Posts Tagged ‘Joost’

The Gift Of Life: Two Years On

On this date two years ago Nina was heavily pregnant with Joost. This new addition to our family had been expected to be born around the middle of December but he was clearly finding his accommodations inside Nina to be very comfortable and so was in no hurry to leave. By Christmas Eve he was nine days over due but as all was well so there was no concern, besides people worry far too much about “due dates”, this modern obsessiveness about dates has been brought about by over medicalisation of birth in paternalistic societies. Our first pregnancy had over run as well, with Mariaske arriving 21 days late. Nina was still charging about, helping with our holiday guests, seeing to our other three children and generally making every other women sick with just how easy she made pregnancy look ! We were all wondering if Christmas Day would be the day, but happily that particular cliche’ passed without incident.

Mama Nina met Joost

Mama Nina met Joost

As we got closer to the day the longing inside me to see my child seemed to become almost physical, a sort of morning sickness of the barren and unfulfilled. At that time every mother and child I saw was a simultaneous moment of exultation and despair. I don’t know why it is that we women feel such a deep need to create life from within inside ourselves, why we yearn for a time when our own flesh will bring us comfort, but I did feel it, most exquisitely. That’s an experience that most women, women with their own children , miss out on in life, the intensively female grief which accompanies the fear that through our baroness those little lives will never exist.

When Nina had been pregnant with Mariaske she had breezed along though it and I had been carried along in her wake without a worry in the world, but with Joost Throughout her pregnancy with Joost I could not stop watching Nina. I was much more tense, always feeling like I was holding my breath with thoughts of what could go wrong always in my mind. I was terrified that we was putting Nina at risk and for what, we had three lovely children already, my genes were nothing special ! However, I was scarred for this slim chance that I might, against all the odds, actually one day hold a child of my own.

Once a week on Friday nights our other children would have Mama ( “Nina is Mama, I am Moeder -Mother) stand in bra and panties against the measuring wall in their bedroom and carefully draw around her baby bump to mark the progress of our pregnancy. Outwardly I would be smiling and happy but inside I would be relieved that another week had safely passed for Nina and baby, my happiness coming from that.

 

It is strange how all this had come about. The reason Nina was having Joost because of of silly incident that resulted in me having a second intra-cranial bleed. This bleed had wrecked havoc on my visual cortex causing me many visual problems. It was while I was in hospital recovering from surgery for this that a blood test revealed that I might still have a functioning ovary. An ultra-sound scan confirmed that not only was one ovary still present healthy and functioning, but that eggs were present. No doubt they had been sustained over the last ten years by my cousin Tyjardia’s wonderful efforts with bio-identical hormones to keep me from dropping into early menopause following the loss of my uterus when I was twenty years old. On learning the scan results Nina had instantly demanded that those eggs be harvested and stored, she wanted them and as soon as humanly possible – who was I to object ! Five months later, and two rounds of IVF, a kind donation from our very good friend Nik and the eggs raided from my very own larder and she was pregnant with a child of mine. Ever since loosing my womb I had never dreamed that I might still see, hold and nurse a real child of my own, but now here I was holding my breath, drowning in the enormity of what she was doing for me.

 

During the day on News Years Eve we had gone out for lunch with friends at a restaurant on the Vrijhof. Normally at this restaurant Nina would order their baked fish but on this day she just settled for a light salad. I looked at her and she just smiled back and I knew, and she knew I knew, and for just a little while we shared that little time, a private little secret that her labor was just firing off its first little warm up shots as we sat in that lovely companionship with friends and family. We had hoped to get back home without any fuss from everyone else, but then someone observed that Nina was not eating much. Our excessively bright and sharp daughter Hilke stated that “Mama is not eating because baby is coming”. I was never sure if everyone stopped because of the content of her news, because of the calm way she had delivered the statement, or because of the looks on Nina and my face that she had known all along ! Then the dam burst and the questions flooded in as we tried to re-assure everyone that it was just the barest of first contractions and that our newest child was not about to be born there between desert and coffee !

 

As it turned out it was some twelve hours later after an uneventful labor that Joost finally slipped from Nina’s body. Joost arrived after surprisingly little effort and into my waiting hands in our bedroom, watched by our three children, our midwife Anna, two dogs and a cat. As a throughly satisfied Nina sat back I placed Joost onto her chest and as I did I could feel myself unwind a little inside. As my son lay there and rooted about for a nipple another part of me unwound, he was fine and showing normal behaviour. There was just the after birth to be delivered and we were safely there. As is our custom here everyone in the bedroom stayed quiet and just left birth mother and new baby to get acquainted until her body was ready to birth the placenta. I do not think I had ever been so unaware of my surroundings as I was then, my entire consciousness was there with them on my love’s breasts, over her thumping heart, and my son. I drank in every detail of him, desperate to know him, to imprint on me.

 

A little later while Nina and Anna attended to the afterbirth I held Joost for the first time. With my blouse off I held Joost to my naked skin so that he would get to know me as well. I have grown up holding babies, my mother was a doula for 40 years so I have handled babies for longer than I can remember. All our children are precious to me, adopted, birthed alike but right there and then I was holding this beautiful little soul whoes loss I had already grieved over some ten years before when told my womb was gone – I wanted to yell for joy for what I thought I had lost but now was here in my arms, and I wanted cry with relief that Nina and Joost were safe and well – caught between these two mountains of emotion I did the only thing I could do. I sat on the floor and asked his brother and two sisters the come and say hello.

Much later, alone and out of ear shot I wept and wept until purged and when I was done I went to our son’s cot, scooped him up and put him to my breast. While he suckled I put my face to his head and drank him in, trying to fix this new reality deeply in my mind.

So here I sit on one of the couches in our living room typing this. On the opposite couch my better half is asleep on her side with Joost tucked up ever so tightly against her and her arms enfolding him. Together like that the painting “Mother & Child II” by Gustav Klimt came into my mind. I want to reach over and catch that little run of dribble from the corner of Joost’s mouth and lightly push the hairs of Nina’s fringe that had fallen across her closed eyes, but I restrain myself

 

In a moment I am going to save this file, put the laptop down, slip over to the other couch, put my face to my son’s hair and drink in his lovely smell once again.

With all my grateful thanks to my Wife for this most wonderful of gifts.

Judith van der Roos.

31/12/2011.