What if I don’t love my child?

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My monsters and me

I’ve got 8 weeks till Due Date. EIGHT WEEKS. I go through periods of intense panic about logistical things (kitchen is being renovated; we haven’t finished the nursery; the Christmas tree is still outside!) to intense calm (meh, we can move in with Mr Bug’s parents if we need to).

But, underlying all of this, is a deeper, more intransigent set of fears that are harder to express. When I try – when I give it a go – people say “Don’t be silly!” or “It’ll all be FINE”. And…that’s the end of the conversation.

Certain fears – and certain realities – are very taboo. I have the feeling that even voicing them can make people uncomfortable. It’s easier to dismiss the very idea as preposterous, ridiculous, the fears of a totes emosh pregnant lady freaking out 8 weeks before the birth of her first child.

I would like to express my fears around becoming a parent without feeling like I’m doing the equivalent of worrying about monsters under my bed. These fears are real; people actually have children and feel like this. If we talked about it more, we might fear it less.

So, after that dramatic introduction, what are these fears?

The scariest one – the one that can make me pause a moment and catch my breath – is the fear that I won’t love my child. I fear that I’ll give birth and someone will hand him over to me and I will feel nothing. Or, worse, I will feel revulsion or panic. That I will want to hand him back.

I’m quite good at loving people. I love my family and my close friends and I’ve had quite a lot of experience with how to love people. But this is totally different, this isn’t like any other relationship I’ve ever had, and I have zero guarantees about how my heart and mind will react. I THINK I’ll love him; I’m pretty SURE that I will; I see NO REASON why I wouldn’t. But.

Another fear – and they are all linked – is that I will regret having him. That he’ll come along and everything in my life will change and I’ll look back and decide that, on balance, it was better before he turned up.

Again – I have no reason to believe that I will think that way but I’m marching at light-speed into the unknown right now. I have absolutely no idea what the day to day struggles of parenthood are like or how I’m going to react to them.

The final fear I’m going to voice here is the fear that I won’t like my child. This has been something that has stayed with me every since reading “We need to talk about Kevin” (such an interesting book by the way!). The idea of nurturing a child, of investing everything into them, only for them to turn out to be a bit of an arsehole (or mass murderer in the case of Kevin – but something a little less apocalyptic would still be distressing) sounds pretty gutting. I know I’m naively foraying into the nature vs nurture debate here but the fact that there is still a debate going on means I can’t 100% assume that my amazingly awesome (obvs) parenting skills will ensure that Baby Bug doesn’t turn out to be a total wanker.

Ah. I feel better already. I don’t want to know that these things aren’t going to happen but saying them (or writing them down) means they are a lot less scary. It also means I can think about these things logically – both in terms of “this is probably not going to happen because x, y and z” but also (and importantly), “if it DOES happen, this is what you can do”.

The little monsters under the bed will still be there, and I’m very likely to spend the next 8 weeks having a little panic about them every so often, but confronting them makes them a lot less scary (and makes me feel a lot less like a crazy person).

ethannevelyn
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It’s my birthday!

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Let’s face it, when you hit adulthood, birthdays start to become slightly less exciting. I can’t say that I’ve been particularly looking forward to mine but it’s here now so I should try and make the most of it. Despite sounding like a moody b*gger, I do have a lot of things that I’m super grateful for and, as my Mum said in her text to me earlier, this birthday is special as I’m sharing it with Baby Bug. My next birthday will be even more special – my first as a Mum myself. So here’s a list of things making me happy and moody today:

  • George Osborne is a twat.
  • Hyperemesis doesn’t seem to realise it’s my birthday which is very rude.
  • My house is messy and I really need to clean it up.
  • We bought a pram/stroller/travel system thing. We went for the Silver Cross Wayfarer and I’ll do a post on that and my initial thoughts soon.
  • I’ve had lovely messages wishing me a happy birthday from friends and family.
  • Tonight, Mr Bug may be taking me out for a quick meal. This will be the first time since I got sick which means the first time since we got married!
  • My birthday always signifies Halloween is here and then BOOM suddenly we’re on countdown to Christmas. I love Christmas so this is a good thing.

I hope everyone has a lovely Tuesday, cuddles up with their loved ones and takes some time out today. That’s my plan.

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In praise of friends and family

Honeymoon before Hyperemesis
Honeymoon before Hyperemesis

I’m not sure if they say that it takes a community to have a baby but if they don’t then they should. In my experience so far, it definitely takes more than two people and I’m only 17 weeks pregnant.

When I first got sick with Hyperemesis, I was on honeymoon. We had just had the most amazing, three day wedding weekend in Tuscany with all of our nearest and dearest. We were on the highest of highs and our 10 day trip to the Maldives was meant to be the cherry on the cake. Instead, by day 3, I was curled up in bed, unable to move. Mr Bug was fantastic. He looked after me, comforted me when I cried about how unfair everything was and didn’t once even hint that this wasn’t the honeymoon he had been hoping for.

Once we got home, my parents – who live abroad – became my full-time carers. Together, we worked out what I could and couldn’t eat; what was staying down and what was coming up. They ran my baths, helped me wash my hair, rubbed my back when I was throwing up and, most importantly, just sat with me when I was sad so I wouldn’t be alone. They stayed with us for about three weeks until it seemed like I was improving, so they went home (a 9 hour flight away).

I then had a relapse and my Mum got back on a plane and looked after me for a further three weeks, leaving my Dad on his own. I felt guilty and I worried about my Dad being lonely but they were adamant. Mr Bug was also amazing and having my Mum around meant that he could still go to work every day without leaving me on my own. On the weekend, he’d try different things for me to eat and we’d sit on the sofa and watch silly TV to take my mind off things. He was worried and he was stressed but he kept smiling and giving me cuddles and telling me to keep going.

During this time, my brother and his wife, H, came to see us whenever they possibly could, keeping me company, making me laugh, gossiping, chatting and just being there. These are people that I didn’t need to pretend with; I didn’t need to put a brave face on or act as though I was feeling better than I was. I could just lie on the couch or run off to vomit without having to explain anything. Their presence honestly helped me from going absolutely crazy and I hope that each of them know how important and special they were to me at what was the worst time of my life.

Having a baby is hard. I have no doubt that when Baby Bug comes along, it’ll be tough. Amazing, but tough. This whole experience has taught me that reaching out and telling people that you need help is okay. With my friends and work colleagues, I’ve always tried to make things sound better than they are but I’ve tried hard not to do this here because we should be honest about things and tell the truth about the reality of what we’re going through. If we don’t, not only are we isolating ourselves but we’re also making it harder for others going through the same thing.

So, tell people how crappy things really are (if they are!) and ask if you need help. Finally: appreciate the help you get. Those are my three takeaways.
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