When I was younger I had a doll called Jessica. She didn't really look like a baby doll, more like a toddler one, she had long blond hair and I used to brush it for hours and put clips in it and make it into a plait. I would make my Mum buy her clothes from Mothercare, and I would constantly change her outfits and make her look pretty. I was quite old by this point, probably around eleven, and probably a little too old to be playing with dolls, but I loved Jessica and being her 'Mummy.'
Looking back I wanted to be a Mummy from a very early age, I definitely had that maternal instinct. My sister is ten years younger than me, and I used to constantly mother her, I loved changing her nappy and showing her off to all my friends. I dreamt of having a little family of my own one day. As I got older I always thought I would wait until my thirties to have children, I went to university, got drunk most nights and partied hard in my early twenties- life was one big adventure and I wanted to work hard and party harder.
But life doesn't always go the way you think it will and fate often has other plans for you. I walked into a bar one day, got a job as a part time bartender and promptly fell in love with the most wonderful man.
And just like that life changed. Not instantly, we still had a good few years of living the high life in Leeds and in London. But then we moved back to Cambridgeshire and slowly it all started to fall into place. Engagements, Marriages, Mortgages. We got married in December 2009 and went on honeymoon to Mexico. Just like that it hit me. I wanted a baby. To start a family with my new husband. I felt such a deep desire for a baby all of a sudden that it was almost overwhelming.
And we got lucky. We fell pregnant pretty quickly. We saw a little heartbeat flickering away on an ultrasound screen, my belly grew, our spare room became a nursery. We found out we were having a girl and I sobbed like a baby. Those long nine months waiting and waiting, cherishing every kick and waiting for our little girl to arrive. I liked being pregnant but I worried and I just wanted our bundle here safe.
And on that cold Friday Christmas Eve morning in 2010 our lives changed forever.
A baby girl. My daughter.
I lay on the bed in that operating theatre, the room awash with surgeons and supporting staff and I willed my little girl to cry. My heart was pounding so hard I thought it was going to explode. I gripped Mr E's hand so tight and prayed with every single fibre of my being that my baby would be born safe.
And she was.
Oh to go back to that moment again. That indescribable, overwhelming and euphoric moment when I heard Mads first cry. Here she was. That baby that I had dreamt about for many many years, before I even realised that I wanted her.
I was a Mummy. I was her Mummy.
Because I had a c-section I had to wait. Wait for them to check her over, watch my husband cuddle her and report back to me what was going on.
Then just like that they handed her to me.
How do you describe that feeling to someone? To someone who isn't a mother?
You just fall in love. But not just lightly. You fall in love hard. When you reach out your arms and take your child for the first time, the love you have is overwhelming. And terrifying.
The love you have for this little person staring back at you with their blink blink blinking black eyes takes your breath away. In one small second you realise what it feels like to experience unconditional love. To realise you would die for someone else, to realise that life will never be the same again, life will be incredible, life will be downright scary and life will be all that and more.
I fell in love hard on that cold winters morning and I thought that no one could capture my heart in the way that Mads arrived into the world and stole it in a millisecond.
But they could.
Two weeks ago, we were in the same hospital, in the same delivery ward and those anxious thoughts came back. Will everything be ok? Will she cry? Will she have ten perfect fingers and ten perfect toes? The same hospital I was born in twenty eight years before, my Mum lying in an operating theatre exactly the same as I was, albeit with scarier circumstances as she had serious preeclampsia. It is incredibly poignant to me that my babies were born in the same place I was.
We all took our first breathes in the world in the same place. On the start of our journeys.
And I gripped Mr E's hand tight again, the familiar 'boom boom boom' of my heart racing in my chest. Waiting. Wishing. Praying. Studying every single detail of the theatre staffs faces to check if they looked worried. Willing them to hurry up so I could hear that sound again. It took longer and it wasn't quite as relaxing but then just like that I heard it.
Her first breaths in the world. My second daughter.
The one I had been waiting for.
The one to complete our family. The tears fell down my face and I couldn't stop them. She was here.
They pulled her out, all gunky and bloody and took her to check her over. Again I watched Mr E cuddle her and then it was my turn. I got to hold my second baby.
And I fell in love hard once again. The heart I thought didn't have room for any more love, just like that, expanded and let our little lady in.
We stared at each other, those same blink blink blinking black eyes, and we fell in love, my second daughter and I.
We stared at each other, sussed each other out, and silently bonded in that busy operating theatre. There was at least six people busily rushing around, but I didn't notice anyone. Not even my husband.
Just her. And me. My Daughter. Her Mummy.
It was a different kind of feeling to the one I felt with Mads. I fell in love with her instantly but it was all new. The feelings, the emotions, being a Mummy. But with our little lady, it was just overwhelming. I knew what I was doing, and I knew she was the missing piece in the jigsaw. The final piece to complete our family.
The feeling of holding another one of my babies for the first time.
How I wish I could go back and relive those moments over and over again. Bottle it up, and whenever I find motherhood or life stressful or tough, I could open it up and relive how it felt to become a Mummy to these two little people?
That incredible and overwhelming love that takes your breath away.
With our second little lady, the feeling was even more intense. It was the last time I will experience that incredible moment. Our family is complete. Never say never, but we are almost 99% positive that we are blessed and lucky, and that two beautiful girls is more than enough for us.
It is time to pass the pregnancy baton to someone else and let them experience that rush of love.
That feeling of becoming a Mummy. That feeling that everything you have done in your life, however rewarding, up to this point, just doesn't matter. That this is your proudest moment.
My heart is raw, and full of emotions when I think that my days of lying in a hospital theatre room and waiting for that first precious cry are over. Not in a sad way, more of a poignant, bittersweet way. And now I get to experience lots of different adventures along the way.
Growing, learning and loving as a family of four.
That this is just the beginning of our story.
My two little girls who have changed my life and made me a better person.
And who gave me those most incredible moments that I will cherish forever.
The moments when I first held my babies.