When I first found out I was pregnant, all I could think about was how having a baby here and now was not part of the plan.
For months I railed against the unfairness of it all.
I did not want to be pregnant.
I did not want to give up the life that the Northern One and I had created, just the two of us.
I did not want to have to sacrifice my career, my body or anything else for this tiny stranger who had forced themselves into existence.
In the days and weeks after Squidge was born I slowly adjusted to the fact that I was now a mother. In the beginning there were as many bad days as good but I came to accept that my life was now shared with two people instead of just one and before I knew it I couldn’t imagine life without Squidge, nor did I want to.
Yet there are still moments, especially now that my baby is turning into a independent, willful toddler who has learnt to throw things when things don’t go his way, when I hear a little voice inside my head.
This little voice reminds me that this is not how I intended my life to be.
The past few weeks have been very stressful due to a combination of preparing for a job interview and Squidge not wanting to go to bed.
I have been very conflicted about applying for this job.
On the one hand working at a different hospital would allow Squidge to stay in the same nursery until he goes to school but means that I will have to sacrifice my current job and start all over again somewhere new. I will be moving to a less intensive neonatal unit where I will not have the same opportunities to look after the sickest babies and I worry that I will lose the intensive care skills that I have worked so hard to gain.
I am prepared to start afresh; attempting to make new friends and adapt to a new role so that my little boy can stay in the nursery that he enjoys so much.
But with bedtime being fraught with tears and stress as Squidge refuses to go to sleep, I have found myself thinking back to those early days when I couldn’t see how a baby could possibly fit into my life. Night after night when Squidge has spent hours shouting and crying until everyone is frazzled and he’s completely worn himself out, those early doubts and fears have crept back in and the little voice inside my head that reminds me how things weren’t supposed to be this way has started whispering once more.
Sometimes I have successfully silenced the voice but there has been more than one night as I’ve gone up to Squidge’s room for the umpteenth time or dragged myself out of bed in the early hours when the voice has stopped whispering and instead has shrieked at me as loudly as Squidge.
It has been a difficult time, where I have repeatedly wondered whether I am in fact a good mother or a good nurse and whether the decisions I have made recently have been the right ones for my family.
I have told myself over and over again that I if this new job is not everything I hope it will be, I do not have to stay in it forever. When Squidge goes to school in a few years time I will be able to chose where I work without having to worry about childcare and that although my career may be set back by a couple of years, it will be far from over.
These days, in times of need, I turn to the blogging community and, as they have done so before, have helped to remind me of what is really important.
Through my blog I have met dozens of different people who each have a unique story to tell and share with the world. Many of the stories are happy and tell of the joys of family life and raising children but some also contain months or even years of sadness.
Loss, bereavement, infertility, the wanting of a child that for some reason they are unable to have.
The reading of these stories, the insights into the lives of these brave but sometimes broken people has helped me to see something very important; something that helps me through even on the most difficult of days.
It will never be too late for me to have a baby.
I do not know the heartache of hoping that this will be the month that I finally conceive, only for those dreams to be dashed by yet another negative pregnancy test.
I will never know what it’s like to long for a child but be unable to have one.
I will not have to endure months of tests and failed treatments, all the while knowing that I am rapidly running out of time.
I am so incredibly fortunate not to know these things.
I may have to make sacrifices now but I am still young and I have many years in which to pursue my career and make of my life what I wish.
I have the luxury of time to decide whether I am strong enough to have another child instead of feeling forced to make the decision before it is too late.
I am blessed to share my life with my beautiful, healthy little boy who, for every tantrum and sleepless night helps me to find happiness in places that I would never think to look alone.
The little voice inside my head tells me that I should be ashamed for needing to read about the sadness of others in order to realise how lucky I am but I’m sure I’m not the only person who needs reminding every now and again.
Raising a child and trying to be the best parent you can be is difficult and stressful even when everything in your life is going exactly to plan. So when it feels like everything is going a bit wrong, caring for a tiny, demanding person and trying to help them grow into a confident, happy and well-rounded adult can seem nigh on impossible.
One of the main reasons for writing this blog is to share the difficult times of my life with others who may be going through something similar. I hope that others may learnt that they are not alone in what they are feeling and that no matter how bad things seem it is never too late for things to change and become better.
However, even if all someone takes from this blog is the fact that, when compared to mine, their life doesn’t seem as dark and difficult as they supposed, then as long as they do not look at me with pity, I don’t begrudge them that.
I hope that the wonderful and inspiring bloggers whose blogs I read, who are reach out to me on the darkest of days and who are each a part of the blogging community that I am proud to be a part of feel the same.
Louise is a full time mum, a part time neonatal nurse and award nominated blogger who has battled depression for many years but was particularly ill during her pregnancy. She lives with her husband (the Northern One) their little boy (Squidge) and their three guinea pigs who live in the kitchen.
Louise blogs at 23weeksocks (http://23weeksocks.com) about lots of different (and seemingly unconnected) topics that she’s passionate about, including mental health, antenatal depression, neonatal care and baby loss. She’s also involved in #MatExp (https://www.facebook.com/groups/MatExp/); an online maternity experience campaign that was formed to help improve maternity services in the UK. As part of this she hosts the #MatExpHour Twitter chat every Friday and would love to see you there.