It's been a while, I'm sorry...
Just when my blog was gaining some traction, I had to stop. The reason I stopped is that I became pregnant and it was not expected. 'Oh, what a lovely surprise' they said. 'Fantastic news' they exclaimed. 'You must be so excited!' they insisted. But the truth was, all of that was so far away from anything I was feeling. I looked at my boy barely a year old and I mourned the time I would not be able to give him, I watched him suffer from separation anxiety and generally hate new environments and people and wondered how on earth I would cope if the next one was the same?
And so, that is how I spent my first trimester - worrying. In the second trimester I damaged my back and I was out for four months. Bed rest due to a mass of nerves that had gathered at the base of my spine resulting in a condition called Cauda Equina (I will do a more detailed blog post on this as there isn't much online and it wasn't pleasant). Agony does not begin to explain what I went through, and it was in those agonising months that I began to feel alone as the offers for help with my heavy toddler dwindled and I struggled to cope day to day. I barely had time to think about my poor girl growing inside me with all of the external stressors that were attacking my brain on a daily basis, so when I was once again diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes I damn near had a breakdown. Woe is me, the world is against me and I hate everybody. No one cares, no one understands and most significantly I didn't know how to improve my situation. I had crowds of people around me smiling at me and telling me that I was glowing and filling me in on what I was missing during my time off but the cold, hard fact was that all they were doing was drowning out my desperate urge to tell someone, anyone, that I wasn't coping. I would smile, laugh that this must be a girl because I look so hideous (cue: NO, YOU LOOK FABULOUS! Meanwhile my ashy complexion all but left an ashy trail behind me) and politely enquire about how they were.
Would you like to know a secret?
'Tis a truth universally acknowledged that all those women that be with child must be in a constantly and persistently blissful state, and speak only of the blessings that they are grateful for and the love they are now all consumed with.
Because of this, very rarely do people actually ask a pregnant woman how she is. People care, don't get me wrong, but usually they will say any of the following, in this general order:
How far along are you?
When are you due?
What symptoms have you had?
Are you starting to show yet?
Oh wow, you're really starting to show, this is really happening isn't it!
Blimey, are you sure there's only one in there?
Is it starting to be uncomfortable?
You look so uncomfortable?
Is s/he here yet? (repeat ad nauseam until baby arrives)
But what of those of us who do not feel that way? Why does no one say, are you ok? It's an open question and the woman can then take that wherever she sees fit, but to ask a pregnant woman how she is without relating it to her unborn child is so rare and yet so necessary. It is, however, a fun way to introduce the expectant mother to the fact that she no longer matters, her sole purpose is the survival and happiness of her child. What an isolating prospect.
I love my daughter, with all that I have. Now that she is here I can't imagine a world without her, but the fact that I struggled doesn't make me less of a mother, it doesn't make me a bad mother, it just means I struggled. That's all, it really is that simple.
Post natal depression, post traumatic stress disorder, post partum psychosis, the baby blues. It's all real, it affects so many of us and more and more women are beginning to open up about it but it's not enough, it won't be enough until the stigma is removed from those of us who aren't reacting the way society says we should, for those of us who are struggling and most importantly for those of us who are doing a bloody fantastic job if one would but only take the time to let us know, and help a little if we need.
So, beautiful person reading this whether you be a mummy, mum to be, or simply a fellow sufferer of the human condition, you are truly not alone. I never thought these things would affect me but it has, and if you are suffering mentally for whatever reason know with the greatest certainty that it is not your fault. You did nothing wrong. There is hope.
I hope this blog post finds you well and, if not, I hope it leaves you better.