I have always been an anxious person. But I spent the first 32 years of my life being a die-hard optimist. Yes – sometimes life sucked, but you could always make it better, you could always make the best of a bad situation and there was always a silver lining. I expected life to be kind because God was good and wanted good things for me.
Now I am still an anxious person, but I no longer expect the silver lining. I do not expect life to be kind to me, and I’m still not 100% sure how I feel about God and what he wants. I live each day waiting for the other shoe to drop.
I think that the sheer speed and unexpectedness of Mark’s illness and death has blown out of the water my ability to carry on day by day with the expectation that everything is going to be ok.
This is why the wait for the 12 week scan seemed interminable. And also why I don’t think I let myself hope to much until we’d seen the tiny bundle of black and white wriggling around on the screen. I spent the first bit of the pregnancy assuming that something would go horribly wrong.
It wasn’t until we’d had the all-clear that I let myself feel any kind of connection to the Hatchling. It was the afternoon of the scan and I thought. “Ok, so you are sticking around. I can love you then.”
Then this week the blood test results came back – all clear, everyone is healthy, and there’s nothing to worry about. I had been waiting with baited breath – assuming something would be wrong. I’m not quite sure how to snap myself out of that. It’s quite a tiring state of mind to be in most of the time. And it feels so different from my last pregnancy.
Mark and I didn’t really discuss conception or trying to get pregnant.
The most advice we got was when I went to the doctors and was told to take folic acid and that Mark should stop cycling…that didn’t go down well!
Oh, and the nurse at my contraception check who told me, in a very judgemental tone, that I could do with losing a stone if I was going to get pregnant….which was nice. (and also ironic, as it turns out that it was the pill making me put on weight, and when I came off it my weight dropped!)
I think we cut down on drinking at first. Then nothing happened for 3 months and he freaked out. That whole Catholic sex education where they basically tell you that if you look at a girl the wrong way she’ll get pregnant immediately! He wanted to go and see the doctor, so I kindly informed him that they would laugh at us if we went before we’d been trying for a year!
It didn’t help that he was away all the time with work. In hindsight I don’t think he was ever there at the right time of the month, although I wasn’t as aware of my cycle as I am now. Also he was knackered when he was around. After 3 months we both gave up drinking and cleaned up our diet even more. And I think we were both pretty stressed and anxious about it, which didn’t help.
And then, we went to France, after 8 months of trying. We drank red wine and beer, ate cheese, bread, sausages, all the things we’d cut out. We relaxed for a week in the sun. And got pregnant!
Cheese is obviously the answer!!!
I had no idea though. And the following week we went to the KPMG weekend away, and got completely wasted at the make your own cocktail bar. And it turns out Ethan was already growing away! So, I hold little truck with the whole “no alcohol or you’ll damage your baby’s brain cells” approach… To be honest, if I’d stayed tee-total and he’d been any more clever than he is now I don’t think I could have coped!!
The pregnancy was awesome. Well, there were weeks where the nausea was constant and the only thing I could stomach was marmite on Ryvita….but you accept those things. (Morning sickness is a myth, by the way, I felt sick ALL day). And people talk about feeling tired in the first trimester, but they don’t mention (or they didn’t to me) that you feel as if someone has taken your batteries out. I had lunchtime naps on the sofa in my office just to keep going! And then there was the tinned grapefruit obsession, and the appearance of a sweet tooth, which I’d never had before. The last trimester was all about red meat. We didn’t eat that much of it generally, with Mark’s obsession with being healthy, but it was all the baby wanted…burgers, steak, burgers, steak!!! Walking to work was getting more difficult, and sitting behind the wheel of the car was too. When I look back at videos and photos, my bump was so neat and tidy, even when it got really big. And the continuous exercise I was doing meant I didn’t put on that much weight anywhere else. Even if Mark did make me switch from my beloved Tracy Anderson to pregnancy yoga and specific workouts…..
If only the birth had been the same.
So I am trying to return even a little of my optimism. To focus on positive thoughts.
This time it will be different. This time there will be a date in the diary, when I will go into a room, have a c-section, get to hold our baby and be awake when I go back to the ward. Then feeding will be easier because my body can focus on making milk and not blood to replace all that I lost, recovery will be easier, and our family can continue trauma free – for a while at least. Here’s hoping.