Dumped when pregnant and facing motherhood alone, follow mum-to-be Farah Ishaq's bumpy journey to motherhood...
The internal trumpet fanfares, the bunting is out and the half-time oranges are being served in my head and heart as I near the 20 week point of my first pregnancy.
It seems like only a few weeks ago, in fact it WAS only a few weeks ago, that I managed to twist my thoughts round to letting go of overwhelming doubts and panic and the lingering negative feelings (well, there are still down moments and days). I finally 'allowed' myself the luxurious feelings of impending mummy-dom and dare I say excitement (on top of the fear) of having a child.
This wasn't a planned pregnancy - although I was very much in love with my partner of more than two years. It was a complicated set-up as after months of on-going heartache he was correct in one argument: it was not the right time for 'us' to have a 'surprise baby' or a child together. Now, after hearing many other mother's stories, there never appears to be a 'right time' so that's one thing struck off my fretting list.
The deciding factor in going ahead with having my child, as a single parent, amongst a myriad of issues, was that after battling a lifetime of the fertility-lessening ovarian cysts and pain of endometriosis (including several keyhole laparoscopies, laser surgeries and hormonal treatments over a 10 year period) – it was a pure fluke (a freak occurrence, a blessing, a gift – delete as appropriate) that I've managed to sustain a pregnancy at all. My gynae surgeons had all convinced me that I'd never have a family of my own.
At the beginning, when the lines appeared on not one, but eight different pregnancy tests, it was only my doctors that were thrilled. I remember leaving the hospital numb that I couldn't feel as happy and cheerful as they were.
So fast forward past the tears, the tantrums, the stamping of feet yelling 'it's not fair', past the end of my relationship with (who I thought was) the love-of-my-life father. Fast track through the dark days of abortion consultations at his request (before he went awol by suddenly changing his phone numbers and blocking his emails - mutual colleagues refusing to say where he was - my hunch is another woman) and suspected early miscarriage – those last events instilling the utmost fear of what I stood to lose and brought to the fore new found protective feelings. I knew I would simply have to make it work, as a mother. What else could I do? It's what my heart wanted. I've had to find my own core of inner steel and I think I may have found some perspective just when I stopped looking for it. Weird how that happens.
I've been so busy the last few weeks, sorting out the financial implications as I was made redundant after 12 years at my old firm, so no maternity pay for me, not even SMP. I've not just spent time seeing midwives, perinatal psychologists and social workers but also having fun. Yes, fun! I had an amazing 30th birthday party (cake replacing booze, who'd have thought), I've flown abroad, I've swum in the sea, I've been camping at music festivals. In short, ironically, I feel re-born.
But maybe that's just the placenta talking! Apparently most women do begin to feel better at the half-way line, when the hormones are no longer on a free-for-all and the foetus is getting everything it needs from the now taken-over placenta. And I do feel better, I think.
Now, I don't have any idea what a 'bump-buddy' is or does, much less about much of the other jargon that floats around the web about or 'for' pregnant women – but I would love to hear from others who have had to face a pregnancy and the daunting prospect of bringing up a baby alone, with only one parent, or women who are going through a similar situation now. Just tell me everything works out in the end? I feel like I need to know there can be a happy ending to what feels like a miserable start.
Issues I'm currently weighing up include: do I move nearer my elderly parents (they live abroad, where admittedly childcare is far cheaper/better)? Do I have to go to antenatal classes with someone, or can you go alone? Who will be your birthing, cheering, support person during your pregnancy and labour? Do married couples really shun single parents? Will I be forever segregated and stigmatised? Worse, will my child feel stigmatised? What do I say when s/he asks where 'daddy' is, when the only answer I have is 'I don't know'?
One thing I do know, is that over the last year - topped and tailed by the end of one cycle of my career and the start of a brand new cycle of a family life of two - it has hit home (with a sledgehammer) just how quickly life as-we-know-it can change. And that some things maybe DO happen for a reason. I feel lucky and blessed and can't wait to see what happens next.
I do still hope one day to find the affection, love and support that I'm now grieving for, but at the same time it is relieving and good to finally have found some faith in myself. I still haven't told the world I'm expecting (too stung and humiliated) and my bump is barely noticeable, so have had some time for me. Time to think, to over-think, to plan, to re-plan, to rip up plans and start all over again. Frightened and fed-up but faced with a stark but human reality.
The shock of beginning such dramatic change is partly beginning to wear off – amidst a flurry of house improvements and over zealous cleaning – to be replaced by the semi-joy, bumpy ride of the unknown (there better be seat-belts and a sick-bag en route is what I'm thinking). Now it's all about the baby, my baby. No more navel-gazing allowed from me, except in a staring at my tummy in wonder kind of way.