A Mothers Guilt
Isn't it funny how when you become a mother, everything makes you feel guilty? The last few weeks, bedtimes have been really difficult, Dottie no longer goes to sleep without a real fuss, and I find it incredibly stressful. This last weekend, without going into details, has also been challenging to say the least. Recently, because of a new long-awaited baby in the family, and a friend's brave blog post, I have been wondering, if perhaps I am not as good a mother as someone who has known that unrelenting need for a child, a yearning that is with them constantly until it is fulfilled.
Photo by Emily W Photography
I never really felt I wanted children, it was only when my niece was born, that I started to consider it, so without much thought, Greg and I decided we might as well give it a go. I genuinely didn't expect to be able to get pregnant, or at least not very easily. I was diagnosed with endometriosis not long after we got married, and I knew that could effect fertility, my monthly cycle is also pretty erratic to say the least. Not long after we started 'trying' or not 'not trying' really, on a Saturday afternoon in town, I tried on a dress, it was quite fitted, and I remember my boobs looked absolutely huge in it, Greg told me to buy it, and I said I wanted to wait until after my period so I could try it without the massive boobs! He then suggested buying a pregnancy test seeing as it had been a couple of weeks. I half-heartedly agreed and we headed home.
By the time we got there, I was desperate for a wee, I also happened to be on my mobile to my sister. So being it was her, I didn't let that stop me going, and I thought I may as well take the test at the same time, I was certain I wasn't pregnant after all. Well you can guess what happened, my sister was the first to hear my reaction as we were still on the phone, Greg thought I had flooded the bathroom (we had just had it done up). I was pregnant, our first month of trying! I hung up the phone and cried, I was overwhelmed by fear, I didn't want a baby, I wasn't ready, I couldn't be a mother. Those feelings lasted for the first three months.
At around seven months, I went for a routine mid-wife appointment, and was told I was measuring small. She thought the baby had stopped growing, so sent me for a scan. As it turned out, our daughter was absolutely fine, I just carry very small. But waiting for that scan, I was once again overwhelmed with fear, not for the same reasons, this time, I was terrified I was going to lose the baby I had already come to love with a passion.
When Elvia was born, it was really hard, I struggled, nothing can prepare you for the reality of having a baby, and all my original fears re-surfaced. I got through it without the anti-depressants I was prescribed, I gave up breast feeding rather than sit there crying whilst she cried too because she couldn't latch on due to reflux (another thing to feel guilty about), she started to sleep, slowly life settled into a routine, and it all got easier.
But, still we decided, one child was enough, I only wanted one, Greg said he only wanted one too, whether that was true I'm not sure. I am terrible at pregnancy, nine months of sickness, pre-eclampsia, a c-section and then the aftermath were enough to put me off trying again. And even without those things, I never had that yearning for another child. I was quite happy, I only wanted one.
But when Elvia, was 5 years old, something happened, I got hit by a car, I was ok, on crutches for 5 months with ligament damage but that was it. I was lucky, however, it changed something, being reminded of your mortality does that. I thought perhaps I did want another child after all. Once again, Greg and I talked about it, not a long drawn out discussion, just a quick chat one evening. Three days later I was pregnant! This time the panic didn't last as long, but it was still there, what had we done, we had got used to moving on from the baby and toddler stage, did we really want to go through all that again, the total and utter exhaustion, the nappies, the tantrums.
This time, the pregnancy was even worse, I didn't keep any food down for the first 7 months, I had to get up in the night to throw up, and was sick every day until Dottie was born. She came three weeks early, I knew she would, good old mother's instinct. This time it was a natural birth, if you can call it that, 3 days labour, and ventouse, feels anything but natural. However afterwards, it was completely different, the bond was immediate. I cried when the mid-wife handed her to me. And despite already having another child to cope with as well, I didn't struggle at all in those first few months. Dottie had a dairy allergy and silent reflux (even harder to diagnose), and would only sleep upright in a sling or lying on me, but even that didn't phase me. I was exhausted, there's no chance to rest when you have an older child. But aside from that, I was absolutely fine, in fact, I felt pretty damn happy.
I have digressed rather considerably from my original point, easily done when you write about something personal. Am I a worse parent because I never ached to become a mother? Well tonight, as I squeezed into Dottie's bed when she couldn't sleep because of fire work noise, and lay behind her, my face buried in her hair, her tiny hand grasped around my thumb, I knew that no-one could love a child more. And when I walk along the street with her sister, who at nearly nine still reaches her hand out to mine, and everytime she does, it makes my heart swell, I know that it is also true of her. So no, I am not always the perfect parent, but I don't have to feel guilty about the fact they both took me a little by surprise.