When I found out I was pregnant all I could think about was how this wasn’t something that was supposed to be happening now. I had so many things that I wanted to do and to achieve before I became a mother and now the chance to do these things had been taken away from me.
That probably sounds completely self indulgent.
How selfish and ungrateful can one woman be?
It wasn’t as if I didn’t want children, as though my life had suddenly changed direction and was now following a path that I never wanted to take. I just didn’t want to be on this path now and hard as I tried I just could not come to terms with the fact that I was going to be a mother.
I was so frightened, so conflicted and confused with the need to escape filling almost every waking moment but I knew that the only way out was to do something that I just couldn’t bring myself to do, because I knew that this could be my one and only chance to have a baby.
I have two different medical conditions that could have made (and could still make) it difficult or even impossible for me to fall pregnant and I was fortunate enough to find out about them before we started trying for a baby. The specialist doctor I’d seen the previous year had stressed the importance of seeking medical advice if we tried for more than six months without falling pregnant, even though most couples would have to try for a year or more before any potential fertility problems even began to be investigated.
So when I fell pregnant so easily, so completely unintentionally, it almost seemed like it was meant to be.
Despite taking emergency contraception within half an hour of our original method of contraception failing, reading the information booklet that came with the pill from cover to cover and doing absolutely everything that I was supposed to do I still fell pregnant.
It felt so wrong but even now I don’t entirely understand why.
We both wanted children, the Northern One and I and we’d already talked about what we’d do if I wasn’t able to become pregnant. We’d discussed IVF, adoption, fostering and the various options that would be open to us if we weren’t able to conceive a baby by ourselves.
Already there here had been times when I felt as though I was surrounded by pregnant women and my heart ached as I wondered whether pregnancy was something that I would ever experience. I congratulated friends when they told me about their pregnancies and then went home and sobbed because I was convinced that I would never be able to conceive a baby of my own. I attended appointments with specialists, taking prescribed medications and making the advised changes to my lifestyle.
I went through all this heartache and heartbreak and yet here I was pregnant, completely by accident.
I hadn’t had to experience the pain of negative pregnancy tests, of building up my hopes month after month only to have them destroyed every time. I hadn’t had to go through expensive, invasive fertility treatments knowing that they might still not be able to give me the baby that I so wanted.
Somehow, despite everything stacked against me I was pregnant and even though I desperately didn’t want to be I knew that I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I had a termination.
What if I couldn’t fall pregnant again?
I would have destroyed our one chance of having family.
My pregnancy was the worst time of my life and there was more than one day when I honestly thought that everyone; the Northern One, my family, my friends, even my unborn baby would be better off if I was dead. Every day I woke up and the knowledge that I had to keep going, that I had to keep living was almost more than I could bear. Day after day I couldn’t even get out of bed, instead attempting to hide away from the world and from the impending sentence of motherhood that would spell the end of all my hopes and dreams.
In an effort to help people kept telling me that everything happens for a reason, that life never gives us anything that we can’t cope with, that clearly this pregnancy was meant to be and every time someone said these things I wanted to scream. I wanted to make them understand how unfair and frightening the whole situation was, how it was taking a huge toll on my physical and mental health and how I had no idea how to be a mother so how could I look after baby.
Yet on some level I knew they were right.
I may not believe in fate or of our lives being guided by the omniscient hand of a greater being but even on my darkest days there was still some tiny part of me that was able to appreciate the huge odds I had overcome, intentionally or otherwise, in order to become pregnant.
In addition to my fertility issues I have a long family history of miscarrying first babies before the tenth week of pregnancy and I was convinced that this was going to happen to me. When I was old enough to understand my mum explained to me that she had lost her first baby, as had her sister and her mum and that if I ever became pregnant I needed to be aware that I might well miscarry my first baby as well. But the 10 week mark came and went, and I was still pregnant.
Once Squidge was born and I adjusted to becoming a mother, coming out the other side of sleep deprivation, feeding difficulties, hospital admissions and the sometimes abject terror that comes with being responsible for a tiny, helpless human I slowly began to remember how having a baby was one of my hopes and dreams.
I had forgotten the picture that I’d built up in my mind of cradling a tiny, dark-haired newborn dressed in a white sleepsuit.
The downward spiral of my mental health during pregnancy had erased memories from my mind until I couldn’t remember what it was like to feel anything other than pain and fear, to want anything other than to not be pregnant or to see a future that contained anything bright or positive.
Looking back nearly two years later I can appreciate how incredibly lucky I am.
I may not have fallen pregnant when I planned, experienced the dizzying excitement of holding a much wanted positive pregnancy test, been able to joyfully announce my pregnancy to family and friends or have had the happy pregnancy that I wanted but I have my baby.
I was given a chance.
Possibly my only chance.
But in the end that was all I needed.
I am a mother, just as I hoped and dreamed.