It’s been six months since I’ve written on here and I feel like it’s time to give you all a bit of a catch up on where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to for the last half a year.
My life has quite literally been a rollercoaster since my mum passed away. I can’t describe it any other way. In exactly one week my mum will have been gone for a whole year. That’s 365 days where I haven’t been able to speak to her, or see her, or have any sort of contact with her, and when next Thursday arrives, I’m predicting that my emotions will be all over the place. I’ll possibly be an emotional wreck, so you might want to avoid me that day, unless you’re fully prepared for the breakdown I may or may not have while you’re here.
So? What’s new?
June 15th 2016 – Mum passed away after a 4-month long battle with cancer.
September 6th 2016 – Doctors appointment for bloods after realising my monthly cycle was 17 days late.
September 7th 2016 – Test came back negative.
October 4th 2016 – Experiencing minor symptoms of pregnancy still; did a cheap 99p pregnancy test in the toilets in town just to put my mind at rest. Test reads positive.
Doctors confirmation a few days later also tests positive.
My life felt like it was over. I’m sorry to say it because I’m fully aware that there are people out there dying to be in that position of seeing the two blue/pink lines appear on the pee stick saying they’re bringing life into the world, but that’s how I felt.
My mum was there for me for the birth of my two daughters and after watching me, and supporting me through two very tough pregnancies and labours, and one child experiencing separation anxiety whilst I was battling crippling agoraphobia, she knew 100% that I never ever wanted to go through pregnancy ever again. I wasn’t strong enough to pull myself out of that level of anxiety again; I simply didn’t have the energy to drag myself out of rock bottom again.
Yet, here I was, finding myself about to be a new mum again. I was petrified.
The first few weeks were hit and miss with my emotions. I’d spend my days feeling extremely anxious about going through pregnancy and labour again, and my nights holding my hand tightly on my tummy and whispering “I love you” to the baby that was inside of me; growing with every minute. Apart from a select few close family members I made the decision not to tell anybody I was expecting. I hadn’t yet made up my mind whether I was even continuing with the pregnancy; my negative thoughts were hitting me hard and I was struggling to see a light at the end of the tunnel. However, I knew I couldn’t terminate my pregnancy, not in a million years. I have nothing against people who choose to abort their babies; it’s not an easy decision to make. I just knew it wasn’t a decision I would be making. This basically meant that whether I liked it or not I was going to be a mum to a newborn again, as well as a 4 year old and a 7 year old.
Everything was going well with the pregnancy and I paid to have an early gender scan on 5th January, which was what should have been my mum’s 52nd birthday. I already had two girls so I was adamant I wanted a boy. But fate had other ideas; I was having another princess. And the crazy thing was; until I had my dating scan my original due date was 15th June. A year to the day Mum died. There was no other way to look at this pregnancy than to see it as a gift from Mum.
At 26/27 weeks pregnant I started feeling the anxiety I’d previously felt when I had the agoraphobia creeping back in and it didn’t take long for it to completely take over my life again. At 28 weeks I went to the hospital for a scan, got myself stupidly worked up, had a massive panic attack, and ended up led on the corridor floor at the hospital, surrounded by every other pregnant woman there for scans, countless sonographers, and loads of midwives. My auntie the poor woman had no idea what to do; she was like a rabbit caught in headlights, but she stuck around and waited for the feeling to pass and then helped me calm back down again. From that day she called the attacks my temper tantrums because I had to go down to the floor before passing out. I think she’s the only person ever to have made me giggle about a panic attack!!!
That day the consultant spoke to me about anti-anxiety medication and we agreed that I’d try Sertraline. I was on 25mg for a month, and the first night I took one was absolutely horrendous. I spent the entire night wide awake, sweating ridiculous amounts, and convincing myself that I was crazy and I needed sectioning for my safety. I tried to read articles on my phone about anxiety because this had always helped my irrational thoughts become rational in the past, but my brain told me that if I picked up my phone the signal would interfere with my thoughts. A strange thing to feel, and after reading an article the day after I realised that these ‘all over the place’ thoughts are perfectly normal when starting out on medication. A month into taking them and my anxiety was still horrific. Possibly even worse. I couldn’t go to the hospital for my appointments for fear of another attack, I stopped going out with family, I stayed upstairs the entire time during the day and spent hours and hours fighting back anxious thoughts. How the hell was I expected to look after myself, 2 children and a newborn baby?
