A few weeks I found out that a close friend is pregnant.
I read the text message that she sent me and my head started to spin and a sick feeling took up residence in my stomach.
It’s still there.
I am truly and honestly happy for her but at the same time my head is a swirling mass of messy, complicated emotions that I can’t even begin to untangle.
Fear, panic, envy, jealousy, anger, self-hatred.
I feel utterly contemptuous and selfish for even admitting that I feel this way; for needing to write my feelings down to try and process and make any sort of sense of them.
What kind of friend feels this way when they hear the joyful news of another?
I sat on the sofa and sobbed to the Northern One that I knew I was awful, selfish person but that I couldn’t stop myself from feeling this way any more than I could snap out of being depressed.
The knowledge that I was robbed of the chance to enjoy my first pregnancy, perhaps my only pregnancy has me in tears; grieving for the loss of what could have been and what may well never be.
I didn’t joyfully announce my pregnancy to friends and family and work colleagues. I didn’t really tell anyone unless I had to and most of our friends only knew that I had even been pregnant after Squidge was born.
I spent the majority of my pregnancy hiding in the house, sometimes not going outside for days and usually only emerging if I had a medical appointment to attend. On the occasions I did go out I found myself trying to hide my ever growing bump and shrinking away from people who tried to touch it, no matter how well-meaning and friendly they were.
I remember going to meet the Northern One for lunch after I’d had an antenatal appointment at the hospital he works at. The counsultant of the team he was on put two and two together and spent the hour talking about pregnancy, babies and the things that were difficult once you had children, like going to the cinema or sleeping. I tried to be polite but what I really wanted to do was sink into the floor or run out of the hospital and not stop runnning until I was far away from everyone and everything and so exhausted that I couldn’t think anymore.
Buying baby clothes and preparing the nursery weren’t things that I looked forward to, instead they were necessary chores that had to be completed in the same way that I had to do the laundry or pay the bills.
There were no excited squeals and hugs, no swearing to secrecy until we’d had the twelve week scan, no blurting out of the news when we just couldn’t contain our joy any longer.
I grieve for those things.
I know that I shouldn’t.
I know that I should just be thankful that I have a happy, healthy little boy who is beautiful and exasparating and who fills my heart with love until my cup overflows and I feel as though I might burst.
Yet I can’t let go of what could have been.
What I lost.
I see pregnant women in the street and I wonder if pregnancy is, for them, everything that they thought and hoped it would be.
I see new mums, in the park and the town centre, with tiny babies that are only a few days or weeks old. They carry them in slings or push them about in prams, expressions on their faces that are joy and pride and nervousness in almost equal measures.
When I met up with a group of work friends a few weeks ago two of the girls had very new babies and I somehow found myself sitting between them. I watched them with their children, filled with an emotion that I couldn’t quite place; not quite happy and not quite sad but something else that I couldn’t name and that left me with a strange sense of something being wrong.
Even as I write it seems a dreadful thing to be mourning the fact that I didn’t have a baby shower or take bump photos or show off Squidge in the first few weeks of his life.
So, once I’d sat and cried for a while I decided to go and ask the internet for advice.
I say the internet but I really mean MumsNet.
I know that I’m going to have to see this friend in the not too distant future and I need to be able to keep a lid on my feelings and emotions. Clearly I need to work through thse issues with myself and my counsellor but equally I don’t want the friend to have even the smallest inkling of what’s going on inside my head.
Even if she sails through pregnancy (if such a thing is indeed possible) she will have her own fears and worries without being concerned with my reaction to her news and her pregnancy journey.
I was quite surprised when several people mentioned the possibility of my having PTSD, particularly based upon the extreme emotional reaction I had to news that most people would be pleased about.
I am quite fortunate in the sense that I already see a very experienced counsellor who has a detailed knowledge of my medical history and various menta health issues. I’ll go and see her for our weekly appointment and present her with this lastest issue for us both to work through.
One more thing to try and deal with whilst at the same time minimising the impact that it has on my every day life.
One more thing to torture myself with as I use it as yet further proof that there’s something fundamentally wrong with me as a person.
One more thought to swirl around the recesses of my mind late at night when I can’t sleep.
There’s always one more thing.