Before you dive in to reading this post, please bear in mind that these are just my own personal feelings. Having never been pregnant before, I am sharing all the things I have felt along this journey in as open and honest a way as possible. This post stays true to that mantra.
Pregnancy is so many things. Pregnancy is exciting. It is frightening. It is shocking. Pregnancy is testing, trying, a beauty and a blessing. But there is one thing that I never thought pregnancy would be. Pregnancy is lonely.
Not that I'm not used to being alone. I grew up as an only child with no brothers or sisters for company. This is where my imagination comes from. If I didn't have anybody to talk to, I would create friends, write stories, and surround myself with toys who I filled with as much life as if they were real, living things. Away from home, I made friends. At school. On holiday. Language barriers never an issue, abroad I'd find children of a similar age and just mesh with them. We didn't have a clue what was going on, but friendships were created. My friends, although not many, became an extension of my own family.
It is still the case to this day. I love my friends wholeheartedly and beyond measure. When they hurt, I hurt. When they are happy, I celebrate with them. I cherish each and every one and if I ever think I have hurt them, well....I'm pretty much inconsolable. Without them I would be lost. I wouldn't be me. I wouldn't be whole anymore. The phrase "sisters before misters" resonates powerfully with me, and with everything we have been through, I never take friendships for granted.
Which is why writing this post is incredibly difficult for me. Blame it on the third trimester emotions, but for the past nine months I have found myself not knowing where to place me anymore. And it is something I haven't been able to articulate, thus separating myself from my friends. Unintentionally of course, but it is something that has made me realise that the road to mummyhood is not only a blessing, it is also bloody lonely.
There have been only two others in my friendship circle who have had babies. And they made this journey a few years ago. So going into this, I was on my own from the start. It's no secret that the first and even part of the second trimester were very frightening times for both me and Ryan. But I underplayed, turning to Google for answers because there weren't really a lot of people I could talk to. From unexplained bleeding to amniotic bands to secondary sacs, changes in movement patterns impromptu visits to the EPAU, it all became a bit much. I let my constant longing for positivity take over, and felt the need to put on a brave face, only letting Ryan see how much it was getting to me and take the brunt of my distraught state. I didn't want to burden people with my worries. I didn't want to admit I wasn't coping very well.
It's partly down to me. I'm too stubborn and independent to admit when I need support. I don't like to ask. But it wasn't and still isn't easy to ask people for what I really need. Especially now. Some of you may know, and some may not, but my coming into this world wasn't the best experience, and now that the finish line for my pregnancy is near, I am in a constant state of fear that something will go wrong. It is something that made me so scared at the start that immediately I was put down to go and see a consultant midwife who would help me write my birth preferences and help squash my concerns. Oh, and to put a cherry on top of this great situation, I am also not the biggest fan of hospitals, so, as you can imagine, as I inch closer to D-day, I feel more and more out of my depth with no idea what to expect.
It is a time where I need the pregnancy and me to be seen as separate. And it is a situation where I think it can be difficult to make the distinction. Yes, my mummy hat will soon be on, but that doesn't mean it can't ever be removed. Underneath it all I am still the girl who lives for champagne Fridays, loves dancing until her toes go numb, and makes jokes that nobody finds funny. Does being a parent mean that that girl has to go away? For good? I'm scared of being forgotten as the person I was but instead will be seen as the hat I wear. Will she be lost forever?
It's unquestionable that soon she will take second rung. The baby will be the centre of attention. I expect that. I want that. A first grandson for every parent of ours, and the newest baby for my friendship circle. But after the cooing, the cuddles, and the kisses, will I start to feel like me again? Will this pang of loneliness linger? Or will I be able to go back to popping open the prosecco occasionally, giggling over celebrity crushes and past nights out with my friends? Can that separation of lives ever be made again?
I suppose I'm scared of losing my friends. I'm scared that things will have to change and I'll be left behind. Because I already feel that has happened ever so slightly. And this is where this has sprung from. Combine my stubborn Capricorn nature and my inability to travel to see loved ones as much as I used to, I miss everybody. But I just can't build up the courage to admit that to anyone. A simple "would you mind popping over to see me for a cup of tea" has turned into the hardest question to ask because at the end of the day, everyone has their own lives, their own issues and their own plans, and I don't want to get in the way.
The road to mummyhood is paved with so many blessings, and so many slabs of scary thoughts that it can be hard to keep it together without tripping up over something. And feeling lonely is where I have stumbled the most. So to all friends, loved ones and family member of a mummy-to-be, please remember the girl she once was, as well as seeing her as the parent she has and wants to be.