Baby Number 3

I’m Frightened of It Happening Again

It’s Friday afternoon, Daisy is sleeping, and I have spent a good ten minutes staring into space. I know that a more sensible person would be productive, or even make herself a brew and buy baby clothes online, but my heart just isn’t in it.

I have been counting down to being 20 weeks pregnant for many reasons. The half-way mark – though both of my babies have been varying degrees of overdue. The anatomy scan – seeing this baby boy (I still marvel at the thought of having a second son). The hope that I would feel better by then – which I do (praise be to the Pregnancy Gods).

But mainly, I have been counting down to finding out the health of our son.

Finding out whether my genetics, and my syndrome had gained control, in the second that he began to exist. With Daisy’s conception, I imagined Mark’s sperm entering my egg and being held at gun-point. “We run the roost around here, kid.” And so Stickler syndrome took hold. And that was that.

This time, I like to hope that Mr Sperm burst in with back-up and grenades, and pushed Stickler Syndrome out into my womb to die.

It sounds comical, written down like that, but it doesn’t seem all that funny at all.

It’s hard for me to openly talk about how I feel. Because, ultimately, Stickler Syndrome affected me in the early months, or I suppose I could stretch that to ‘years’, of my life. Not much more. And I had no care for my medical history, or what I supposedly had, until I became a mother to my second child. And suddenly I was hit by the enormity of what I had. The enormity of what my parents must have gone through with me. And the absolute shame in a) feeling careless and not ever expecting it to happen to me, and b) for what I had done to my daughter.

I now have an 18 month little girl, who, in all honesty, is just the best little girl in the world. At least to me. She has been through more in her short life than most. She is fascinating to raise, a wonder to love. She is tough. She falls often, on unsteady toddler feet, and tumbles that would have left her brother in tears at the same age, are met instead with a slight wince, and then a quiet stumble to right herself and dash off to continue whatever adventure she was on at the time.

She is eating, when once she would not, and could not. She drinks and can suckle, when once a tube did that job for her. She breathes and fills her lungs with air, as naturally as you or I, when once upon a time, she could have obstructed, ran low on oxygen, or even died without her NPA, and regular suction and care.

She can talk. She asks to brush her teeth. She puts things in the bin. Responds to instructions. Answers back. Offers opinion. Says: “I love you.” She may need speech therapy as many do, after their cleft repair, but then, she’ll no doubt breeze through that as well.

I have loved her fiercely from the moment I knew she existed. More when she first stirred within me. More when I held her for the first time. And more than I ever thought I could when I was told she was just like her mother. Her fate was sealed. The closest genetic relation I will ever have, is her.

I feel a duty to make her happy. I changed everything to be here. And I wonder if I will ever feel like I have made it up to her?

I adore her so much.

But I didn’t want that for her. I don’t want her to have to go through this as a mother herself one day. And I don’t want it for my son either.

Right now, as I type, he squirms, gently, on occasion. My sleepiest babe in the womb. The one least likely to make a fuss. He is the only one who knows the score. As he sleeps.

And sometimes I want it to stay that way. Just never know. Ignorant bliss. Just have this last pregnancy and enjoy it. Just countdown the weeks. And buy baby things. Get excited.

But instead I bite the cuticles of my nails until they are sore. I stare into space. And I run through eventualities in my head.

Until now, I had just looked at the numbers. 50% chance of a boy. 50% chance of a girl. 50% chance of Stickler Syndrome. 50% chance of not. I already have a non-Stickler syndrome boy. And I already have a Stickler syndrome girl. The odds are even. And there is nothing I can do about his.

I also find myself hating myself somewhat. Feeling upset, angry, jealous, silly. I know that, as situations go, to have three children, who, eventually, will all be healthy and happy and well – I am lucky. I know much worse goes on. Sometimes people have told me in the past. And it’s only a twist of a blade, because I’m all too aware of it myself.

Why can I not just be brave?

Because I am selfish?

I am afraid.

