Hello. My name is Naomi. I’m 36-years-old and, with the exception of the three years I lived in England in my early 20s, I’ve lived in Toowoomba for the past 25 years.
I’m a writer, a traveler and a fiercely loyal friend. I spent the early part of my thirties curating my world. I cultivated the friendships that provide joy and support. I enhanced my career skills through further study. I worked and saved hard to purchase a home here in Toowoomba, a town that is growing and thriving. I met a man whom I love and who makes me smile while loving me for all my quirks.
I was happy with who I was, and I thought I knew who I wanted to be.
Then, five months ago, I was blessed with a completely incredible new title – mother. Suddenly I didn’t know if ‘wanting to be’ meant that I could be who I needed to be.
When we started planning for our little miracle, we knew life that could be unpredictable. I was learning to accept it is impossible to plan for anything and everything (believe me, I’ve tried). I continued to try to be organised with the aid of research, lists and schedules. Let me tell you now, no amount of planning or research could have prepared me for being pregnant during a global pandemic.
Thankfully, Toowoomba wasn’t hit too hard with active cases. However, the Queensland social-distancing restrictions made things very isolating (which I know was the point but when your pregnancy hormones are surging and you want to hug your Mum or your best friend and you can’t, it compounds the emotional toll).
Medically I didn’t have the easiest pregnancy towards the end, or an uncomplicated delivery, but it all faded into the background when our midwife placed our 5lb 14oz (2680g) bundle of love and possibilities onto my chest.
The birth of our precious baby daughter Zara opened my eyes, and heart, to a whole new world.
Looking down at her perfect little body I had never felt so euphoric, yet so terrified, in my entire life. I was in complete awe of what the female body can create (and honestly, five months later, I still am). Ten long fingers, a little button nose, rosebud lips. The strength and instincts of a newborn baby are a phenomenon to witness. She is ours and we are hers. I knew in that moment there is nothing within my power I wouldn’t do to keep Zara safe, to make her smile, to let her know she is loved. What terrified me then, and still does, is will I always be able to?
Those first few days in hospital are a blur of feeding, sleeping and cuddles. Due to the Covid-19 restrictions we weren’t able to have visitors, so Zara and I spent a lot of time skin-to-skin, breathing each other in and strengthening our bond.
What I do remember clearly however, is waking up after my first post-birth sleep and thinking how different everything looked and felt. Colours appeared more vivid. Sounds were crisper. My heart was beating bigger and felt fuller.
It also felt like the world outside the Toowoomba Base Hospital had changed. Its possibilities were more exciting, yet scary. I want Zara to experience so much of what our city, then our region, and then the world has to offer – different cultures, exotic foods, epic sights, the beauty of nature. I just want her to do those things where I can see her. Just kidding! With me by her side will be fine. Again, just kidding!
While I want to be there to show and share the world with her, I also want Zara to be independent, curious, bold, strong and confident. (Note: I think she already has the strong thing sorted. Zara’s determination and tenacity for something she wants is both hilarious, when its coming from someone so small, and also impressive.)
Since bringing our baby girl home I’ve watching her grow and blossom faster than I could have imagined. During this time my new view of the world has not only remained, it has developed a new angle. I’ve discovered another whole new world by seeing what Zara sees.
A few weeks ago, we went for Mother’s Group in Laurel Bank Park. When it had finished, we were walking back towards the car when I stopped at a bench to rest. After a few minutes, I looked over at Zara and saw she was mesmerised by a tree above her pram. So, I sat on the ground next to the pram and followed her line of sight. The light was filtering through the trees creating shards and beams of light as the wind made the leaves flicker and sway. I noticed shades of green I’d never appreciated before. I felt the warmth of the sun more deeply. It was truly beautiful.
Since then, whenever I see Zara’s eyes focus on something, I stop to really look at, and appreciate, the colours and shapes, wondering if she is seeing them for the first time and curious as to what she thinks of them.
I’ve always loved the rain. I know how essential and valuable it is to our region. It’s amazing how it washes away the tired, refreshing the earth and revitalising life. These days, when it starts to rain, I grab one of Zara’s knitted blankets (made lovingly by her Mama) and take her out onto our back patio. I bundle her up and cuddle her tight while she sits on my lap and we watch the rain soak the ground, listening as it creates a symphony on the corrugated iron roof. It’s a peaceful, connected moment for us. It’s also becoming a very treasured ritual that adds another facet to my love of the rain.
In this way, and in so many others, Zara is enhancing my world. Every week, we are exploring different places in Toowoomba, seeing (and in my case re-seeing) the sights and places that make this town so unique. While we are on our adventures, people are constantly smiling back at Zara’s beaming face and it warms my heart to see a simple smile is still so freely given.
As she grows (and becomes more mobile), I can’t wait to venture out into the Darling Downs region as a family. There is so much diversity in the landscapes, people, flora and fauna. It’s ready for us locals to get out and experience it, with a new perspective, excitement and appreciation for where we live. So that’s just what we’re going to do.