I have a friend, lets call her C.
She was the first person outside of my family that I told when we found out we were having Squidge, before I became really ill. She was also one of the few people who knew about my spiral into the darkness of antenatal depression and through it all she was there. She didn’t understand what I was going through, like any other mental illness you can’t understand unless you’ve been there but she understood that I was in pain, I was frightened and she accepted it without judgement.
At no point did she tell me that there was no reason to be sad; that I should be grateful to be pregnant when so many women were unable to concieve or carry babies of their own. Even though she was excited she hid that excitement, knowing that I was unable to be excited and that her excitement would hurt. In most places that I sought help I was met with confusion, with silence and sometimes even anger; as though I had chosen to feel this way instead of being glowing and happy, the way I was supposed to be.
She was there to listen to me sob on the phone just so I didn’t have to cry alone. She learned what distraction techniques worked and was always willing to help. She was prepared to drop everything to come and stay when I didn’t think I could manage on my own while my husband was at work. She didn’t assume that being pregnant was a happy time and would talk about anything that wasn’t baby related.
When the professionals sent to help me were more interested in how my illness would afffect Squidge and my ability to care for him she made me feel as though I was the most important person the world, that all I needed to focus on was getting better and everything else would be taken care of. When I ranted about doctors who asked me how baby was, a baby who wasn’t even born before I’d even sat down, before they’d even introduced themselves she let me shout until I’d released all the anger. When I felt like nothing more than an incubator, that I was only being given help to benefit my unborn baby and that no one cared beyond keeping me stable enough to deliver Squidge safely she made sure that even if everyone else did think like that I knew that she didn’t.
When I was at my worst her support didn’t waver even though it would have been so easy to shy away, so much less difficult than listening to me rage against something that I couldn’t escape from. There would have been no more text messages about what I planned to do to escape, about how I couldn’t go on
When Squidge was born she sent two cards; one for him and one for me to make sure that I wasn’t forgotten in the excitement of a new arrival. She made me a medal so that I knew how brave she thought I’d been, even though I didn’t feel it.
She is wonderful with Squidge and he loves her but even now, when I am almost completely well I still don’t feel like I come second. Even though every time she visits Squidge he is bigger, different and has learnt a new and endearing skill she is still just as interested in me, my work and my life even though Squidge is changing so much faster.
Even if I wrote every day for the next year I could never properly express everything she has done for us, for my family where once there was two and now there are three.
Thank you C, for everything.