On the day I found out I was pregnant I was about five weeks along and I briefly thought about having a termination.
I wasn’t ready to be pregnant, I wasn’t ready to be a mum and I had no idea how I’d be able to cope with this massive, unexpected life event. There were already days I felt so out of control that I was barely able to look after myself, never mind a baby.
Images of never ending sleepless nights, of my marriage being unable to cope and being unable to work to work flashed through my mind. I pictured having one of the days where I was almost catatonic; barely moving all day and speaking in monotones but with a baby needing care and attention and love.
I thought I was going to pass out.
I thought about what a termination would entail and what I would need to do.
Then I remembered the three letters than I sometimes see in the hospital notes of the babies at work, on the sheet detailing the maternal medical history.
Termination of pregnancy
Women have terminations for all sorts of reasons and I doubt it’s a decision that many, if any women take lightly. At the time it’s the right thing for them to do but I know that many of them come to regret their decision and wonder what could have been.
In my heart I knew that I would be one of these women.
I didn’t want to be pregnant but I also couldn’t imagine deliberately ending the pregnancy either.
The Northern One tentatively mentioned having a termination and I told him that I couldn’t go through with one. He said he would support me in whatever I felt I needed to do; that it was my body and it would be my life that would change the most.
We agreed then and there that we would keep this baby and that we would love it and look after it.
I attempted to go back to work at seven weeks after having two weeks holiday but at about eight weeks I phoned my GP to ask to be reviewed for a sick note so that I could have a longer time off work. I was barely able to get out of bed because my mental state was so bad, everywhere I went sights and smells made me feel incredibly nauseous and I was in no fit state to go to work.
I couldn’t handle being around babies when I was so unsure about how I felt about being pregnant and being a mummy and I knew as soon as anyone; staff or parents found out I’d find myself constantly answering questions about names and due dates and whether working on NICU makes you more worried during pregnancy.
Working on a neonatal unit also means that you never get to keep being pregnant a secret for very long. As soon as you ask someone else to do an x-ray for you or you have to swap the allocation around because you can’t work with babies with certain infections everyone knows you’re expecting.
I explained the situation to my very understanding GP who was more than happy to write me a sick note. She paused a moment and then asked me if I had decided whether I wanted to continue with the pregnancy.
My stomach dropped and my head span when she mentioned charities I could contact for more advice but in that moment I know I had made the right decision by keeping the little grape that would one day be Squidge.
As hard as being pregnant was, now that it had happened I knew that not being pregnant anymore would be far worse.
Being pregnant was the most difficult nine months of my life, both physically and mentally and by the end I was on the maximum dose of antidepressants, sleeping tablets and the occasional diazepam, I’d been admitted to hospital twice, I could barely walk due to SPD and I was on a diet that mostly consisted of rice cakes due to gestational diabetes.
There were times that I really just wanted to end it all I never regretted my decision not to have a termination.
I had also briefly spoken to a specialist mental health midwife about adoption but when I had decided that I wouldn’t have a termination I had also decided that I would not give up my child.
That if I felt so strongly about not having a termination for reasons that weren’t religious or ethical then clearly, somewhere deep down I wanted this baby not just to live but to be mine.
Mine to love and nurture and cherish even though depression told me that I was a monster who could never love this baby.
It did take me a few weeks to bond with Squidge and it definitely wasn’t love at first sight but we got there and the people who told me that once he arrived everything I’d been through would be worth it, instead of wanting to punch them I have to concede that they were right.
Clearly this is not the case for everyone and there were times when I truly believed that it wouldn’t be worth it; that I would be a terrible mother and Squidge would grow up to hate me.
I hated people trotting out platitudes “It’ll all be worth it”, “You won’t be able to imagine life without him” “It was all meant to be” with a smile that implied that they knew something that I didn’t when they had no idea of what I was going through.
Squidge will be one next month and not a day goes by that I’m not thankful that I made the decision to keep him.