‘Second Day’

That blood crusted crown, soft bone plates, pushed by birthing into cone-like shape.
The arbitrary beeping and calling throughout the ward; the scuffling of nurses shoes
announce their arrival –
I often pretended to be asleep when they peeked through the door from the corridor,
except when I didn’t, when I waved one in, or flagged one down in passing
as I pointed to my screaming baby in his plastic cradle on wheels,
“He’s still hungry and I’ve nothing left to give.”

I remember one nurse bringing the bottle of formula:
she stood not facing me, but to the side, as if to deflect
a perceived defeat
I might have been projecting.
She jutted out her arm, from a distance, and handed it over.

Kind words may have been said, I do not recall.
And body language is hard to dispute,
As is the silence of a finally full baby
and the relief this brings; a clearing of air.
So in retrospect, I harbour no ill-feelings:
I’d had another child before and knew this was only the second day.
My milk was still on its way, as are rainstorms conjured
out of pressure and warmth,
and I would make it through.

But other mothers are not as lucky, and I can only imagine
how they must feel.
Which is a shame, to be made to feel anything
other than extraordinary.

For International Women’s Day.


Karen Andrews is the creator of this website, one of the most established and well-respected parenting blogs in the country. She is also an author, award-winning writer, poet, editor and publisher at Miscellaneous Press. Her latest book is Crying in the Car: Reflections on Life and Motherhood.