Letter To Anouk
Prelude: This is me 8.5 months pregnant with my second child, Anouk. I set up the camera on the chest of draws and hit the self timer. It was around this time I was asked by my friend Catherine Mack to write something for her beautiful Podcast 'Nightlight'. I stalled and stalled and procrastinated and procrastinated. Eventually I sat down and wrote a letter to my unborn daughter. I had no idea what I wanted to say. But as soon as I started typing it was as if I knew EXACTLY what I wanted to say. Pregnancy with her had been monumentally difficult, so I guess I was writing to myself as much as I was writing to her. And I guess in writing to myself, I was also writing to you, to others, to anyone who has ever been born. If you'd like to listen to the audio version, please check it out on the 'Nightlight' Podcast (series 1) or on the Spotify link below. :)
I hope you get something from it.. aside from a peek at my semi-naked pregnant body. Which, by the way, I loved, but certainly don't miss.
We haven’t met yet, but I wanted to take the opportunity to tell you a few things about life, before life gets in the road.
Right now, you aren’t even born. All you know is the familiar sound of my heartbeat, some muffled sounds of me and your father chatting and your big brother… squawking, crying, demanding.
I’d love to say that this is a letter with all the answers you’ll need in life. But, it’s um, more of… more of a heads up, a what to expect and how to prepare. A little bit like, what a general might say to his troop of men before war. "Prepare yourself for battle. It’s tough out there. Best case you’ll lose a leg, worst case you’ll die". Good news is, this is life, not war, and everyone dies, so you’re not alone. Bad news is, Life is much more complicated than war and a complete mystery to us all. If anyone tries to tell you they have it worked out, smile politely, but know they are lying.
Life is complicated, messy and confusing and us humans, we aren’t good at that. We like order and straight lines and problems that can be solved. We don’t like lose or frayed ends, or feelings that can’t be summed up by words. In fact, we are so uncomfortable with the uncomfortable, that it’s easier to pretend things are good. And then the pretending becomes what we get used to and we spend our time chasing, wishing, hoping, running, seeking, searching... getting further and further away from… from what we all are born with. Our spirit. Our deep knowing of self. And I don’t mean that in a… hippy woo woo way. I just mean, it’s easy to forget who you are, among 7 billion others. So in some ways I guess life is about losing yourself and then finding yourself again. Hopefully before you die.
Am I making any sense? I guess want I want you know, more than your alphabet or times tables (you’ll learn those in this thing called school), is that you have everything you need… right now. Who you are right now, inside my womb, that’s the purest you you’ll ever be. Before you make your way out into the big wide world.
The big wide world. It’s loud and bright…. And although you’ll recognise my voice, it’ll feel very unsafe for a few months with these weird new people who call themselves your mum and dad. I have milk for you, upon arrival, and that’ll help. And you’ll still be able to hear my heartbeat, though it’ll sound a little different because now you’ll be on the outside. And eventually you’ll forget where you came from: that warm, dark cave you grew in, from something so small you’d need a microscope you see yourself. And out of billions of others just as small, you managed to find your way, in the dark, to my egg, before everyone else. That’s what us humans call, winning. You’ll learn about that. And it’s not so fun twin, Losing. Also known as failure. Which you’ll no doubt run into.
Us humans like to compare ourselves to others in all sorts of ways. I’d like to say try not to worry about that so much, but… you will. It’s unavoidable. Plus, losing has it’s perks too. It hurts in the moment but I can tell you from experience, it has a funny way of moving us in the right direction. Trust. If there’s one word I could tell you to value in the human language, it’d be trust. And people will tell you that’s terrible advice and they might be right because trust can lead to computers getting stolen and heartbreak and political disillusionment and unrealistic expectations. BUT, life is pointless without trust. Love is pointless without trust. Without trust we become cynical and hard and bitter and unforgiving and angry. I’m not saying trust every person you meet, I’m saying trust yourself, trust your instinct. Trust your spirit. It will always show you the way to go. We like to over-complicate things, us humans, but it really is pretty simple. You’re born, you fill in a whole lot of time and you die.
And that time is made up of choices. Some you don’t get to choose, but most you do. Don’t forget that. You are the captain of your ship, my little girl. When the waters get choppy, (and they will, we don’t control the weather), you hold the wheel, you hold the compass, you guide your boat, you decide where to go.
I’ll be there, on my boat. Watching you. Loving you. Trying my hardest not to interfere too much. As hard as that will be sometimes.
Enjoy your life. All the nooks and crannies. See you soon.
Anouk Rae Gooding. Born 16th of Feb 2021.