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Tuesday 11 July 2017

When the birth of a new life means saying goodbye to another...

Back at the start of 2015, having waited 15 days past my due date for the moment to finally arrive, I gave birth to my first child - Arthur. It was a joyous and yet overwhelming experience, filled with awe and wonder and also many, many moments of 'new parent fear'. 

When the birth of a new life means saying goodbye to another

Family and friends came from far and wide to meet this lovely new little person, and watch carefully as we tried to put together some semblance of normal life amidst the sleep deprivation, constant feeding and numerous nappy changes. Feelings of happiness combined with anxiety became the new normal and we shuffled along between us in a state of shock and survival, until 2 weeks later when paternity leave was over and it was time for me to do this mother and baby thing alone.....I'll admit, I got as far as closing the front door behind him, my darling husband, before bursting into tears and sobbing my way back up the stairs, baby in arms, already counting down the minutes until he would be home from work.

I didn't realise at the time, but already I was struggling with some symptoms of PTSD following on from labour and birth - this was always worse in those quiet moments of rest or sleep when your mind takes its chance to process the events and inevitably leads to no rest and no sleep - a vicious circle.

We were also days away from the start of a particularly lengthy battle with colic and reflux - One that would keep us up all hours of every night for months. Food usually consisted of crumpets, eaten whilst holding Arthur in a sling, and simultaneously bouncing on a birth ball in order to induce some sense of calm whilst trying to stay awake myself. I still couldn't walk properly after the labour, so getting out and about and meeting friends felt like a single step far too far away.

It sounds gloomy, but it wasn't all bad. The happy moments far outweighed the bad and we were surprised and amazed at how quickly Arthur smiled, laughed, rolled over and developed in other ways - the rollercoaster of rough and smooth almost felt balanced.

Our lives were undoubtedly changed forever though. We had waved goodbye to the ones we had before in a fog of anticipation, excitement and fear. Everything was different. From the moment we started and ended our day, how we ate our meals and, admittedly, how unrecognisable my reflection had become to the image I saw in the mirror before children were even on the cards. These are the kind of life events that can fool you into thinking you are the only ones dealing with change, and difficulties.... becoming so engrossed in your own situation until something happens to remind you that actually, you're not.

When Arthur was less than a month old we were faced with the news that his Grandma, my Mother in Law - an immaculate, manicure loving, red lipstick wearing, perfect hair day every day, 60 something lady had suffered a massive stroke and was in intensive care.

Darling husband boarded a flight over to Holland where his parents still live and we (Arthur and I) waited patiently at home in the UK for news, information and at some point, his return. Emotions, already running high, reached boiling point and survival mode kicked in for pretty much everyone concerned. Suddenly we were thrown into a land of limbo, and my days were spent not being sure about whether we should be feeling happy or sad.

Luckily, she pulled through and we are so thankful every day that she did.

Every single day, in any given moment, whether planned or not - your life can change so dramatically and so unrecognisably from the one you had before...it's all too easy to think about what you have lost, rather than what you have gained...or what you still have.

And so as I approach the arrival of my next child, I am writing this post as a little reminder to myself that yes, things will change. The life, setup and routine I have now will be lost - but this isn't a bad thing. Change always takes time to get used to, it always takes some adjusting and it can feel hard - but ultimately we are made to evolve and the birth of a new life (both literally and metaphorically) is something to embrace as a happy challenge.

Change happens to everyone though. Everyone, everywhere, every day is potentially dealing with something that shifts their feeling of 'comfortable' into something new and unrecognisable. I'm hoping for a less dramatic shift in circumstances this time...but whatever happens I'll try to remember....It's not just me - it's never just me.

Sarah x

Dealing with Colic and Reflux in babies

Having a baby - the things they never told me...

Motherhood - the loneliest of times...

Should I give in and try controlled crying?

Did I have a traumatic birth? Postnatal PTSD...

The diary of a 9 month old escape artist

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