This time a year ago I was fidgeting around on the sofa trying to get comfortable, sick to the back teeth of Braxton-Hicks and counting down the days until my elective c-section.
The next morning, after a short but truly terrifying labour Squidge arrived ten days earlier than anticipated.
I don’t remember much of my first Mother’s Day; I was confused, scared, sleep-deprived and constantly worrying that I would do something wrong and Squidge would grown up to be a deviant.
I do recall the Northern One having bought me a card and a pretty box of Thornton’s choccies which I still have (minus the chocolates of course). I specifically remember him apologising because they were all dark chocolates but bearing in mind I’d had gestational diabetes for the last few months I really didn’t care what kind of chocolates they were so long as I was actually allowed to eat them.
This Mother’s Day I was also given chocolate (Ferrero Rocher) but although I’m still scared I feel so much more like a mum. Today has also reminded of me of all the people who I have to thank for helping me get this far.
I had a stack of thank you cards to send to people but the first few difficult weeks being a mum got in the way. Then the weeks turned into months and tomorrow it will be a year since Squidge was born.
These are the people that I owe so much to; my health, my sanity and my son.
The GP I saw the day after I found out I was pregnant because I knew there was a high risk of Squidge being ectopic. She took my sobbing meltdown in her stride, promised me that I didn’t have to stop taking my antidepressants and arranged for me to have a scan at the Early Pregnancy Unit the same day.
The junior doctor who had worked with the Northern One and saw me in A&E when we still didn’t know if Squidge was ectopic and I was experiencing severe abdominal pains. I’d been triaged by a nurse who openly admitted that he had no idea how to treat me and sent me back to sit in the waiting room for an hour after I’d been waiting for an hour already. The doctor saw me as soon as she realised that I was a potential maternity emergency, calmed me down when I was shivering with pain and worry and came to see me up on the early pregnancy unit before she went home.
The same doctor came to see me on the postnatal ward the same day Squidge was born to see how we were getting on and to tell me how happy she was that we were both doing well.
The primary care mental health nurse who initiated all of the specialist mental health support that I received and didn’t bat an eye lid when I had a panic attack during the appointment and threw up in her waste paper bin.
The sonographer who did my 12 week scan and who noticed that something wasn’t right with me almost as soon as I walked into the room without me even having to tell her. She offered to rearrange my appointment if I felt that I couldn’t go through with it that day, moved all the monitors around so that I could be scanned without having to see the scan images and printed some pictures for me to take away in case I wanted to look at them later. We were actually supposed to pay for the pictures after the scan but she knew that all I wanted to do as soon as the scan was over was to go home and that I wouldn’t have got any pictures otherwise.
The sonographer who did my 20 week scan and who had read my notes so knew that I was struggling to accept the pregnancy. She also re-positioned the monitors so that I didn’t have to look until I was ready and then when I did look made sure that I knew Squidge was healthy but didn’t expect me to be happy or excited.
My midwife who was prepared to see me every week if that was what it took to help me get through the pregnancy. She never tried to force me to be excited or do anything that I didn’t want to, like listen to Squidge’s heart beat and arranged for me to stay at the local maternity hospital for three nights even though I didn’t actually want to deliver Squidge there. She also arranged for the Northern One to be able to stay with me for all three nights because she knew that I needed him.
My counsellor who sat and listened to break down week after week, handed me endless tissues, held my hand and refused to stop trying to help me believe that I could get through this, that I could look after a baby and that I wasn’t the monster that I thought I was. On the day that I truly wanted to end it all she rearranged all her other appointments, found me a pillow to cuddle and sat with me for hours until the Northern One was able to get home from the hospital.
My riding instructor who let me continue with my riding lessons for as long as I was comfortable because she knew that I needed to be able to carry on with something that helped me feel a little bit normal. She came and sat in my car with me when I couldn’t get out after a panic attack and then when I couldn’t ride anymore because my bump was too big I used to drive to the stables, chat to the horses and do some small jobs for her so I could feel useful.
The junior doctor who reviewed me when I was admitted to hospital with contractions at 26 weeks. I was in pain, terrified that Squidge was going to be born that night and then when she told me that I was going to need an internal examination and swabs taken I completely broke down. I’ve had problems with internal examinations for years but rarely have I met someone who dealt with my fears so sensitively. She did the procedure as quickly as possible, told me how brave I’d been and gave my hand a squeeze afterwards.
The midwife who came to see me on the antenatal ward, sat with me for an hour while I cried, referred me to a maternity mental health clinic and came to check on me several times a day until I was discharged home.
The receptionist at the Mother and Baby Unit who, when I arrived over an hour late for my appointment with the psychiatrist because I got so incredibly lost told me not to worry, found me a comfy chair, got me a glass of water and slotted me into a cancellation appointment that day.
The two health visitors who came to see me even before Squidge and multiple times after just to see how I was managing. They arranged to help me go to baby groups generally get out and about when I had visions of being trapped in the house for days and weeks at at time.
The specialist mental health midwife who sat with me for an hour after an appointment I’d had with a consultant and helped me make a plan of how I would get through the next four months of my pregnancy. She arranged for me to see her every week, even if it was just for a chat and to let her know how I was getting on and helped me to write my birth plan for my elective section. She made sure that it included the things that were really important to me, such as Squidge being given to the Northern One first and made sure it was circulated to all the midwives from 34 weeks so that they all read it in plenty of time. She also arranged for my mum to be allowed in the theatre for the c-section (that I didn’t end up having) even though only the Northern One was supposed to be allowed.
The student midwife who tucked a blanket around me when she found me hiding on a sofa in the TV room after having tried to leave the maternity hospital without Squidge and the Northern One. She didn’t try and insist that I went back to him, gave me some time to be alone and then when I was sobbing for the Northern One went to fetch him and looked after Squidge for him.
My two wonderful friends who texted me even though they knew that I really struggled to reply, sent me card and flowers and just generally let me know that they cared and that they were thinking of me. Even after Squidge was born they made sure they sent cards and presents specifically for me and not just things for Squidge.
My parents who made sure that I was in no doubt that they would still love me and support me even if Squidge arrived and I couldn’t love him. My mum made arrangements to leave her job and come and be Squidge’s primary carer if I wasn’t able to look after him and that she would stay with us until I was able to look after him. She came to stay with us for two weeks after Squidge was born (much to the Northern One’s relief) and then for another week when I developed mastitis and the Northern One was on nights. Each and every time I’ve burst into tears because think I’m making a mess of being a mum and that I just can’t cope she’s there to give me a hug, tell me she knows how difficult it can be and that regardless of what I think I’m doing well.
The Northern One for continuing to love me unconditionally regardless of everything that I threw at him. He never made me feel as though I was at fault or to blame, that I was anything less than a wonderful wife and that I would be anything less than a wonderful mother.
From the bottom of my heart.