Heather du Plessis-Allan: Motherhood and hopes for the babys country


By now I should be a mum. That is, if everything went to plan.

I’m booked for an induced labour on Friday, two days ago. And I’m writing this before going to the hospital, because bugger doing it afterwards. Obviously.

I say obviously like I know what’s about to hit me but really I have no idea. I can’t imagine how little sleep I might get, or how little time I’ll have after rounds of feeding and burping and changing, or how much I’m going to worry about him. Every day. For the rest of my life.

Everyone tells me their stories but I guess it’s a bit like telling someone what it’s like to bungy jump: you have to do it yourself to really understand.

If I’m honest, I’m a little bit scared. Just in the last week, the enormity of what’s about to happen has overwhelmed me a couple of times.

This is the first time in my life that I can’t walk away. It’s not like buying a house that you can always sell again or taking a job you can always quit. Once my wee mate arrives, this is it. Forever. He’ll need me immediately and he’ll never stop needing me.

I know that, because I still need my mum.

My mum. What a bloody legend. I always knew she was, because she raised three kids essentially by herself. There were times that money was so tight she couldn’t spare $15 for a T-shirt for me. So she sat up at night sewing curtains to make ends meet, buying groceries on the tightest budget, painting walls with the last of her money to make the draughty, wooden villa next to the church in Pukekohe look a bit nicer.

So, I knew she had strength of character. But I never really understood how much she must’ve loved the three of us.

Carrying my own baby in my belly, feeling him wriggle around, I understand now. You love that baby before he’s even born. You convince yourself that when you rub the side of your tummy and he wiggles even more, it’s because he likes your rub. I’m not sure it’s actually what’s happening but I prefer my story.

And now, when my mum tells me how falling pregnant felt like a miracle, I get it. And when she talks about the times immediately after a big rain when she’d take me down to the temporary rock pools for a swim, I understand how happy it must’ve made her to know she’d made her toddler happy that day.

And then there’s my baby’s father. What a good man. He did everything he could to make my morning sickness better: cooking dinners, bringing cups of tea, tidying the kitchen so I wouldn’t have to get up off the couch. In the last few weeks, when my sleeping became so uncomfortable it woke me, he never complained once about how often I then woke him up. And when the hormones made the smallest things seem like a VERY big deal, he ignored it and didn’t get cross.

I hope our baby has his personality and laughs as often as he does, at the same stupid things he finds funny.

They say having a baby changes what you value and it’s true. I want more for our country now. Nine months ago, a politician could’ve convinced me with a tax break. But now, I want to know that politician has a plan to keep New Zealand as wonderful as it was for us to grow up in. I want to know that our schools are world-class, that our jobs pay well and that our cities are good places to live. I want this boy to want to live here, in the same country as his mum and dad, and never leave for a better lifestyle in Sydney and London and New York. I want things that benefit all Kiwis, because what is good for all Kiwis is good for him.

But first, I just want this boy to arrive safely. I can’t wait to meet him.

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