Last year I became a member of a club that no one wants to talk about. A club in which membership is one of the most painful experiences most will face in their lifetime and all are pretty much powerless to avoid. We found out we were expecting a baby in December 2017, excited and full of hope and expectation we celebrated.
As tradition encourages we were hoping to share our good news after the first scan at 12 weeks….we never got to 12 weeks… in fact we never got to 3 weeks We experienced a miscarriage on Christmas Eve last year. I spent the holidays putting on a brave face, trying to behave like nothing had happened, for my sanity, for my son, for us. Inside I was distraught, I rarely get a moment to myself, but when I did, I found myself sobbing, feeling an overwhelming sense of grief. Confused as to what had happened. What had I done wrong? Why had this happened? Did I run too fast for the bus? Did I over exert myself carrying shopping? Did I check the date on that yoghurt that I ate yesterday? Will this consuming fear of going to the toilet ever subside? Will I ever feel like me again? Will this feeling that my body has let me down ever go away?
Pregnancy is beautiful and inspiring, and wonderful. Bursting with hope, expectation and dreams. Carrying a life, growing a life, sustaining and nurturing a life is beyond description. Your life changes the moment you read that pee stick, the moment you realise that a life is beginning to take shape. Your imagination begins to run away with itself. Names, hair colour, eye colour, is it going to be a boy or a girl, who will the baby look like, what colour scheme will the nursery have?
I spent 5 gruelling hours waiting to be seen in a soulless hospital in Switzerland that resembled a burnt down housing estate in Peckham. I sat in the cold waiting room watching my son play with the water dispenser and throw all the leaflets neatly piled on the table in the bin, as he joyfully sang ‘tidy up tidy up’ .When I was called in the doctor asked me if I was sure I had been pregnant and did I feel pregnant? That question was like someone sucker punched me in the abdomen…what did she mean was I sure??! Would anyone lie in this situation?!!! She examined me and sent me home as though I had complained of a common cold.
Among women who know they’re pregnant, it’s estimated about 1 in 8 pregnancies will end in miscarriage. 1 in 8 is a shocking statistic considering I only know two people who’ve told me they have experienced miscarriage. I’m not sure why we don’t talk about it, but I wish we did. I wish we spoke about our fears and shared our experiences. It makes us stronger, comforted, better equipped, and helps us to put things in perspective.
When I got pregnant again, I wish someone told me it was normal to be anxious, to fear going to the toilet daily. To worry yourself into a state of immobilisation. Talking and sharing helps. Someone may find comfort in your story, someone may be going through the same pain and feel lost and alone. Miscarriage isn’t shameful, or embarrassing…it happens to so many of us…men feel it too…it’s out of our control… and takes life altering strength to keep on when you just want to disappear. I share this because I am not ashamed, I am proud that we found strength to persevere, we found healing and I’m grateful.
Growing up I didn’t know if I would ever have children, I guess I never dreamed it would happen. Some spend their lives dreaming and hoping and one miscarriage after another their hopes disappear. There is fulfilment without children, there are so many wonderful opportunities and experiences in the world. Focus on what you have, your blessings, what makes you happy, what makes you smile. There are so many unwanted children that need a home, not enough of us consider adoption. And not all of us are meant to be parents…that’s ok too.
So now I’m in week 8 of being a mother of two….still yet to wake up feeling like I know what I’m doing, or even should be doing….thought that might have happened by now… I’m so grateful for my daughter, she’s an absolute gem. Sleeps, eats, shits, repeats. What more could I ask for?!
She’s pretty much a model baby, she’s not the problem, it’s me and trying to work out how on earth I am going to keep two under 3’s alive! My toddler has been ok ish….he’s absolutely in love with the newborn, surprisingly the novelty hasn’t quite worn off yet and he doesn’t think we’re taking her back for a refund! I’ve heard some scary horror stories of toddlers and ‘welcoming’ a new born and thankfully we haven’t had to manage that kind of jealousy. He hasn’t attempted to throw her in the bin or put her in the toilet…so we’re good!! Parents of multiple children, I salute you! Single parents of multiple children…I prostrate…are you even human?!
My toddler does however think he’s the newest member of WWF and that my daughter is a potential prop for his wrestling, so the majority of my day is spent keeping the toddler at bay from the newborn, boisterous hugs and belly flops are not welcome! I’m still telling my toddler that the baby’s cot is not the most ideal place for his supersize noisy ambulance and isn’t really the most appropriate place to practice diving from…
Other than bucket loads of patience and repeating ‘be gentle’ and ‘soft hands’ like it’s going out of fashion there are a few things we did to try and prepare our loving toddler for the arrival of his sister. Firstly, everything we could change we changed at least 4 months before she was born. From the stories I’ve heard of toddlers battling for attention and displaying negative behavioural responses to new siblings it just seems like a human. emotionally charged response to a huge change, a change in hierarchy, a change in attention, focus, time, routine. So implementing these changes in stages and trying to remove the connection with the arrival of the new baby seemed liked the best solution. We changed my sons bed, moving him out of his cot and into a bed. We started using a double pram with just him in it. We put him into nursery a few days a week and generally talk about the baby in gentle conversations about his role as a big brother and how important he will be. So my son doesn’t associate any of those changes with the arrival of his sister. She hasn’t ‘taken’ anything that used to be his. Change can create resentment and hostility and that’s what I wanted to avoid. Now I need to work on ensuring that now she is here I create regular one on one time with my toddler. Mummy and Joshua time, where the baby isn’t hanging off my boob, and Joshua gets undiluted Mummy time. The baby sling is my new best friend. I can see this being a very steep learning curve…any tips throw them my way!!