It doesn’t feel real.
This time last year I was so upset and down and disheartened that I was “celebrating” another birthday not being a mum. Although I wasn’t actually celebrating, I was just getting through my day. Another supposedly significant day that just didn’t feel worth marking, not when I still longed for the present that felt like it was never coming.
And yet, here I am today, with the only present I’ve wanted for years kicking away inside me (actually, he was, but I think I’ve rocked him to sleep now).
I’m typing this in Ollie’s room. I’m sitting in the rocking chair in which I I will soon be cradling him in my arms. It’s perfectly silent. The sun is streaming through the window onto my lap (his room is the sunniest in the house). I have a Yankee Candle lit (Lake Sunset) – a present from Ollie this morning – that is filling the room with a subtle sweet scent.
Dare I actually say it, but in this precise moment, I feel content.
I am refusing to cry anything but happy tears today. The birthday cards from Dave and Ollie triggered me straight off of course, with the sentiment that he’s given me the best present he ever could. And that is true.
I remember being so hung up over my age last year. That I was getting really old and that time was slipping away from me with my dreams of a family getting further out of reach.
Now, today, I still don’t feel 32. I never feel my age because I don’t think I ever look it. My fears of midwives and medical professionals commenting on my age for a first time mum are still unfounded. And my body clearly thinks I’m still up to the job.
This 3rd trimester has been a bit tumultuous to say the least. It literally began on my 28th week with hip and back pain. This resulted in 3 days of painful attempts at work, forcing me into being signed off. The resulting time at home coincided with some blips in Dave’s mental health, which was in turn affecting mine. The extra time on my hands to over think about things, and cabin fever, combined with hormones has meant quite a few tears over the past month.
I’m keeping it in perspective though. Dave’s most recent blip on Tuesday seems to have passed. Whether he’s genuinely ridden out his latest crisis or made the effort to put it to one side so that my birthday isn’t ruined, I appreciate it nonetheless. I was a bit up and down during my mum’s birthday yesterday but I’m feeling a lot better today. A lot of love from a lot of different people has been shown towards me and I’m thankful for that.
I’m putting in a lot of effort to be mindful of the things I am thankful for at the moment, even turning the negatives into positives.
I’m thankful for the time off to bond with Ollie and get everything prepared for his arrival without having to squeeze it into a few weeks of maternity leave if I hadn’t been signed off. I still haven’t put the teacher guilt to bed yet because it’s just not like me to go from 100mph one day to 0mph the next. But I tell myself that I won’t get this time back. I may never be pregnant again. And when I return to work in January I will be working my arse off to juggle being a mum and a teacher so I need to cherish these precious moments now while I can.
I’m thankful for the support the NHS has given me with my hip and back issues. And even though there is daily pain and little sleep at night because of it, I can rest as much as I need to during the day. And I’m not debilitated permanently – I will be back to normal once the little man is here. I’m looking forward to getting my fitness back, and getting out in the summer sun for walks with Ollie and solo runs whilst Dave takes care of him.
I’m thankful for my friends and family, who have all shown such support, patience, understanding and generosity to me. Especially my parents – I’ve forked out a lot of money kitting out Ollie with what he needs, but my folks have gifted some very generous things too. But not only that, they have said (at their own will) that they will look after Ollie 5 days a week when I return to work (on a trial basis) which will save me and Dave hundreds of pounds each month in childcare costs. But that’s not what I’m even the most happy about; it’s the fact that my son will get the same childhood experiences and love that I got, in the village that I grew up in, with his grandparents. He couldn’t want for a better arrangement when he’s still a young baby. There will be plenty of time for childminders and nurseries and daycare settings when he’s a little older.
I’m thankful to be able bale to have so much maternity leave in this country. Friends of mine in America will be returning to work after only 1 or 2 months and they will be working right up to the point where they go in labour. I will get 7 months at home with Ollie. As much as I’d love the full 12 months I am allowed, finances won’t allow for it.
I’m thankful for Dave. Even when his depression and anxiety can make living with him very tense and emotionally difficult, he’s my partner of 11 years and husband of nearly 4. He’s the father of my child and he dotes on us both. Our marriage has difficulties like all marriages do, but we work through them. I could be in a loveless marriage, but I’m not. And sunshine will always follow the rain.
And I’m thankful for Ollie (who’s now woken up and jabbing away under my tits!) We honestly never knew when or if he was ever coming into our lives. But he is. 7 weeks if he’s punctual. Longer if he’s anything like his mum who was comfy and happy for an extra 16 days beyond her due date (sorry mum!) He may bless us with an earlier arrival. I don’t mind. I’m just grateful he’s coming at all.
And I think that is what has made me particularly teary and emotional over the past few weeks. It’s not hormones, but the realisation that, imminently, our lives are about to change forever.
After over 11 years of there only being us 2, there will always be 3 (hopefully more, if we’re lucky). It doesn’t matter how much we’ve longed for and tried for a family, when it actually happens it’s still a massive life adjustment.
Things will never be the same again.
Next birthday will be the most surreal one yet. I’ll have a 10 month old.
And I’ll be 33.
I don’t know what’s more scary to be honest…