A whole year ago, last night I was calmly sat on the sofa contracting every seven minutes and eating chocolate buttons in between.
This year I sat in the same place on the same sofa and wrote my babys first birthday card.
I happily wondered around downstairs, made myself a cup of tea and flicked through Sky+ to find something to hold my attention for an hour or so.
Sipping tea I write the first entry in the book I am keeping for Beans. A letter to her on the night before her birthday every year.
At 6am, the pains getting stronger, I finally call the husband downstairs to bring me socks for my freezing feet.
At 6:15am I am woken up by the sound of Beans chattering away to her teddy in her cot.
A few hours later and my cries of ‘I need to puuuuush’ are met with a very firm ‘no you don’t’ from my mum and a very worried look from the husband.
After breakfast we sit on the floor, literally millimetres from the exact spot that she was born, and we open presents.
‘I need to PUSH!’
The cake’s decorated, the balloons blown up and the presents all over the floor.
‘Well done, you did it!’
I kiss the husband, we have our baby.
Happy first birthday Beans.
31:01:2011 / 10:45am / 6lb 9oz
I always do it, get myself overly worked up about something that turns out to be nothing. I wait and wait until my blood is about 95% adrenalin and then the release never comes. Instead I am fuelled by my own anxiety for days, nervous and twitching and waiting for a way out. No wonder I have panic attacks.
Two weeks ago I filled in all the forms to refer myself for therapy and sent them off, wanting someone to take my outstretched hand and help me.
On Friday I had a phone call from the service, I missed it. This morning I settled down with a big mug of tea and the phone. I would phone them myself, I wouldn’t wait for if and when they planned on calling me back. And then the adrenalin kicks in.
It said in the covering letter for all the forms that this would be an assessment phone call. Thirty minutes of questions and answers to ascertain whether or not I am deserving. This is not something I relish.
I find it extremely hard to open up to people at the best of times, let alone over the phone. Without body language and physical interaction talking becomes harder for me, especially with a total stranger.
I sip my tea and I try to second guess what they will ask me, clutching at straws and trying to reassure myself that I have the answers and won’t be reduced to a sobbing wreck as soon as they start to probe. Not being able to articulate myself properly really worries me, I need to be honest but at the same time I have never had to say certain things out loud. It’s a huge leap of faith for me to do that.
Half way down my mug of tea and suitably anxious I dial the number. It rings.
I sit on hold for fifteen minutes. My thumb hovers over the end button on the phone, twitching to press it every thirty seconds. I don’t want to do this, I don’t want to say things out loud, I don’t want to admit to it all.
‘Thank you for holding, can I take your name?’
The rustle of papers is audible as the woman on the end of the phone searches for my notes.
‘Ok, you need a telephone assessment. The earliest available time is on Wednesday 8th February, can you do that?’
Hang on, this isn’t the thirty minute phone call I had built myself up to, this is just to make an appointment.
I hang over my lukewarm tea just like this is going to hang over me for the next nine days.
I fall in and out of love with night, over and over until I’m spinning in circles.
Love is because I am the only person in the world. Surrounded by darkness and silence I’m free to think, to exist, by myself.
Hate is because I am the only person in the world. Surrounded by darkness and silence I am alone, unreachable and untouchable.
I used to fear night time. Days away from a whole year ago I would sink into a heavy sleep that hit me in the face as soon as my head hit the pillow, so strong was the need. Thirty short minutes later I would wake with a start, groggy and dry mouthed, and pull my legs over to the side of the bed to reach into the crib beside the bed.
I started to resent the night time. For two weeks I breastfed every thirty minutes, without exception. It seemed alright during the day, somehow less arduous and cruel when everyone else was awake too. At night I would sit and sob at my baby while she screamed at me. I would beat myself up until an hour ticked by and she had exhausted herself and I could throw myself back into sleep for a precious thirty minutes.
Then I stopped breastfeeding. I went to bed and I didn’t get up again for three days, greedy for sleep and the freedom of personal space. At first my sleep was fitful and restless, I was ill and I would hallucinate, stuck somewhere in a world between dreams and reality. I would shout to the husband to come and get the baby because she had finished feeding, I would wake up panicked because she wasn’t in my arms so I must have dropped her. She was never there.
A few weeks later and I had fallen back in love with night again. It was the only time I had to myself and whether I was tired or not it I wasn’t willing to let it slip through my fingers. I would lay awake watching the moon from my window, listening to the snuffles of my sleeping baby, revelling in the peace.
The love affair is short lived and although I still crave the space and the time that night brings, I hate it. I hate that I can’t sleep no matter how exhausted I am or how desperately I want to. I hate that everyone else is lost in dreams while I sit alone.
Worst of all? I miss my baby. Separated from me by sleep and a magnolia wall, I miss her and I know that as soon as morning comes and she is ready to play I will be heavy eyed and thick headed, full of worry and wishing for night time all over again.
I have come to the very middle aged conclusion that I dislike organised fun. I love fun, but as soon as you start trying to plan it it is stripped of its, well, fun.
Beans is one in a matter of days. I’m sure that’s not right, and if I wasn’t sitting down without the need of a rubber ring then I would be convinced she was only born last week.
I have been looking forward to her birthday all month, but it seems to be dragging me down now. It’s one of those days where you are expected to be happy isn’t it?
I keep thinking back to the day she was born, another one of those days that’s supposed to be the happiest of my life. It wasn’t. I know that doesn’t mean that I won’t enjoy her birthday, but I’m feeling the pressure to be happy and excited and fun.
I hate new years eve for the same reason, planned fun never works, but as I watched Big Ben chime in 2012 I was flooded with relief that the last year was over.
I need to take the same stance with this birthday, it’s closing a chapter on a horrible time but it’s also the start of a year of what will hopefully bring good things.