The eight months since that positive test have felt like the longest of my life. On top of the relentless tiredness, sickness, heartburn, constipation, nosebleeds, piles (am I oversharing yet?); on top of the endless scans and tests; has been the constant – and increasingly impossible – battle not to acknowledge this pregnancy, and the gnawing fear that I would have to terminate it.
I have to admit I never thought the doubt would go on this long – technically to full term in fact. I had naïvely hoped we might know either way by Christmas, or early in the New Year. In the end our final MRI scan was scheduled for Tuesday 26th January – which turned out mark the start of the longest week of waiting of all. When we arrived for the scan, the hospital was in the grip of a power-cut and running essential operations only. The staff searched around and managed to find us an appointment a few days later, on the Friday. The scan was successfully performed, but there were no doctors available to interpret the results. After a restless further weekend of waiting we finally got the phone call, late on Monday, 37 weeks in, that everything looked normal. The relief was almost too much to take in.
Don’t get me wrong, my relief is not that we won’t be having a disabled child. I know I could have loved and cared for another like Benjamin, that he or she would have been a valuable addition to our family. But that wasn’t an option. My relief is that at last, with no more scans or tests to go through, there is now nothing that can prompt a termination. I won’t have to fulfil the promise that I was no longer certain I would be able to keep. Our gamble has paid off. Our little family has survived, and some time in the next month, it will become a family of five.
Cue a frantic rush to get ready everything we hadn’t dared to before. To get the mountain of baby clothes down from the loft and sort them; to clean the cot, the buggy, the sling, the car seat; to start discussing names. My amazing husband not only surprised me by coming home early, bearing flowers, the day we got the good news, he also rushed upstairs that evening and started putting together bouncy chairs and baby-gyms that had lain in pieces in the loft. In my self-absorption I hadn’t realised that he, too, had been finding the long wait so hard, and the relief so immense.
Jackie too, although she doesn’t know the back story, is desperate to meet the new baby. At nursery she draws picture after picture of “Mummy and the baby in her tummy.” She keeps asking, when will the baby come? I’m so glad we won’t have to let her down (although if it’s another boy she will not be impressed!). And Benjamin, though he doesn’t know it, will benefit from having another child to watch, learn from, and emulate.
Today my wonderful friends at Kidzone (our local SN early years group) threw me a surprise baby shower. I was totally gobsmacked. I have no idea how they managed to organise cakes, balloons, games, food, presents, in the few days since the scan result. But what was really special was to be surrounded by so much love – for me and for the baby. I came home laden with gifts including a whole set of tiny white bodysuits, each decorated with a unique design (and all the left over cake, of course).
So finally, after the long months of waiting, hiding, fearing, masking our feelings, we can all look forward with joy (and a small amount of trepidation). As the crocuses start to poke their heads up through the soil, we emerge, blinking, from a dream into the light. Whether or not the moses basket is ready, whether the name is chosen, whether the freezer is stocked or the house is clean, our little one will be joining us soon. He or she is head down and ready to go. Thank you for following me on this journey without judging our choices, for putting up with my outbursts of grief and hypocrisy, for listening. I can’t wait to introduce you to our new arrival.