C-section, live.

Yesterday, I had the tremendous privilege of being a good friend’s birth partner. This was the first time I had ever done anything like it, and it also happened to be a planned caesarean, something of which I had no experience either. So, naturally, I had to write a poem about it. This one is for you, M.

scrubs

Birth

All I can see is your head
You are strapped to a bed
with what looks like pink parcel tape.

You smile and shiver while unseen
doctors work behind a screen:
to us they’re only sound and shape.

We chat about sci-fi and fantasy
and agree to disagree,
then we fall silent, you close your eyes.

On three hours sleep, you’re looking worn
and out of sight your child is born,
breaking the hush with disgruntled cries.

Birth for me was full of stress,
full of noise and blood and mess.
This gentle stillness is quite new.

I cuddle your daughter, hold her up,
as invisible doctors stitch you up,
and I look at calm and glowing you.

Thanks
for sharing these first moments
as a mother of two.

(c) Judith Kingston, 2014

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Waiting for adventure

rainI have been writing this poem for a long time. For six weeks, in fact. I’m not sure if it has actually made it better or worse than the poetry I was churning out in about fifteen minutes flat on a weekly basis before I went back to teaching in September.

Anyway, I mention this to explain why the topic of today’s poem is a tiny bit out of date. It is about how I hate January.

January Carol

Too long it stretches with grey foggy skies
No hidden, glittering gem now lies
In bleak midwinter meadows
Bearing hints of spring
And gleams of hope.

starry Virgin
weary mother
bringing up Immanuel

Stark leafless trees and churned muddy fields
No thrilling adventures the world now yields
Just bloodless exposition,
First chord struck,
The first page turned.

After pains of birth and newborn joys
Comes slogging feeding chaos noise
Through plain days drained of colour
Watching drying paint
And growing child.

changing nappies
washing dishes
destiny seems a fairy tale.

Beyond the horizon veiled from view
The humming prelude of something new
Where long awaited promise blossoms
Layers peeled away
And life reborn.

Glory lies just there, you see?
Forgetting what is past
The ordinary steps will lead
To the thrill of life at last.

(c) Judith Kingston, 2014

regen tegenlicht

Photographs (c) Pieter Kroonenberg

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Prose for Thought

A Great Gift

Gods hand

This letter is a tribute to a baby that will forever be 9 months old, found sleeping by her mother a year ago tomorrow.

Dearest Matilda Mae,

I am writing to you on the eve of the anniversary of your death. I have no idea how your family will cope with this day. I don’t know how they cope with nursery runs or supermarket shopping or peeling potatoes, to be honest – I hope that on the anniversary of the day you left they won’t need to do any of those things and they can just spend time being together and remembering you: wonderful you.

You are famous, did you know that? You didn’t stay very long down here on earth, but you have made a massive impact on many, many lives. You have trended on Twitter, you have had fundraisers organised in your name, you have inspired poetry and prose, you have brought about new friendships. You have accomplished more than most people achieve in eighty long years of life, just by being beautiful, adorable you – and by leaving far too soon.

You have changed me, too. When my daughter wakes in the night, more often than not I check my annoyance and frustration and think of you and your wonderful mother – how she must long to be woken in the night by your familiar sounds. You remind me, often, that caring for a small life is a wonder and a privilege, and every moment, night or day, is to be cherished. Who knows how many moments we might have.

I live in one of the teenage pregnancy capitals of the world. Back when I was desperate for a child but none seemed to be forthcoming, the grumpy teen mums on the bus made me furious: they had what I wanted, and didn’t want it. It had “just happened”, an unwanted accident. Those tiny faces in the designer prams, beautiful miracles. It is astounding that any children are conceived at all, so many factors need to line up for it to happen. Every child is a gift, I thought then.

But I was wrong. A child is not a gift.

Although every child enriches its parents’ lives, brings them joy and laughter and cuddles, it is not a gift. Children don’t belong to us. God does not create them for our benefit.

He makes people. The people that he has chosen, that he wants to put into the world for a special purpose.

Matilda Mae, you have done so much. You brought joy to your parents, your brother and your sister while you were with them. Now you are gone, but you are still working in their lives, in their hearts and in the hearts of thousands of people who never even met you, like me. And Esther and William, too, are special people with a special purpose, working at it perhaps a little more slowly than you have done, spending more time.

You are gone but you haven’t left. You are still fulfilling your special purpose. The star, the heart.

I’ll leave you with this. I wrote this for your Mum in a comment on her blog, but I will share it here as it seems appropriate:

The heart.

The single one that binds
the doubles:
the twins, the couple.
The little one to dote on.
Living out joy,
giving out love.

Unimaginable,
the hurt of the heart ripped out,
taken away to be elsewhere.
Your heart is elsewhere.

But the shape of her remains.

Curl round and hug what is missing.
Wrap yourselves around the hole
like a helix.
She shapes your family DNA
as it shaped her
your bodies, your smiles,
your tears, your heart beats,
spell her name
write love letters
to the heart
to Tilda
present in her absence
shaping a future
she won’t be in

loving still
still loved

Tilda.

The heart.

All my love to you and your family on this dark day, Baby Tilda. I am praying for brighter days ahead.

Judith
Letters for Matilda Mae