They say life is full of surprises.
Leo was unintended. I won’t say unplanned because I had always planned to have children. Always imagined being a mother; had white picket fence aspirations where I was married to the doppelganger of George Clooney. I envisioned celebrations and joy when I found out I was expecting my first child, not the numb buzzing panic of what the hell am I going to do. The prevailing emotions I recall from those first few months are fear and panic.
I had been with Leo’s dad a short time and we were barely at the point of considering a mini break, let alone having a child. I was told courtesy of PCOS that conception would likely impossible. My doctor told me my discomfort and sickness was likely another cyst, pumped me full of goodness-knows-what and booked a scan in as I had one rupture previously and they wanted to check my ovaries were not trying to explode. Ick. I went to visit my mum a week later and ended up ringing my doctor in agony. Google told me it was death or rabies. Low and behold a scan in A&E showed my cyst had a heartbeat.
Ooopsy. (That’s the parental censored version of ‘oh s**t’).
I don’t remember much of being pregnant, I have bitter regrets that I cannot look back and feel I have fond memories of that time. I have pictures where I am smiling and think I was happy, or was trying so hard I appeared to be. My poor grandparents being traditional types were at first, in earnest, horrified and disappointed. I remember my grandad on the phone saying he did not want to talk to me, if any moment ever broke my heart it was that. But my family and friends stuck by me; have been so generous with their love, time and ensuring little man could have everything he possibly wants in the world.
I would lie awake in the night thinking, who is this person and what am I going to do with him? I didn’t feel an all-consuming magical mummy bond, I think that may be mythical crap. I talked to him in my tummy, sung to him, picked beautiful outfits and folded them in neat square piles. I think health care providers can miss opportunities to learn more about the pregnant woman’s feelings about her pregnancy. Looking back I know I was overwhelmed, I don’t think I quite realised I was having a baby till they put him in my arms and he had my scrunched up pout. Well that was ten minutes after he was born, when they first tried to hand him to me I hid in my hands and politely said, no thank you. I was in utter shock.
Ten minutes later I could not take my eyes off his little face. Born with my papa’s bright red hair I envisaged him joining a folk group.
I remember feeling surprise at the critical undertone of society’s attitude towards single women…even in 2011 where I thought public stoning’s were a thing of the past. Leo’s dad and I separated months after he was born. At groups I would dread the question, ‘so where’s daddy today?’ then the awkward pause and swift change of subject. I was met with well-meant comments such as, ‘we are so sad it happened for you in this way’, so I became sad. People tenderly told me how they ‘wanted better for me.’ So I thought I wanted better to, but who knows what would have been better…
I have anxiously and proudly watched a dear friend drag herself bravely, exhaustingly through pregnancy with hyperemesis. There are others who have gone through complex conceptions involved charting cycles, planning for a baby mixed with excitement and restless concern. I missed out on that strain, the pressure of trying and waiting. I am eternally grateful I do not have to worry about what life without a child would look like. Pregnancy is deeply personal, it’s natural to feel any number of emotions at any time, don’t feel guilty if it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.
Today I have a beautiful, obstinate blue eyed terror of a four year old, having dragged myself though an honestly bloody hard time of parenting. I would not go back and change a thing. I feel like I survived a trek up Everest, have got bruised and battered on the way up but I can now sit and have a glass of bourbon with my partner in the sun. I cannot yet shake the first time residual hardships to want to have another child, maybe someday I will feel safe with the idea..I will throw something large and heavy at you if you ask me when Leo will be getting a sibling.
LARGE AND HEAVY.
If you liked this post check out: The meaning of ‘Mum’. How the word has changed me. Mum-me.