A few weeks ago I listened to the first episode of Fearne Cotton’s podcast, Happy Place. It was an interview with parents-to-be Tom Daley and his husband. They were so excited, so happy, so keen to share stories of shopping for their yet, unborn baby and nursery makeovers and I found myself becoming increasingly annoyed with all the joy and it wasn’t until Fearne said something like (and I can’t go back and listen to the exact words but I promise these are pretty close) How was the scan? Because every single parent is so excited and thrilled when it comes to scans.
I snapped off my speaker and sat with my feelings for a bit, baffled as to why I’d found it such an annoying listen and suddenly it became so clear why I had been feeling so uncomfortable. It had absolutely nothing to do with the interviewer or interviewees, all of whom I really like. The problem was they were not describing anything I recognised. I struggled with my mental health when I was pregnant and even all these years later, this excited, joyful discussion was so triggering for me.
Instead to being able to just shrug and appreciate someone else’s very different experience, I felt once again that I had failed in some way. I hadn’t felt the way I should when I went to scans, when I carried my children and guilt, shame and jealousy flooded my emotions. I cried some tears for what I felt I’d missed out on, for the first time in years and the relief of acknowledging the trigger and my own feelings was huge. I realised I wasn’t just a grumpy, bitter old cow, who’s first thought had been “What a stupid thing for her to say”.
I am someone who had a different experience and that’s OK. It was about me not them, not you, not anyone else.
It was really quite a shock. I don’t think of that time often, almost never. I once wrote that a miscarriage was like a freckle. It would fade in and out with the sun and no-one else would even notice it, but I would know it was there and most of the time I think that was me being lyrical and over dramatic, but I think I was probably right. My experience of miscarriage and ante-natal depression will stay with me and that’s OK too.
For a much more positive post about Maternal Mental Health week I joined in with my friend Amy and her #whatidgiveanewmum hashtag and I said I would give acceptance. I was really thinking of accepting what your baby needs and making that work, but actually acceptance of ourselves is so important too. Acceptance of our journey to motherhood and the feelings that this still might bring years later is one of the bravest things we can do for ourselves.
This is my experience, it stays with me. It was easier than some experienced, it was harder than others, but none of that is relevant really. It was my experience and it deserves acknowledging sometimes. I am grateful to that podcast, because it made me pause and spend some time sitting with uncomfortable emotions and then let them pass…..until next time.
For anyone who has found this post because they’re having a rough time or for anyone who is new around here, the links in the post will take you to some of my posts that will fill you in on the background.