As you may have guessed, Kevin and I are “expecting”…
Expecting what? Well, during the last few months, friends, relatives and complete strangers have helpfully filled in many of the blanks for us there. We are expecting sleepless nights, reduced income, toxic nappies, a permanently spinning washing machine, a faint whiff of sick everywhere and the feeling that our lives have been utterly overtaken by an incredibly small but highly effective dictator.
In pregnancy I expected to feel much worse physically, and much better mentally than I have. I’ve been extremely fortunate in avoiding many of the ailments associated with “my condition” and been pretty healthy and mobile throughout. Even now, six long days overdue, I’m still taking decent walks and can, just about, put on my own socks. The mental journey has been far, far tougher and this has come as a surprise as I have wanted, for almost as long as I can possibly remember, to be a mother and assumed that I would slip effortlessly into the mindset of one. What I’ve actually experienced is monumental self-doubt, huge confusion and debilitating self-pity. There’s been huge joy too, greatly increased by the joy of others for us, but the “black dogs” were unexpected and scary and just made me think “How will I ever manage this?” all the more.
In the last three weeks my family have been through quite a bit. On 27th October my amazing youngest sister Ruth gave birth, after a very, very long labour, to her beautiful son Arlo who was promptly rushed to Intensive Care with breathing problems. On the same day my ninety-seven year old Grandad had a mild (ish) heart attack and was admitted to Worthing Hospital in Sussex. Arlo was in hospital for a week. During that week four of my Grandad’s five grand-daughters (including this very pregnant one) visited him in hospital. On Saturday 3rd November, Arlo and his very relieved Mum and Dad took him home to Shippey Street and Grandad passed away peacefully following a sudden deterioration in his condition. Although Kevin and I are very sad that he wasn’t able to have news of both his great-grandchildren, we have to celebrate a life very well-lived. Last Friday my parents left the Vicarage they’ve lived in since 2005 – and my Dad the calling he’s pursued for forty years – and moved to Herefordshire. Both my parents have been utterly fantastic over the last few weeks, supporting all four of their daughters through some highly emotional moments.
What to expect next? Well, a baby. A completely new life, for him or her and for us. A funeral next month, an occasion that will bring two tiny cousins together as the very best kind of symbol of what family means. Black dogs? Probably. Everyone tells me you spend the third day after birth sobbing in your pyjamas so I’ve bought some rather fetching ones covered in red roses just for the purpose.