This is an apology to my boy, my sweet little Sagittarian sunshine. I need to say sorry to him because when I was pregnant I wanted him to be a girl. It’s hard for me to admit that but it’s the truth.
When I was carrying J, I genuinely wasn’t bothered if it was a boy or a girl, I was just delighted to be pregnant.
When I was carrying M, I really thought he was a girl. I had a neat little bump which was completely different to how I carried with J, craved fruit (especially oranges) and just had ‘a feeling’…that obviously turned out to be wrong.
But that was OK. Why? Because I didn’t have postnatal depression.
I’d developed PND after having J, following a traumatic back labour ending in a theatre delivery that was almost an emergency C-section. I bled for weeks and weeks. I couldn’t move without pain for a long time. I struggled to breastfeed. I became convinced that I was a failure as a mother and he would therefore surely die due to my perceived inability to look after him properly.
I didn’t bond with J at all for the first five months. It was torture and I thought of suicide. I was signed off work shortly after returning because I was having panic attacks. After two months off I realised couldn’t bear the thought of going back to the prestigious college where I taught A-Levels because I had so little self-confidence, so I resigned. I refused antidepressants but had months of counselling. Then after about fourteen months I started to come out of the black hole into which I’d fallen and began to enjoy my child the way I’d always thought I would.
J knows none of this of course. Luckily he will never remember me standing in the kitchen, running the taps at full blast, putting on the (empty) washing machine and tumble dryer and sobbing with my hands over my ears to try to drown out the sound of his crying from upstairs. He’ll never know that I considered walking out of the house and not coming back on an almost daily basis. Hopefully he’ll only ever remember the way I’ve tried to make up for it ever since by telling him how much I love him at every opportunity.
It took over two years for me to even consider having another baby and I was terrified when I became pregnant. That’s why my midwife Jo was so important. I was on caseload-led care and she got my notes to go through what had happened with J. She convinced me that it wouldn’t be like that again. She told me that even if I was to have another back labour there were ways of dealing with it that didn’t need to involve pushing through three hours of pointless, excruciating pain to the point of hallucination to end up in surgery anyway.
So you see, when I had M, even though it was in hospital rather than at home like I’d wanted, I actually enjoyed it. I felt in control (thanks to Jo), it was a quick, natural birth and he was a beautiful, calm baby. He took to breastfeeding immediately. I felt exhilarated and proud of myself and I knew I was a long, long way away from the black hole of the first time.
It was completely irrelevant that he was a boy; he was perfect and, to my relief, I adored him instantly. It felt like we were a team, M and me and he made me think that maybe I wasn’t so bad at this motherhood lark after all.
As a result I couldn’t wait to get pregnant again. I remember admitting it to my mum when M was three months old but didn’t broach the subject with my hubby for another eight months. He would have stopped at two but being the wonderful man he is, he agreed.
We got pregnant in the first month of trying (much to my husband’s chagrin 😉 ) but as the pregnancy progressed I knew this would be the last time. My immune system was battered and I picked up every infection going, at one point having three courses of antibiotics in five weeks. I really didn’t enjoy the pregnancy so I’ll admit it; we already had two boys so I wanted this last one to be a girl.
We decided to find out the gender at the twenty week scan because I knew I’d need to prepare myself if it was another boy. The sonographer confirmed it and I cried all the way home (even though it breaks my heart to type that because it feels disloyal to Z).
So why am I writing this now? Because I’m over it. Having three boys just feels right; I was destined to be the mother of boys. I’m over the craving to buy pretty clothes; I have friends with daughters for that. My husband assures me that rather than the battle-axe I fear, I’ll be a welcoming, supportive mother-in-law. I really hope he’s right.
Having said that, the saying ‘a son is a son till he takes a wife, a daughter is a daughter the rest of her life’ does make me a tad nervous. I just have to hope that if I lay loving foundations that are strong enough, my sons will always want me to be a big part of their lives even when they have families of their own.
So, Z, this is my apology to you. I’m sorry I ever wanted you to be anything other that the funny, sunny-natured, kind, thoughtful, loving, affectionate, generous, clever, gorgeous little boy you are. Because now that I have you, I wouldn’t change a single thing about you, my special, precious son.
Linking up with the lovely Jaime over at The Oliver’s Madhouse: