My two year old has decided that tonight we need to lie on the floor. Not in her bed as we usually do, cuddled up for that last breastfeed of the day as she drifts slowly off to sleep, but on the floor. In the middle of her bedroom.
She points at the ceiling and declares that she can see “egg mummy egg”, then rolls towards me and wraps her arms around my neck. I smile, and inwardly chuckle as she presses her face against mine, only to look up and realise that, yes, she is right, the shadow of her lightshade is indeed egg shaped.
She’s clearly not in the bedtime mood right now, as the requests are coming thick and fast.
“big girl cup”
“wait there mummy.”
She’s cupped up. No more excuses. We move into her bed and attempt to snuggle down. “sing songs from Annie Mummy, tomorrow mummy.”
“twinkle twinkle mummy”
“sing yoghurt and mnanas mummy”
She points at the feet of her fairy dolls as they poke out over the edge of the shelf, “six, seven, eight, nine, ten! I did it!”
I squeeze her tight. So proud of the forthright and independent toddler she has become.
And suddenly, it comes.
I am hit by a wave of emotions.
The last two years have flown, and yet been the most fulfilling of my life. But equally full of hurt. One by one the pains of the years play out in my head, starting with events from earlier this year, heading back to the first few moments of her life.
The ectopic pregnancy.
The lost baby.
The lost baby sister or brother for my perfect toddler.
The threat of methotrexate and the fear of early weaning from the breast.
The guilt of returning to work.
The anxiety at leaving my baby.
The lost time.
The mistakes I made that I can never undo.
The early breastfeeding pain.
My failure at labour.
My inability to stop crying for the first 8 months of her life.
They run on, over and over in my head, cycling round and catching me harder each time, an unforgiving whirlpool of tears.
Then I look down.
She’s latched onto my breast and she’s feeding. She’s holding me as tightly as I am her. And I realise.
None of it matters. Not anymore.
What matters now is the child in my arms. The way that my breath makes her hair move, the heartbeat I can feel against my tummy.
And the love that consumes us both.