Eventually, at around 35 weeks pregnant I felt the effects of the higher dose of medication and I could feel myself becoming less anxious about irrational things, but I was still incredibly anxious about becoming a mum again; especially because this was the only baby I’ve had without my mum there by my side as a birthing partner. She was my rock when I was in labour and I wasn’t sure how I’d cope without her. Part of me told myself that if I couldn’t have her there, I didn’t want anyone to be there other than the midwife delivering my daughter. But I knew I needed support so I’d planned for my Auntie and my sister to be there.
1st June 2017 – I’d been awake most of the night with stupid Braxton hicks which I’d had for months, but the odd one this time was coupled with an ever so slight little back niggle which was new.
5:20am – Still getting the niggles, so I decide to time them to see if there’s any regularity to them whatsoever. 13 minutes, 8 minutes, 3 minutes, 10 minutes, 7 minutes, no nothing regular at all. I went to sleep for an hour or so and at 8:20am went for a wee and at the same time I lost my mucus plug. Labour could still be a few days away but I arranged for my mother in law to take the kids to her house just in case. She was at my house for half 9ish but decided that she would stay with me until my sister arrived at 12 ish, and my sister in law would take the girls with her, just so I wasn’t alone. By 10:30am the pains were getting a little stronger and around every 8 minutes for the majority of them. By 11 I could feel them starting to hurt me and the pains had quickly moved to every 4 minutes. I rang the labour ward to ask if I should go in, and after asking a series of birth related questions, and listening to me have pains, the nurse on the phone said to go in and be checked over. I rang my dad at 11:15 and asked if he could take me to the hospital and my mother in law would come too until my auntie and sister arrived. He said he’d be at my house at 12. 11:30 and I rang my dad back. My pains were now every 2 minutes and really hurting so I wanted to get to hospital sooner. He arrived just before 12 anyway and I felt like my pains were on top of each other and becoming excruciating. We arrived at hospital at 12:20pm and went straight to delivery suite. As soon as I got on the bed I needed to push. At 12:44pm my beautiful daughter was born, with my mother in law and my step mum by my side. The pair of them were amazing birth partners. My midwife Rachel, and the student midwife Sarah were absolutely amazing. Sarah was a first year but she delivered my baby girl into the world perfectly, leading me to need no aftercare for damage done down below. My auntie and sister arrived 15 minutes later and my auntie just burst out crying and apologised countless times for not being there. She couldn’t help it, she was on the way back from picking Deborah up from Manchester. She’s devastated that she missed the birth, but she’s an amazing auntie regardless.
My beautiful daughter was born weighing 7lb 8oz, 53cm long, and I named her Emily Louise.
She’s now 7 days old, and I can’t tell you how much I love her because the words don’t exist to describe it. I’ve felt zero anxiety since I gave birth to her; but I know it can rear it’s ugly head whenever it feels like it, but I absolutely love being a new mum again. Alex and Anya love the bones off her and Anya has taken to being a big sister amazingly well. There isn’t a jealous bone in her body.
Having another baby without my mum around has been one of the most difficult things to get my head round. Knowing my mum won’t ever meet her is heartbreaking to say the least, because she would absolutely adore Emily. I’m not a superstitious person at all but I truly believe that Emily is a gift from Mum. It almost feels like it’s her way of grabbing me by the shoulders, looking me in the eye and saying, “Alison, you can do this. You’re a strong person and you need to see for yourself how strong you can be even when you don’t try.” I’m so much calmer with Emily than I was after Anya’s birth and I’m honestly in love all over again.
In a weeks time it’ll be the one year anniversary of mum’s death. She will have been gone for 365 days. Of those days I’ve spent 268 of them pregnant, 7 days of them being a new mum, and every second of every day missing my mum like crazy, all while suffering from the most crippling anxiety ever, and having to open up to a lot more people this time round because Mum isn’t here to help. But guess what ..?
I’m still here.
I’m doing amazing.