I don’t know why I feel the need to write this today, I just do.
It fills me with guilt and shame, brings tears to my eyes even though it happened nearly a year ago.
When Squidge was two days old I tried to leave him at the hospital.
I was exhausted.
During Squidge’s first night he had low blood sugar as a result of my gestational diabetes so we were woken every hour to either feed him or prick his poor little bruised heels to check his blood sugar. He was very reluctant to feed and so by the time I’d got sufficient milk into him it was time to check his blood sugar again.
The next day we were transferred to our local maternity hospital so that I could spend a few days getting used to feeding and being a mum with the support of the midwives and the Northern One who had been allowed to stay. The ward was so warm I still couldn’t sleep even though Squidge was only waking every three hours to feed and the Northern One had taken over changing nappies and getting him to sleep.
I was also anaemic, in pain, still bleeding and really struggling to accept that I was now a mum.
That evening I got up to go to the bathroom and as I limped down the corridor, holding onto the walls I decided that I wasn’t going back.
I made it as far as the door before I realised that I it couldn’t be opened without an ID badge.
The fact that I would have to have walked four miles home in the middle of the night in the middle of March, in a nightie and slippers, having only given birth the day before was not important.
That the Northern One would have no idea where I was, that Squidge would be without his mum and that I would have caused a town wide search involving the police was not important.
That I would probably have passed out from blood loss and fatigue before I got anywhere near home wasn’t important.
All I knew was that I needed to be alone and I needed to sleep.
I wandered back up the corridor and into the TV room. The lights were off and there was no one else around so I lay down on one of the sofas and tried to sleep but I couldn’t.
I was so hot, my boobs were leaking and every time I heard a baby cry I was torn between wanting to run and see if it was Squidge and wanting to scream at my body for betraying me by leaking milk and my hormones for insisiting that I needed to go to my baby. Instead I put my fingers in my ears, shut my eyes and refused to move, waiting for the Northern One to come and find me.
But he didn’t.
After a while a student midwife stuck her head round the door but I pretended to be asleep. I was convinced she was going to make me get up and go back to Squidge and then I’d never be able to escape.
Instead she got a blanket and tucked it round me and quietly left.
A few weeks later the Northern One said that he’d asked her to go and look for me but to leave me to sleep as he thought I’d probably gone to find a quiet corner to try and get my head straight. He’d stayed with Squidge to try and keep him asleep so that he wouldn’t cry and disturb me for a bit.
At the time I was convinced that he now loved Squidge so much that he didn’t have room for me anymore.
I lay on the sofa with tears streaming down my face, trying be to quiet so that the midwives wouldn’t hear me.
But I couldn’t stop the sobs.
The desperate need for someone to hear me so that they could come and fix this nightmare situations that I couldn’t see anyway to escape from. I didn’t know what to do or think or feel but I knew I needed someone.
The same student midwife heard me from the next room and when she came in I just fell apart.
Words tumbled out of my mouth; the deluge of emotions I was feeling mixed up my words but in between the tears and sobs she realised that I was telling her I couldn’t be a mum.
The poor girl couldn’t have been older than 20 and here she was with an absolutely inconsolable woman who was making very little sense and refusing to move from the sofa and go back to her baby.
I vaguely remember asking her whether the Northern One hated me so she went to fetch him and took over looking after Squidge.
He walked into the TV room and I almost screamed at him; asking him where he’d been and did he hate me so much that he didn’t even care where I’d been for the last hour. Clearly this wasn’t the case but I was so emotional, hormonal and stressed that I couldn’t think straight.
He sat and held me while I cried; until my face was red and swollen and my head ached. When I eventually ran out of energy to cry anymore I realised that I could hear a baby crying.
I knew it was him and I knew that he needed me.
Almost against my will I got up off the sofa and slowly walked across to the ward, not really knowing what I was doing or why.
I was emotionally and physically exhausted by I kept putting one foot in front of the other until I was stood looking at the midwife holding Squidge. I held out my arms for him and sat down, tears still running down my face as I didn’t have the energy to try and stop them.
He was crying for food and the midwife handed me a bottle.
I baulked then, wanting to run but also knowing that I would never be able to leave Squidge again.
That I had made a choice by coming back.
I had chosen to be his mummy.
I was still unsure, still frightened and I wanted the Northern One to feed Squidge but the midwife was firm.
Kind, but firm.
I was his mummy and I needed to feed him.
So I did.
He snuggled in my arms, drank his bottle and fell asleep.
My beautiful, contented, sleeping baby who had cried for me and stopped when I came back for him.
Who had no idea of the thoughts and feelings burning in my brain, the emotions that I’d struggled with and the choices I’d had to make.
I was here and that was all he needed.
He needed me.
And as horrible and upsetting the whole incident was I think I needed it to happen; I needed that crisis point to realise that I wanted to be Squidge’s mummy. That when push came to shove I could put my needs aside and look after him.
To know that it was me he wanted when I thought he’d be better off with almost anyone else.
There have still been times where I’ve felt unable to cope with being a mum but they’ve passed quickly.
I do still think about what life might be like if I wasn’t a mum but I know that it less bright and joyful. That it would be emptier for his absence even though I wouldn’t know it. He is, as the Northern One says, the light of our lives.
Squidge needs me.
And I need him.