For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a mother. I wanted a baby bump. I wanted to hold my newborn baby. I wanted to do everything right and love every moment. I wanted to raise a child.
Boo, if you ever read this: I love you with all my heart. The start of a journey is never the same as the end.
Life doesn’t always give you what you want.
My pregnancy with Boo was high risk. I was uncomfortable (to put it lightly) due to ICP and constantly fearful that Boo would be stillborn as a result. I had been told that the risk of still birth was 40% when I was diagnosed at 18 weeks. In truth, the risk is far far less but I couldn’t get that rogue statistic out of my thoughts. For me, birth was the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s all I focussed on. I didn’t think about the reality of having my baby in case that reality didn’t happen. All I wanted was for her to be born alive. And for me to sleep without the burning itch under my skin driving me to distraction. Despite years of longing, I stopped thinking about parenting and raising my daughter, and thought of birth as the end goal.
Boo was born. I was induced but it was quick – 1 hour 26 minutes from them breaking my waters to her being laid on my chest. She was here. I remember trying to see her face but the angle she was placed and all the wires I was wrapped up in meant I could only see the top of her head. I thought the rush of love would come when I saw her face. Then the pethidine I’d been jabbed with 20 minutes before she was born kicked in. I was high. Away with the fairies. I know I said some pretty embarrassing things to the consultant and midwives sewing up my nether regions.
My daughter was placed in the cot by my bed. We didn’t have our bags in because it had all gone so quickly (we were expecting it to take days) so Boo was wrapped in a hospital blanket. it looked scratchy and old. I stared at her in my drug fuelled haze and felt disappointment. I didn’t recognise her. She didn’t look like my baby. I didn’t know her face. There was no rush. My heart didn’t burst. She looked so alone in her cot so I asked M to hold her. I felt like we had been together in the world and now we were torn apart and both of us were totally alone. Side by side but isolated and apart.
I was worried. What did this mean? Why did I not get the feeling I was expecting?
During this time I’d also phoned my parents and they said they were coming over. They arrived and a midwife told us off. No visitors on the delivery suite. My parents were only permitted a quick hello and then they left. I know my memory of this makes it much worse than it was. But I was vulnerable and felt like I was doing something terribly wrong and all the midwives could see what an awful mother I was.
In all the excitement, it was posted online the Boo was born. Unfortunately, we hadn’t told all of M’s family yet. Most importantly we hadn’t told his brother. M was angry. I remember feeling like he would leave me because he too could see what I terrible mother I was.
I was sure everybody could see that I wasn’t brimming with love for my daughter. I felt anxious and alone.
We got to the post natal ward after midnight. Boo was wrapped in the hospital blanket in her cot next to my bed. I was on a hospital bed. There were bright lights everywhere and I couldn’t work out how to turn them off. M was told to leave. So there I was. A fraud of a mother. Alone. And wondering when the rush was coming.