She hiccuped her way into the world

Today is our little Gwendoline Joan’s first birthday.

A year ago, her enormous, bump-juddering hiccups broke my waters, and my body gave this soft little bundle up to the world.

A first child bursts into life, painting a brand new scene. A second child arrives like a jigsaw piece, moulding into the family picture already surrounding it.

I’d expected my first months with Gwen to have the same shape as those I’d spent with Austin. Opening my eyes each morning to see a beaming face, which radiated joy for the simple fact that he was waking up next to mum and dad. Spending the day sharing private jokes, transmitted through our broad grins. Setting off on adventures together, where a few hours out of the house would often be as challenging (and thrilling) as voyaging to a foreign country.

My closeness to Gwen was different. Austin and I had been merry marauders; happy travellers, tripping out into the world together. Instead, Gwen and I became a unit. She spent her early months strapped to my chest while I fed, read to, danced with, nappy-changed and chastised her older brother. Whenever I glanced down, her solemn, pointed little face would be gazing up at me. Inspecting my every move. Smiling in response to my words. She barely cried; all she needed to do when she wanted milk was nuzzle her chin into my chest.

 

Today, at 17.01 precisely, Gwen will take a monumental step closer to becoming a woman, shaped by the people around her, and by her own spirit.

She is beautiful. And calm: through our long and stressful labour, her heartbeat never flickered. Her face lights up when we crouch down to play with her. She loves to dance, and wriggles her shoulders about in glee when I pick her up. She squawks when she spots flying birds. When a stranger speaks to her, she nestles her face into the safety of the closest shoulder: mine, the Daddy D’s, or Austin’s.

To all three of us, over the last year, she has grown to be the jigsaw piece we never knew was missing.

Happy first birthday, Gwendoline Joan.

A big thank you to everyone who helped get me shortlisted as a Fresh Voice in Britmums’ Brilliance in Blogging awards. I’m up against some stiff competition. To vote in the final, click on the badge on the right of this page.

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19 Comments

  1. Happy 1st birthday! What a special post. She is an absolute beauty and such a lovely nature! I hope she has the most wonderful day, surrounded by everyone who loves her so much. As first steps to womanhood go, she sounds like she’s doing perfectly!

  2. Anonymous

    Helen – this made me cry! I don’t have the soft touch with words you have but absolutely empathise with everything you say about the calmness and delight of a second baby – thank you for making me stop and think about it. Happy Birthday Gwen xxx Suzanne

  3. Catherine Prescott

    Such a gorgeous post – happy (belated) birthday to your lovely little girl! I often wonder how a second child might fit into our own little trio, but love the idea of ‘a jigsaw piece we never knew was missing’. Beautiful.

    • Thank you! I may have been helped towards the analogy by the fact that Austin is completely obsessed with jigsaws at the moment. All my frames of reference at the moment seem to be kids’ things!

  4. Beautiful, beautiful. So glad Victoria featured your blog on PoCoLo. I seem to write this a lot, but I got a bit teary reading this, as I feel just the same about my little girl – also a missing piece in our family jigsaw, now making us complete. How exciting to think that she is going to keep growing and developing and becoming her own little person more and more each day. Happy Birthday Gwen!

    • Thank you! It’s so funny to think that, before a second child comes along, you couldn’t imagine life with them…then all of a sudden, you couldn’t imagine your family without that extra little person. Glad you’re having a happy time with your own little girl.

  5. Vicki Montague

    Beautifully written blog! I came to your blog after finding out you won the blogfest holiday. I was tinged by jealousy but that has now disappeared! You more than deserve the trip!! Have a wonderful time and keep up the great writing! Now I have found you I will keep checking back here…

  6. Vicki Montague

    What a great and inspiring post! Congratulations on winning the blogfest holiday! I came here, jealously, to read your blog post and havent left yet! Fabulous writing! Have a great holiday…you deserve it.

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