On this day a year ago I spent the day making the most of the last day before everything changed. I got my hair and nails done. I wandered through one of London's quirkier shopping streets, and bought a few bits and bobs. Slippers for the hospital. A couple of pretty hand towels for our downstairs loo, anticipating a lot of visitors. Some soap, similarly. Toothpaste. Nipple cream. You wonder how I remember the inanities? I've been carrying the receipts in my wallet all year. In the change compartment, where I see them every day.
On this day a year ago I spent the late afternoon and evening baking and tidying. I made honey cakes, which need to rest before eating anyway, and put them up on top of the fridge, wrapped in foil, ready for visitors. I packed the baby's hospital bag. I packed mine. I made H pack his. I can't remember what we had for dinner, but I'm sure we ate something. I remember being up late, doing I don't know what. My mother told me to sleep while I could. I felt I was unlikely to sleep whether I went to bed or not.
On this day a year ago, Pob and I had yet to meet. We knew each other from a series of knocks and pulls and pushes, kicks and punches, strokes and conversations. But we'd never seen each other.
Tonight, I spent longer than usual rocking Pob after her last story. After I'd sung our few songs, she sang back to me a little, before lapsing back into silence. She squirmed a few times, squawked a few times, but mostly lay still in my arms, looking up at me, but her eyes fluttering shut from time to time. Dark eyes in the darkness. I whispered to her how I was feeling, how much I love her, how I didn't know this time a year ago what that would feel like. How I will always love her, even though she may not love me at times. As I lapsed into silence her eyes closed for a few seconds longer, and I decided it was time to put her down. I carried her over to her crib, laid her down, handed her her bunny and left the room.
I stood outside briefly to see if she'd settle. It all sounded good so I headed downstairs, but halfway down found I needed to sit down on the stairs, to pause for a moment to remember this time a year ago, walking down the stairs with her bag packed, ready to go to the hospital. Very unsure about what was to happen. Not knowing my daughter, still nervous that at the last minute she'd be taken away before I got to meet her. Not knowing what she was going to be like, what I was going to be like.
At 1407 the following day, that all changed.