A year ago today I was standing in front of the Mona Lisa in the Louvre museum in Paris with my daughter, speaking to my ex-partner (my daughter’s father) via FB Messenger, reassuring him and telling him to take deep breaths, to trust the doctors, and to have faith.
He was about to witness the tricky, verging-on-emergency birth of his first son with his new partner.
As I messaged frantically, sending good thoughts, breathing deeply along with him, tourist throngs parted impatiently around me, craning over me to click La Joconde as selfie sticks politely battled.
My daughter stood close to my shoulder, eyes wide.
“Will he be OK?”
“Yes, baby. I have complete faith he will be OK.”
And he was. After 40 minutes or so my phone pinged and the photo landed: a crunched, screaming, nakedly new human, fists punching the air and shoulders high as if shrugging with an impossible question. He looked so like my daughter when she was born that I gasped. By now we were in the Egyptian Hall. We cried and hugged, surrounded by mummies. It seemed apt.
To say getting to this point had been difficult was an understatement, for reasons I don’t care to rehash here. And now this little boy, my daughter’s brother, was in my ex-partner’s arms and heart. As my daughter stared over and over at her new little brother on the screen, her face a study of wonder and fear and joy and recognition all in one, the path was clear. I was going to welcome him into my heart and into our endearingly strange modern family arrangement, and that was that.
A year on, to say he is a delight would, again, be an understatement. He now knows me and snuggles into my neck. He smells like peaches. He reaches for me with his delicious arms and tiptoes around my couches on feet ridiculously round and chubby. Every day he looks more and more like his sister, who is madly, completely, juicily in love with him.
Happy First Birthday to our little unexpected treasure. Here is a poem for you.
RA: 4h29m34.77s DEC: +15⁰54’09.4″
How to welcome you?
How to tell you how loved you are, how vast also the universe?
As you struggled into the world we were on the other side of it.
As your first day began, your life dawning with a drizzly Auckland morning,
we lay our heads on Parisian pillows
and whispered of you, holding hands and smiling through the dark
at the intense, foreign thrill of it.
Your name inscribes itself on the backdrop of forever.
The stars stretch, the planets spin, the moons circle and satellite, etching perfect arcs.
We blink, incredulous, at the same sun, and love eclipses all distance.
I named a star for you. It is 150.37 light years away.
We will teach you, when you are able, to look at the stars and believe that they are kind.