We jumped when the doorbell rang. It was that time between Christmas and New Year when no one is around much anyway, but unexpectedly thick snow had cut us off from everyone and we had been on our own for two days. I remember your huge smile and bright red cheeks showing from underneath the furry hood of your parka as you stamped the thick snow off your maroon Doc Martens on to the doormat.
It was early afternoon, but I was still half-dressed, a state I had been in for the past five days. I would pull on my maternity leggings in the morning because nothing else fitted me and never get any further. My husband was holding our newborn daughter, who was screaming at the top of her voice, something else that seemed to have been happening for the past five days.
“I made it,” you said in your strong German accent, as you laughed and shrugged off your coat, warming your freezing hands on the radiator before asking to take the baby. I followed you upstairs. As you undressed our baby to weigh her, you asked me how I was. I brushed off the question and said I was fine, but I wasn’t and I knew you didn’t believe me. You changed the subject and told me about your German winters, how you were used to this kind of weather, about your own children and how beautiful and special my Christmas Eve baby was.
As I watched you handle my newborn daughter so tenderly and confidently, I began to cry and it all came tumbling out. My milk hadn’t come in and I was so afraid that I wasn’t nourishing my child properly that I wasn’t doing anything properly.
My mother died when I was 12, still just a child, and after my own child was born, I had been hit by a wave of unexpected grief and longed for her to be with me now. You told me it was normal to feel this way, that I was tired and anxious as all new mothers are. You drew the curtains on the unearthly snowy light and asked me to get into my bed for a while.
As I lay there, I watched you rock my baby as you sang to her. Within moments, she was asleep and you laid her down in her cot. I expected you to leave then, but instead you came and sat down on the edge of the bed beside me, put your warm hand on my back and sang to me too, a soft German lullaby. I cried some more and then I fell asleep.
When I woke up, you had gone. It was dark outside, my baby slept on and my milk had come in. Over the next few days the snow disappeared and other kind community midwives came by to check on how we were doing, but we never saw you again.
I never got the chance to thank you, to tell you that your tender nurturing and motherly kindness towards me that snowy afternoon, as one woman to another, albeit total strangers, was the catalyst that enabled me to cross that invisible line – the rite of passage that helped me to become a mother myself.
Our daughter will be 20 on Christmas Eve and I have thought of you with gratitude every Christmas since she was born.[Source:-the gurdian]