I spent four days in hospital after giving birth, relatively alone and terrified. The first night I was left alone with this tiny baby, it was dark and I was sobbing because I couldn’t remember how to wrap a nappy and everytime I picked her up, the bit of cloth that I had carefully pinned, kept falling straight to the floor. There are simply no words I could write to truly convey my complete feeling of inadequacy. Fortunately, a nurse doing rounds found me, had her all wrapped up in seconds, (making me feel even more useless), and continued on her way, completely oblivious to how fragile I was.
When I think back to this time, it is easy to understand how new parents can be left feeling completely overwhelmed. No amount of books or Lamaze classes can prepare you for the 100% care of a tiny human being.
My tiny human being weighed just six pounds when she was born, but was an impressive 51cms long. She had olive skin and a head of jet black hair. You may be wondering how I can refer to my child as “she” “her” or as the poor nurses kept calling her, “this little mite,” but the reality was, for three of the four days I was in hospital, my daughter had no name.
Aside from the first night, I did manage to find my feet and learnt how to wrap a nappy and feed her without issue. I can remember being incredibly hungry, ALL THE TIME. Here I was, with this alien being sucking the life out of me and there wasn’t enough food to make up for it. One night I actually stalked the halls, trying to find a biscuit, some fruit, anything to eat. I dread to think how I would have behaved had I come across a tray of food in someone else’s room!
So, here I was, three days in and still no name for my daughter. It’s a strange thing to not have considered this before giving birth, but I just didn’t have anything that had stuck. If you can imagine all those movies where the elderly Aunts ask a couple constantly when they might hear the pitter patter of feet, that is exactly what I endured from the nurses everytime they came in to do a check. I almost started saying “no” as they came in to pre-empt the, “do we have a name for the little mite yet?” query.
Finally, I was sitting in the hospital bed, reading THE books of the time – Diana Gabaldon’s Cross Stitch series, which became the hugely popular TV series Outlander. (I always knew the books would make a great TV show!) Anyway, I read of Claire giving birth to her child with Jamie and naming their daughter ‘Brianna.’
The name rolled around in my head. I stared at my daughter lying asleep in her crib and could see the name on her. I tried to go back to reading, but I couldn’t. The words kept disappearing off the page and all I could see was the word Brianna. Somehow, I hadn’t chosen her name, her name had been chosen for her. Brianna is of Irish origin, meaning Strong. How little did I know exactly how perfect her name was for her.
I picked up my daughter and whispered the words, “Hello Brianna.”
We were ready to meet the world.