The Skies I’m Under is my memoir about becoming a mum. It is all about the twists, turns and unexpected life I am living.
Here is a short extract from The Skies I’m Under.
Chapter 1 Birth
In the autumn of 2005, I woke in the middle of the night with a niggling sense of uncertainty. Unable to settle I slunk out of bed so as not to disturb my husband, Tim, and sat in the dark, newly decorated nursery. The faint orange streetlight illuminated our box room as I sat in silence. Surrounded by the aroma of freshly painted walls and sense of new, I felt cocooned by the stillness of the midnight hour.
The cot opposite was ready and waiting, with a brand new mobile dangling pale-coloured jungle creatures overhead. My hospital bag lay packed on freshly laid laminate flooring while a pine chest of drawers sat filled with sleep suits and socks that looked impossibly small.
Excitement had grown over recent weeks but a seed of fear now began to swell. I couldn’t feel my baby move. I tried to quash what I thought were the emotional, neurotic feelings of a hormonal, pregnant woman. Yet all I had recently seen in Uganda reminded me that a healthy baby does not necessarily follow pregnancy.
For the past year, I had worked as a nurse in Uganda and then New Zealand while Tim, practiced medicine alongside me. We spent the year testing out the possibility of our dream to live long-term in a developing country. The image of a young mum coming to the homely clinic in the city’s Namuwongo district of Kampala was fresh in my mind.
Wearing a long floral skirt and loose top, she arrived one bright morning and sat beside a friend in the neat reception area holding a bundle of baby blankets. The clinic was otherwise quiet, except for the humdrum of the street outside, and Tim immediately called the pair into the small consultation room. I sat in to observe and assist if necessary.
Her friend took control and placed a swaddled newborn girl on the treatment couch in the corner of the room. The mum tentatively sat on a chair opposite while her friend spoke of how the young woman had delivered her baby earlier in the day. They were concerned the baby was sick.
Tim examined the fragile creature. Sombrely he raised his stethoscope to his ears and placed it tenderly on the baby’s chest. Moments passed slowly before he lifted his head and began to speak in low, soft tones. He explained the baby girl wasn’t sick but had died. The muggy African heat felt suddenly oppressive as I involuntarily inhaled a sharp intake of breath. The stunned look on the young woman’s face was permanently imprinted in my mind. She sagged under the weight of the news as grief swamped her slight frame.
Unceremoniously the friend lifted the baby’s limp body, carried it back across the reception area and out the door. The young mum nodded her head in gratitude, and gingerly shuffled outside. Grief stricken, she followed her dead baby into the dusty Kampala streets.
My mind reeled with memories as I held my silent belly and gazed at the shadows our baby’s mobile etched on the yellow wall behind the cot. Tears began to fall as I remembered my university days. My housemate Nneka had lived through the grief of losing her younger sister and in the months after she played the song Kiss the son by Kevin Prosch over and over again. I recalled its lyrics of praise amidst heartbreak, brokenness and pain.
Within the vacuum of the night, the song reverberated in my head. Like a mantra I replayed the refrain:
‘Though you slay me I will trust you Lord.’
I choked out the words, as tears tripped my lips and an internal battle raged.
Was there something wrong with my baby?
Was I being irrational?
I decided my fear was greater than the facts as I had felt my baby throughout the previous day. After an unknown amount of time, I gathered my emotions and returned to bed. Climbing under the covers I allowed my cold feet to surreptitiously wake Tim.
The Skies I’m Under is available to buy from Amazon.