countless hours crept by with me unable to sleep, I watched your tiny chest rise and fall with all the grace and rhythm the angels above had intended.
Being someone who’s fascinated with superstition, I felt it a sure sign from above that this was a blind date with destiny. The supremely impressive sequence of numbers that announced your arrival into this world: 20.08.2008, at 8.20pm is rather unique!
And now, three years on, each day offers up another magical memory and milestone that we’ve moulded together. The smarting recollection of labour still haunts a little, but the very first vision of you is sheathed in sunshine, of our unforgettable first date… Happy third birthday, my beautiful boy Harrison x