I marvel at our daughter, a mix of both her father and me. These little creations occur daily, hourly, by the minute all over the world and yet now I realise their impact and the beauty of new life.
I have been struck by my love for her, and my selflessness, like all mothers, in caring and feeding her. The tears I have are because of this love, not the dark circles under eye and the dreams of sleeping, soon.
Babies really love to smile, there’s no self-consciousness or fear that someone is not going to smile back, they just keep smiling like a reflex to an often harsh world. Ella’s first smile was with her eyes. As the doctor held her up and placed her snuggly on my chest, our new daughter scoured the delivery suite to find me, eyes wide and clear saying hello Mummy.
I write this blog from Morocco as baby Ella sleeps on the bed, arms in the ‘I surrender’ position, surrendering to the sleep. She was born in Northern Ireland three months ago, immunised for TB when just one day old in preparation for her African adventure.
At her first set of routine immunisations, I cried wishing it could be me, not her, having three needles forced into her thigh muscle-yes everything becomes more dramatic when it’s your own child, your own flesh and blood. Perhaps I felt I alone.
As a family doctor, I’ve given numerous babies these vaccinations before. My first experience was working in the out-back of Australia doing country-relief, for a GP who was going on his family holiday. Eidsvold was the town, visited also by prince Charles some years before. I was their doctor for three weeks after only two years working as a junior-doctor. The kind receptionist in the surgery told me that the usual doctor gave the injections in the upper thigh, so I did the same; I remember nothing about the babies crying or the mother’s faces.
Ella’s daddy is finishing work here in Marrakech. We arrived just a few weeks ago, after three months of doing an often solitary stint as a ‘single-mother’. I say we love it here yet there are things I do not like as a women. Before Ella, walking on the street alone was a different and sometimes uncomfortable experience. Now I see the real warmth of it’s people. Morocco welcomes children like no-other. Even little children, boys and girls, gently greet Ella with a kiss on the cheek. Strangers on the street help me lift her Pram up the high uneven curbs side-walks always taking the time to look over her and say hello. At every queue In the airport, the staff put us to front, chatting to Ella like their own child, calming her if she cried.
Before travelling here, I checked with a friend, who is a paediatrician, about Ella’s risk of TB and other more common infectious diseases. He pointed out that the risk of communicable disease is related to ones environment or living conditions. We have been in an air-conditioned apartment for the last 3 weeks and the kids down in the courtyard have only meet her twice, so the risk is low.
Despite her safe surroundings I have the numbers for the ambulance, and a local family doctor to hand. My poor French has been injected with the necessary vocabulary in case of an emergency. And of course, there are English-speaking specialists if needed.
As our time here is coming to an end, I feel fortunate to have made the journey back before saying farewell. I hope that we can return when Ella is older, to enjoy the sounds of the Medina, the call to prayer as the sun sets, the brushed sands of the Sahara desert and the clean mountain air of the Atlas. But for now we are homeward bound once Jason’s passport arrives. Here, the time lines blur in the hot sun and two weeks becomes four. It’s a waiting game, but hopefully not for much longer, Insha’Allah.