Our daughter, Matilda Jane McCarthy, arrived safely into the world at 1:51am on 8 August, 2021, a week before her due date.

She weighed 6lbs 14oz, and is perfect in every single way.

I’m not going to write in detail about how the birth went. This is because a) it didn’t really go to plan, and b) I feel that there are some parts of my life that I want to keep private and special. But I will say that I ended up labouring for about 32 hours, and that we had to have some help at the end which meant I didn’t get the birthing pool delivery that I wanted. Both Matilda and I were exhausted, so it was either accept help or put both her and myself at risk. I think I made the right decision but since then I’ve been struggling a lot with feelings of regret, guilt and sadness. This is on top of caring for a newborn and trying to give myself space to heal physically, so my postnatal experience has so far been pretty tiring.

Happily, I can say this – both R and M have been amazing. R has proven to be the most natural father, and he was a rock the whole time I was in labour. I couldn’t have done it without him. And our daughter is everything we could have wanted and more. She is so beautiful that I can’t quite believe that we made her. We’ve spent ages pouring over every little detail of her person. There’s so much of R in her – she has his ears, his eyes, his long limbs and toes and fingers. She has my nose and lips, but apparently it takes a while for the mother’s features to come out as prominently as the father’s, so I’m hoping over time I’ll see more of myself in her. And she has our blue eyes, of course, which I think are likely to stay blue as she grows older, and an almost-full head of dark, slightly wavy hair. She smells like warm milk and makes little panting, snuffling noises when she’s hungry. She was made to be loved.

I had to stay overnight in the hospital, so 2 nights total given that I was labouring through Saturday night. It was actually quite nice to be in there and have support from the midwives, particularly as I was still partly in shock from having had an unplanned birth experience. And Matilda needed a bit of time to get up to speed with breastfeeding, so having a bit of additional support with that was really useful. We did try to go home on Sunday, but several emergencies elsewhere in the hospital meant that there wasn’t a doctor available to do Tilda’s head-to-toe examination. So we stayed another night while R went home to sleep, then brought our daughter home on Monday afternoon.

It’s now the evening of day 2 of Matilda being in the world and I’ve finally found a bit of time and space to write this blog post. I imagine I will have even less time to write going forward, but I’m also keeping a personal journal so I don’t forget any of the experiences my family has together as we navigate these first few precious days, weeks and months together. I don’t want to forget a thing, and I also want Matilda to have a narrative of her life that extends beyond what she’s personally able to remember. Some of my journalling may make it onto this blog, but I suspect the majority of it will remain private – a first gift from mother to daughter.