When another year reaches its end, some of us like to look ahead, perhaps plan a few resolutions and shifts in our lives, while others reflect on what has happened. Or maybe you are someone who likes to do a bit of both?
I can not help but focus on the latter, as 2023 was without any doubt the most transformational, emotional and humbling year of my life.
But to understand the highlights of 2023:), we need to first look into…
I am sitting on a small carpet in the middle of our apartment in Porto. We have no water, no electricity, and we have just swiped the floor with cold water from the garage pipe. The air humidity is 95% and the floor has been wet for hours. It probably won’t dry at all. There are boxes everywhere, as the Ikea delivery arrived on time. Luckily they came while there was still daylight which is something we can’t say for the electrician 🙈. Antonio is vigorously assembling a bed in the bedroom so we have something to sleep on tonight. As I continue sitting on the carpet, the only dry spot in the house, my stomach twists and turns. I am 11 weeks pregnant.
We are in Porto again. It’s cold, sunny, and I am energised like a battery. Food tastes great once more! I finally don’t feel like a tourist, and it feels cozy to call another place home. We walk tons every day, eat fish and homemade fries, watch the local rooftop cat gang ( there is a three-legged kitty that runs it all) and life is good. There can never be too many pasteis de nata from Manteigaria in one’s belly. Speaking of belly – mine is almost impossible to hide now.
Porto is a city of sunsets, ocean air and hidden magic. I tear up twice during our time here. Once when I gaze into the wild waves beating at the shore and I promise my son that I will love and protect him no matter what, and when we drive to the airport. The third trimester is coming and it’s time to nest back “home”.
We are watching a little alien in 3D at the clinic and he loves to put his tiny hands in front of his face. He plays with the umbilical cord which makes everyone giggle and eventually he shows his face. I was afraid it would be creepy, but he looks so cute (and so like his Dad). I still feel like I am dreaming.
I am asking my colleagues if they want to join me for lunch and they all look very secretive, suspicious and out of time. I can tell they are scheming and I am already nervous. When I come back from lunch, they ambush me with cakes, fresh pasteis de nata, balloons, bubble blower and gifts that make me cry like a river. They put together a memory photo book with a AI generated picture of me and my cat in a fantasy world with a reference to the best fantasy story ever? What is life!? I hug each and every one of them tight, sad to leave a job that I immensely enjoy and people that inspire me behind.
It’s Tuesday morning and we are walking to the hospital to have my birth induced. Antonio is a few steps in front of me, carrying my bag. I have an intense feeling of being right here, right now, a feeling so clear I am certain I will never forget it. I know I am mere moments away from my old life being over. It’s the last time I slept through the night. I snap a picture.
It’s Thursday morning and I hold my son in my arms. It was tough for both of us, and the end got everyone pretty worried, but we made it. There will be a lot of stitches, a bit of depression, but all I care about are his tiny little hands and side chops😀
The word pain has a new meaning, as I realise I have never really known it until now. My respect for everyone who went through labor is sky high. Moms are heroes, and that is just the beginning. I feel empowered, and also half dead.
Somewhere between summer and winter of 2023
Motherhood is the hardest and most beautiful thing, both at the same time. Days blend into each other, separated into feeding, sleeping, changing and adrenalin trips with a stroller. Baby carrier saves all😀
The things I used to find silly, like someone rambling on how their baby unlocked a new skill is suddenly the utmost importance. When Sammy rolls onto his belly for the first time, I screech and we high five. Tough days usually mean a “software update” and it is beyond exciting to observe the new skills, loud laughter and cheeky giggles.
What a year, what a year! Now let me pack my bag to Porto. Its time to show those sunsets to someone new:)