I just want to give birth. Cry and look up at the sky and thank whoever is listening for a healthy baby. Feel my body shake with adrenalin as I try and stroke his vernix-covered head. Kissing him gently and trembling with the shock, relief and overwhelming joy of birthing another baby into this world. I want to feel Mark’s lips on mine. See the tears in his eyes, through blurry eyes of my own. Have a midwife tell me: “He’s okay. He’s healthy! There’s no cleft palate!” And I will sob. Every time I have imagined that moment, I have cried. And I have imagined it often in the last few weeks. I will put our son to the breast and cry with relief as he latches. And I will be able to ring up my family and tell them the news that they want and deserve to hear: “He’s okay!” He will come home. And we will be just another average family, with just another average newborn. Blending into the crowds. No messages of sadness from loving friends and family. No weeks of wondering when he will come home. No fighting and battling a diagnosis. No howling broken sobs in bed, with empty arms and an empty stomach. No strange looks in supermarkets when your finally-home baby is hidden by tubes and medical equipment fills your buggy basket. No fighting to help those tubes be removed, one-by-one. No community care. No cleft visits. No cleft repair. No PTSD.

I’d do it all again for him.

But I don’t want to.

I really don’t want to.

And so, I don’t know what that makes me?

Am I weak? Am I selfish? Am I stupid? Am I wrong?

How frightening it is to face it. And how frightening still it is to admit how I feel.

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  • Reply
    Becky Brombley
    20th October 2017 at 1:47 pm

    I’m not surprised you feel scared, anxious and worried, you’re a brilliant mother and I think it’s only natural to have these feelings. Every mother wants the best for their children and having them in hospital is never what you’d choose. My third child had a week long neonatal stay and it traumatised me, there was a point where I truly believed I’d be explaining to my older two why I wasn’t bringing a baby home. But now I feel guilty for those feelings because ultimately she’s healthy now and we were only in a week, we got off lightly. But a friend of mine told me that , there are loads of people going through stuff, some seemingly worse than us, but it doesn’t mean what we face isn’t crap. It’s ok to have these feelings, it’s bound to be scary and no one judges you or thinks anything less of you. In fact, I think it speaks volumes of you as a mother, it shows just how much you truly care for your children. But for your sake, I’m crossing my fingers for a healthy baby this time, you deserve it my lovely. X

  • Reply
    20th October 2017 at 1:51 pm

    Nothing that I say will help, but I will say that I think it is entirely normal that you feel this way. Of course you love every part of Daisy, but you wouldn’t wish her start on anyone… and that’s okay. As I know I’ve said to you before; what will be, will be and the cards have been dealt. And of course you will deal with whatever comes your way. I’m crossing everything for you, and newest little Taylor. But just know that you have this Charlotte, whatever happens, you’ve got this!!!!

  • Reply
    20th October 2017 at 2:40 pm

    You are strong and you love your children fiercely. These feelings do not make you selfish or weak, quite the opposite. You want an easier time with this baby, no one can say that you shouldn’t feel that. Anyone would. You are not stupid either! I understand why you feel this way but just know, whatever happens, you have a great family, a wonderful network of friends and a very loyal army of followers who will all be there to support you. But I think, he will be fine. X 🙂

  • Reply
    20th October 2017 at 4:41 pm

    Think your bio is right, you really are a nice person. You will worry because it is in your nature to care lots, but you will overcome anything life throws your way and so will your new baby. I really hope it all works out for you and you get some peace at the 20 week scan xxx

  • Reply
    Kimberley | Oh Just My Little One
    20th October 2017 at 7:13 pm

    It makes you a mother and oh such as brave one. I’ll have everything crossed for you on Tuesday my lovely x.

  • Reply
    22nd October 2017 at 4:40 pm

    It’s very romantic to go into a situation, not knowing the pain, the trial, the cost and to commit to it.

    It’s quite brave to go into the same situation, having experienced the trial, knowing the pain, having already paid the cost and to be willing to go forward.

  • Reply
    31st October 2017 at 11:54 pm

    Whatever will be will be. You planned this third baby knowing the risks. I’m not sure if I would have taken that risk having been what you’ve already been through but that’s just me. I don’t think it makes you brave as you have gone into this with your eyes wide open. You knew the odds were even and wanted this third baby anyway. At least you know what to expect whatever will be.

  • Reply
    Susan Mann
    4th January 2018 at 5:07 pm

    Huge congratulations lovely. I have no words of wisdom. I wish you and your gorgeous bundle a healthy pregnancy and I hope all is ok. Hugs x

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