Outset Of Motherhood Facing The Reality
Mother and Child
This is the story of how my life began as a single parent.
Growing up in the UK, nobody ever prepared me for becoming a mother, no body sat me down and told me of the darker side of parenting or what to expect. So when I fell pregnant with my first child at the grand old age of twenty, my whole world was turned upside down.
Everyone seemed very happy for me and I was congratulated by friends and acquaintances alike. 'oh how wonderful', 'how exciting' people would remark. I became inundated with stories of their own pregnancies and births and it seemed to me like this was going to a great part of my new life as an adult.
I already faced a huge challenge from the very start of my pregnancy and that was the father of my unborn child did not want the baby, he made it very clear that he wanted me to terminate my pregnancy, I decided I would keep the baby and raise him alone. So at twenty years old I began my journey as a lone mother. I went to midwife appointments and scans alone, I didn't attend antenatal classes because I didn't want to be the only mother there with no partner. At this point I was already feeling the judgements of others for not having a father for my unborn child and it wasn't a nice feeling at all. I felt very alone and somewhat abandoned. Friends that didn't have children of their own no longer called me, I had no job, no money and I was just about surviving on government handouts, not because I didn't want to work but because no body wanted to employ a pregnant girl and I would not of received maternity pay even if I had of got a job. I was effectively trapped in the government system and forced to stay there until a later time.
I had moved out of my mothers home a year before I fell pregnant and lived in a tiny bedsit which was full of mould and very damp. it was by no means perfect but at least I had somewhere to bring my baby home to.
I struggled through the pregnancy with hardly any money, I had no cooker, no washing machine, I couldn't afford maternity clothes so I squeezed my big bump into anything I could, borrowing clothes off my sister and mother because they were bigger than I was. I had no carpet and hardly any food, I boiled eggs in my kettle and used the kettle to fill up the bath when my gas ran out. It was a huge reality shock for me and I spent my whole pregnancy in a panic wondering how I was ever going to provide for my child. But I managed in the end, I got carpets, furniture and a cooker, I scrubbed the mould off walls for hours so it was a better place to bring my baby home to. I brought everything my baby needed and then waited for him to arrive.
There was no body to share the babies kicks with, there was nobody to rub my back when it ached, there was nobody to help shoulder the responsibility with, no body to hug me and tell me everything will be okay. There was only me and my little boy inside me. I can say that this struggle made a bond with my child that perhaps not many mothers feel, I needed him as much as he needed me and I couldn't wait for him to arrive.
As the due date grew nearer the fear of giving birth seemed to haunt me at every moment, I was terrified of the pain and I had no idea of what to expect. I decided to give birth to my child at my mothers house, this was the home I grew up in and the place I felt most at ease, I had been present at two hospital births already, that of my sister Lea-Anne and my best friend Mary-Ann and I had not liked the clinical room which was uncomfortable and the mothers giving birth had to lay on the bed until the baby came out. I wanted to walk around and have who ever I wanted there. so I told my midwife I wanted a home birth.
The babies due date came and went, I was feeling very nervous waiting for it to start and the next night I woke up to my first contraction. I was surprisingly calm about it, it was 2 am and I made sure I had a few more contractions before collecting my suit case and walking around the corner to my mothers house to give birth. Everything went pretty smoothly at first, I woke my mum and told her the baby was coming, the midwife arrived and I felt fairly relaxed. About seven hours in and ready to start pushing the babies heart beat dropped from 150 beats per minute down to just 50 beats per minute, an ambulance was called and the paramedics waited politely in the hallway of my mothers house waiting to whisk me off to the hospital at any moment. The midwife told me to sit on the floor and my mother and sister held my legs up by my head. 'Push!' said the midwife, I pushed and pushed but he wasn't coming out, the midwife looked at me she said ''your baby is in trouble, I need you to push on the next contraction,'' but I felt no more contractions so I just pushed and pushed with every bit of strength I had. He still wasn't coming out so the midwife said to me ''I'm going to have to cut you now Rachael,' I was terrified at this point, there was a huge scalpel next to me and she was going to cut me with it, I had been given no pain relief throughout my labour and I knew it was going to hurt, at the same time I was thinking, my baby is dying, my baby is dying'. I found the strength from out of nowhere and gave the biggest push and out came Liam ; he was blue. The cord was cut and he was laid on the floor near me, the second midwife tried desperately to resuscitate him, no body would let me look and him and I was so afraid, I thought my baby was dead and I no body was letting me look at him. He didn't breathe for five minutes but it felt like hours to me, then all of a sudden I heard it, a scream came from his lungs, the relief I felt I can not put into words, he was alive! my baby boy was alive! As I write this part, my eyes are streaming, reliving this moment causes me much pain. No mother should ever know how it feels to think their baby is dead. But I am blessed that he was not and I know other mothers that have not been so lucky so shall not dwell on this.Liam was placed onto me, he screamed for hours but I didn't mind, I was pleased his lungs were full of air now I was so happy that he was here telling me off.
After Liam's birth I had a bath, I remember looking down at my body for the first time, nobody told me how ruined my stomach would look after the bump was gone, it was hideous, covered in stretch marks and all saggy; I sobbed in the bath for a good long time, I cried partly for my body and partly in relief that it was all over.
I stayed at my mothers for a few days, I was scared to go home with him but eventually I did. The day I left I remember being afraid to push him outside in his pram, worried because I needed to go to the shop and didn't think I was going to be able to get the pram through the door. When I arrived home with Liam and closed the door for the first time the reality was like a smack in the face I felt so so so alone. But I wasn't alone I had my beautiful boy now, it was me and Liam against the world, I hugged him to me and sat with him for hours in the chair just staring at him, finally looking upon his face, the face I had longed to see for nine long months was finally there for me to touch. I had never felt true love until this point, I could feel it wash through me, there was nothing that could ever compare to that feeling.
The next few months went by in a blur of night feeds and nappy changes, I made a good routine for Liam and we found a new place to live.
So I conclude with these questions, why is pregnancy and parenting so rose tinted by every body? Why is it that everybody focuses on the all the lovely things about having a baby? No body told me how hard it would be, no body sat me down and said hey you know what, your baby could die at birth and your body is going to be ruined, you wont sleep for years and every penny you have will be spent on him? There will be endless hours of screaming and you will not know how to cope. Why was there no education on becoming a parent for mother or father at school? How can any body be expected to know how to be a good parent? Please do not blame the parents when their child turns out to be naughty, blame the system for not showing them how to be a parent in the first place, blame them for not teaching these young people how to cope and preparing them for the bad side instead of keeping them naive. If I had of known how hard it was going to be I would of made better choices and would have been more prepared for the things life as a parent threw at me. Saying this I wouldn't change Liam for the world he has brought untold joy to my life and I am grateful to have him for he has made me a woman, he has made me complete and without him I wouldn't be half the woman I am today.