I thought I'd have more time on maternity leave.

Time to do things for myself - to pursue hobbies and passions, to learn a language or a craft, perhaps hone my professional skills. To write letters, keep a diary, compose the odd blog here and there. Like a gap year with a baby in tow.

Bombshell - I had a baby instead.

I had no idea that it would be quite as all consuming as it has been. Wonderful highs of first smiles and giggles, games and adventures, milestones and monthly weigh ins. Weeping lows of bumped heads, separate beds, hair loss and sleep deprivation.

It's been incredible, of course, but hard too. I was not prepared for just how hard - and on that note, humbling - it would be. I've been gathering a few thoughts - as jumbled as they are - on the last few months...

I find myself... breathing in, a giddy rush of love, over good times and happy moments. 'These are the days' I tell myself, filled with joy and gratitude, followed by the inevitable whoosh of trepidation, elation and fear.

Time is slipping through my fingers. I must savour you.

I do my utmost not to spend so much time looking at you, my precious daughter, through a lens or a screen. I need to capture moments but eye to eye, smile to smile.

You are a lesson in being present.

I find myself... at 4:45am after 3 hours of broken sleep, as you start to murmur yourself awake for the sixth time that night, whispering to the dark: 'This too shall pass'.

Please let it pass. Just... not too fast. I am grateful. I am weary. God knows. Please, not too fast.

A lump rising in my throat. This too shall pass.

This won't last forever. You'll sleep longer soon. One day I'll forget what this was like. The sky is grey with approaching dawn and I chalk up another day of leaden limbs and a foggy head. What happened to all those best laid plans? Am I failing you? Am I failing myself?

The truth... the truth?

Motherhood is so much better and so much worse than I ever imagined.

I feel lost within it and made whole by it.

Having a child - having you - is like having my heart live outside my body. Emotions at their rawest and purest.

Fear and hope entwined at the roots of my midnight wonderings - what will the future hold for you? How can I ever and always protect you?

Grief in the throes of the inevitable passage of time, the changing of roles. Daughter to mother. Mother to grandmother.

Love, a word barely adequate for the swelling of my heart at the mere thought of you, the mere sight of you, the mere smell of your skin. It pains me to think there will be parts of yourself you will dislike or fear others won't accept. I could never find anything about you I could not adore.

Everything is a phase, a stage, the best and worst all at once. But you are the reason, the love and the light of my life.

These are the days. And these too, shall pass.