My “journey” to having my happy, healthy baby was not an easy one.
An emergency appendectomy combined with PCOS meant my chances of falling pregnant “naturally” were slim. Dealing with that took some time. Whilst on the waiting list for IVF, we were offered “Clomid” to try, with the consultant plainly stating “this probably won’t work, but try it anyway” – sometimes I wonder if anyone ever considers suggesting to these consultants that perhaps they should take some form of course in tact and diplomacy! Thankfully, for us, Clomid worked. First round! (Incidentally, the world of “fertility treatment” is a closed one until you start openly talking about it… which is an irritation in itself, probably best saved for a separate post.)
To say that my husband and I were overjoyed is an understatement!
My pregnancy itself was smooth. I had morning sickness, but fairly mildly in the grand scheme of things… but I can’t honestly say I “enjoyed” being pregnant! I was grateful, thankful and happy that I would be having a baby – please don’t misunderstand me… but I did not enjoy the experience of housing another human!
When it came to booking ante-natal classes, the NHS offering was inconvenient to say the least! Whilst free, they were in the middle of a Wednesday afternoon, meaning a whole day off work for both my husband and I… “Don’t worry”, said the Midwife, “You are entitled to time off for these classes. Your husband isn’t though.”
Great. So I can take an entire day off work (I am a teacher in a secondary school so taking a day off is actually more hassle than it’s worth and leads to twice as much work to do on your return!) to attend a birth class, but I can’t do this with my husband? The person I will be sharing all this with? The person who also might just possibly benefit from the information? Well that’s helpful! Not.
So, we arrived at the NCT. A paid-for class. A place where you essentially pay to make “mum-friends”. Grumpy about the fact that the NHS was not able to provide any form of convenient class to those who are working through their pregnancy, we begrudgingly paid for the ante-natal course. And I am glad I did.
Arriving bright and early for my first class, the “women-only” class, on what would turn out to be an eventful Friday (more on that later), I was nervous. What would the other women there be like? Would they be my age? Or at least near it? Would I fit in? Would they even like me?
I can safely say that I love them all! I was lucky enough to be matched with similar-minded, prosecco-loving women! Women who had careers. Women who had the same worries and anxieties as me. Despite us all being from different backgrounds and having an age range spanning 10 years, we all seemed to get on like a house on fire… and today 6 out of the 8 of us still regularly meet up. Our WhatsApp group has been my lifeline… especially during the 3am feeds when no one else is awake and available to speak to!
The same Friday as meeting all of these lovely ladies, I went into hospital in the early stages of pre-term labour. My baby was on her way… a whole month early. It appears that after hearing all of the essential information at that first NCT class, my body had decided it knew what it was doing and had served my baby her eviction notice. 5 days later after quite and intensive stay in hospital (more on that later too!), BG was born. At 10:11am, on 4th October weighing in at 4lbs 7oz (we think! Also more on this later!)
My husband and I were supposed to be at our joint NCT class on the Saturday and were strangely absent. I later learned that some of my lovely NCT ladies thought perhaps I didn’t like them and so didn’t come back! We did attend the next group class though a week later, BG in tow… arriving to many surprised faces!
WhatsApp then became a staple part of my day. My NCT ladies are awesome. Each one inspirational in their own way. Nothing quite prepares you for how isolating having a baby can be if you don’t have an outlet to speak to people who are going through the same things. Some of my friends have children, but they are all scattered across the country and none of them had newborns… an essential prerequisite for it to be acceptable to text someone at 2am to say “I’m awake again!”. Cue the NCT Winter Mummys group.
As the first in the group to have my baby… there were naturally a fair few questions from the others! But someone always has to go first right? We’re all (nearly) a year on from our fateful first meeting.
We still regularly meet up under the premise of having coffee and cake, but usually it ends up being prosecco and cake. We are there for one another. We are supportive during the dark, “this is a bit shit, isn’t it?” moments. We join the celebrations of firsts with each other – first roll, first crawl, first ‘word’, first teeth, first foods, first steps. We are there to celebrate the little things, BG finally NOT being sick on the mat at Gymboree for example! We are there for the “what did you do when…” moments. We are there for the “I’m feeling a bit useless” moments. We are there for the times where, mainly guided by hormones, our partners have irritated us (usually for no particular reason, or for something so insignificant, someone without children would look at you with WTF written all over their face). We are there to comfort each other and help each other deal with “Mum-guilt”. We are there through the external life events which are horrendous (in the past 12 months I myself have suffered 4 bereavements, 2 of which were traumatic and unexpected, and that’s just my year!).
These women, we women, discuss everything. We share. I probably overshare if I’m honest! We are there to bounce ideas, we are there to buffer the necessary ‘vents’ that come with being a mum (we all love our children, but bloody hell it’s hard work!). And of course, we are there for the “Mum’s Night Off” nights out! We are there to provide sanity and normality. And whilst I still have a network of “pre-parent” friends… very few of them actually have children, and whilst I love them all dearly and always will, there is something different about having friends who have actually just been through what you have been through or who are currently going through what you are going through. The positives and the negatives! I’m not sure many of my non-mum friends would be excited about BG finally accepting a bottle for example, or excited about BG feeding herself broccoli!
Ladies – I love you all! Here’s to many more years of friendship.