I have wanted to talk and talk and talk about this baby for so long. I have been bubbling up with shock, excitement, tears, emotion – threatening to pour from my mouth any second. We all seem to do it, but it does seem funny and strange, all-in-one, to go through three months of pregnancy – the biggest news you could ever hope to share – in secret. We struggle, we are sick, we are tired, and we watch our waistbands thicken and our breasts grow full and tender, and we do it with a facade in place.
This is my last baby. I already know that. I just ‘know’. I am not saying that temptation might not arise again when this baby is born and growing. But three is our magic number. And I feel like, as a mother, it would be my limit too. We will manage. And we will survive financially. Without too much struggle I hope. And I also feel like the way our family works will be very ‘Goldilocks’ and feel “just right”.
But as it’s my third, I also want to document it all the way I’d like to. I’m going to save weekly updates and things like that for YouTube, because I find it much easier to talk about how I’m doing in that moment. But here I’d like to go through my emotions. My pregnancy diary, if that makes any sense?
This time around I have more worry than I’ve ever had before. After Daisy’s surprise entrance into the world, with no chance to prepare ourselves for the enormity of a NICU stay and a poorly baby, we were firm that, should we ever have another, we wanted to know the score.
It would never change our choice to have a baby. If this baby, in October, when our specialist scan at St Mary’s Hospital in Manchester takes place, is given the diagnosis of Stickler Syndrome, then we will do everything we can to be ready. We will still love and adore them. But extra bags will be packed. And extra supplies bought. Specialist bottles. And sensor monitors for breathing. And we will prepare to help them grow strong, just like we helped their sister.
But I’m scared.
I really am.
I wasn’t ready to be pregnant yet. Ironically, the week I found out was the week I finally had my appointment to discuss my mental health with my GP, and I was diagnosed with PTSD, as a NICU parent. And I already knew that, in the depths of my tummy, grew a little human. And I was terrified that each time, more and more of me would crumble away and I wouldn’t cope.
I remember finding out. I had a funny few days previous. Queasiness. Just not feeling right. But I didn’t want a baby yet, so I couldn’t be pregnant. But as these symptoms began to increase, I took a test and almost threw it away without looking at it. I really didn’t think I could be. But I was. A cheap internet strip test. Could it be trusted? My best friend and I raiding Waitrose at prime school run time and hiding a Clear Blue test under my armpit for fear of seeing someone we knew.
She entertained Daisy while I peed on a stick (and my hand) and found myself sweating and shaking in the downstairs toilet. I walked out. We saw the hourglass on screen. And placed it out of sight and waited.
We looked. And I couldn’t believe what I was looking at.
I was initially so shocked. I didn’t remember any snapped or broken condoms. This didn’t happen to practically married couples did it? I couldn’t actually process it. I called Mark and told him at work. We said the ‘s-word’ a lot. And he said: “Well, we wanted a third anyway. We’ll be fine.”
But all I could think about was ‘what if?’
There was no doubt that we would have this baby. We wanted another. But I had been working on improving the way I felt. My body, I lost so much weight. My mind. I was trying to give myself time.
I spent a lot of time crying. I spent a lot of time reading. I spent a lot of time comparing symptoms between my previous pregnancies. I spent a lot of time thinking forward to March and where my family would be, who might be able to help us, and how we’d manage with two children at home, in the event that our third would be in hospital.
I looked at the breast pump that lies at the bottom of Daisy’s wardrobe and I thought about having to pump again for my baby. And whether I could do it? I wondered if I could sleep properly again next to a sats machine that used to beep and send me frantically clawing at my baby to see if she was still breathing. Whether I could do another NPA tube change and watch my baby struggle as I pinned them down to try and give them the ability to breathe again, while feeling like I was torturing them.
But then I spent a lot of time hating myself because I was pregnant and that was a gift. And my child would most likely come home and thrive just like their sister had done. Like I had done. And I was lucky. I knew that. But it didn’t antidote my worries at the time.
In its most basic (and maybe even selfish) form I was desperate for the chance to give birth, that final push, the release, the sudden emptiness of your stomach and then the sudden fullness of your arms as your baby fills them. Warm, wet, mewling. I wanted to try and breastfeed again. I wanted to remember what it was like to just have a baby. I wanted to just go home with them.
In the weeks, rather months, that have followed since that pregnancy test, I have come to terms with the 50% chance of that not happening. As a friend told me last night, a friend in the same position as I am right now, it’s like a train. We are on a train. We can’t get off. There are no stops except for the final destination. We know where we are going, but we don’t know what exactly waits there for us. But we wouldn’t choose to get off, even if we could.
So I am determined to treat this final pregnancy, as I did the previous two. I want to celebrate. I don’t want to wish it away. I want to share our story, because it’s all I have been searching for in the past two years. Stories of people like us. When did their babies go home? Did they have multiple babies like mine? Were they okay? Were the parents okay?
And I am also more than aware that one day, my sweet daughter, the closest person in my life to me as genetics go, may have to go through this too. And so this is for her too.
And lastly it’s for me. Because the journey to motherhood has never been easy. No matter what path you take. But it’s still worth talking about. It’s still worth remembering. And it’s still beautiful.
And I still can’t wait to meet this tiny person.
I saw you wiggling away the other day. You waved. You opened your little mouth. Stretched out your legs. Nodded your head in time to what your dad and I imagined to be some little womb song. And I loved you.