Those of you who know me, know I have 3 children whom I adore, and 2 wonderful grandsons
And many of you know that when I was young, and very career orientated, motherhood was the last thing I planned on.
But then there was that fateful flight home from holiday and the decision that changed and enriched my life.
Of course, when couples make the decision to start a family, they never consider that it will be anything but plain sailing. Sadly, for so many couples this is not the case, with some never having the joy of being parents.
And for us? Well, there was no reason to think it would be anything but simple. OH had already had a son from his previous marriage, and I was young… Relatively, and fit and healthy.
How wrong we were. Initially getting pregnant wasn’t a problem. Just maintaining one.
The first time I got pregnant was just before I was due to go into hospital to have my wisdom teeth extracted. (Considerably more painful and scary than childbirth!)
My GP had recently retired and I hadn’t yet met my new one…but thought I should go and see him. We met in the hospital car park as I was leaving after a night shift, and he was popping to do a round before morning surgery. I introduced myself and said why I needed to come to see him. He asked me if it was good news, and spent the next part of the conversation trying hard, and not very subtlety, to see if I was wearing a wedding ring! I made appointment, a pregnancy test was done and was positive, the dreaded wisdom teeth extraction was postponed, and once the ‘magic’ 12 week mark was reached we excitedly shared our happy news with family and friends. It was, what I thought, a perfect and straightforward pregnancy. No nausea or vomiting, no strange cravings, and not too much weight gain, and had felt those wonderful first ‘flutterings’
We were convinced it was a boy and had chosen a name. My little bump was DW ( Daniel William).
Then at 19 weeks the unthinkable happened. And although it’s over 30 years ago, the memory is still vivid today. I started to have terrible, crippling pains. A doctor came, not my own, he told me gently, that I was probably losing the baby, called an ambulance and I was ‘blue lighted’ into hospital 25 miles away. I was given some painkillers, had a big ‘nil by mouth’ post put over my bed, and told to “try and get some sleep”
I didn’t sleep.
The next morning I was told I was being sent for a scan. I tried to explain I hadn’t had anything to drink, but no one listened to me. So off I went. The sonographer sighed at me, said she couldn’t see anything because I hadn’t drunk enough. I tried explaining. Again. I wasn’t listened to. Again. I was sat in a corridor and given a jug of tepid water to drink. There I sat for about 40 minutes before being called in again. It was successful this time. But even though I asked what she could see, she just said “The doctor will be along to see you when you get back on the ward” which she did… And asked me what the sonographer had said. I replied “nothing” to which she sighed and said I suppose I’ll have to go and find out then. She came back and said that I was to remain on bedrest for rest of day and they’d rescan me the next day. I could eat and drink as I wanted.
I was on a general gynae ward and in a bed next to a girl who was in for a termination. I am not opposed to terminations, but did feel it was slightly thoughtless putting me next to her.
About an hour later, I still hadn’t been found anything to eat, and I started to have terrible pains again. I wanted to go to the toilet but wasn’t allowed to. However the ward had strict policy of no commodes or bedpans during visiting, so I tried to hang on until the pain was so bad I couldn’t any longer. The nurse reluctantly brought me a bedpan, and after I had cried to her that I was sure I was losing my baby said she supposed she should move me to a single ward. And that was where my first pregnancy ended. On my own. No one to hold my hand. No one to comfort me.
And ‘DW’, yes it was a boy, laid in the bedpan beside me for over an hour, because the nurse ‘forgot’ to come back to me. How ashamed I was of my profession at that moment.
I had surgery later that night and was discharged the next day. The nurse who discharged me said I should probably wait couple of months before trying again. I went home and packed away the baby stuff I’d already bought or been given, told family.
And wept. Convinced I had done something that had caused it.
People offered words of sympathy, when they weren’t crossing the road to avoid me. And I just ‘got on with it’ like you did.
About 5 months later I found myself pregnant again. It felt very different this time. I was constantly nauseous, couldn’t eat. My GP’s wife told me nausea and vomiting was the sign of a well implanted pregnancy. So I gladly put up with it. We waited 12 weeks again, and tentatively told a few people. At about 15 weeks I woke up and realised I didn’t feel sick. It was a lovely feeling… I ate breakfast and went to work. 2 hours later the pains started. And “DW” no 2 was no more. More surgery. More sympathy. More tears. More beating myself up.
Pregnancy number 3 only made it to 13 weeks, and number 4 to 11 weeks
So when I found I was pregnant again, I just sorted of waited for it all to go wrong. We didn’t tell anyone, buy anything, have any hope.
I was sick morning, noon, and night… But I had been before. I hardly put on any weight. I wasn’t allowed to work. Was confined to bed until 12 weeks passed. But they’d passed before too. I didn’t make any plans as where to have this baby, because I was convinced I never would. When my mum came round (I had to tell her, she’d guessed. Mums do these things, don’t they?) with nursery furniture and a whole drawerful of beautifully knitted goodies… (She was convinced it was a girl) I shouted at her.
We went on holiday to Spain, I didn’t tell the airline I was 26 weeks pregnant. No one knew. There was hardly anything to see. In Spain I fell in love with a shawl being knitted by an old Spanish lady. She persuaded my OH to buy it, and told me I was having a baby girl who would have black hair and blue eyes. I laughed… And morbidly thought I could always bury the baby in it. I was so convinced it would still go wrong.
And I was still being sick morning, noon and night.
When I came back I suddenly looked pregnant! People noticed, but still didn’t really know what to say to me. In case.
But, amazingly, at 41 weeks and 3 days our beautiful black-haired, blue-eyed baby girl arrived in the world as the whole obstetrics team sang ‘Come on Eileen’ at me!
I just held her, for hours. Waiting for someone to come and tell me it was a mistake, she wasn’t mine. But they didn’t. I was a mother. At last. It was unbelievably amazing.
So was that the end of it? After all we’d got this pregnancy thing sorted now, hadn’t we? So when we thought that we’d try for a another baby we stupidly thought nothing could go wrong again.
It did. Another 2 miscarriages later, both early ones this time, and 5 years later son1 was born. Son2 took another 5 years to make an appearance. Though, thankfully, no miscarriages this time.
I consider myself incredibly lucky to have had the privilege of being a mother. My children are my world.
But I shall never forget the little ones I lost.