My pregnancy was spent largely alone – the unexpected nature of my expectant motherhood meant that things had to continue as planned as far as possible. I stayed at university to complete my law degree until I could go on maternity leave, but that also meant living over 100 miles away from Jamie for virtually the entire pregnancy.
It was my housemate, Shannon, that helped me through the morning sickness. It was my housemate, Elliot, who covered for me when I had a UTI. It was Shannon, again, who would accompany me to the first doctors appointment, and the midwife appointments, especially when I absolutely hated that first midwife in Southampton! So, I suppose I wasn’t really alone alone – but it’s something quite different from doing those things with your partner.
Everyone jokes about pregnancy hormones making you over-emotional, and yes, there are times when the hormones are slightly ridiculous… but usually, the feelings underneath the exacerbated crying fits are totally genuine. Spending my pregnancy apart from Jamie was really tough, and with those hormones to make things worse I did feel like an emotional wreck 24/7… which, of course, is when I needed him the most to cheer me up (which he did, but it’s not as easy over the phone!).
I accept that my pregnancy wasn’t a normal kind of situation… I don’t know anybody else who stayed at university living a fairly long distance away from their fiancé at the same time as being pregnant! But some of the things I experienced may be similar for other mums or mums to be. Single mums to be have to go through this all the time with no reprieve, so a big shout out to you girls! You’re doing amazingly. Army wife mums to be also may have to deal with this – one of my lovely friends up here is expecting, and her husband is deployed in Iraq… Jamie’s deployment in Afghanistan has been taxing enough without the added pressure of me having another baby! I don’t know how I would cope, so a big load of respect goes to the army wife/mum community, too. Particularly with army wives, it’s highly likely that they may even have to move house while they’re pregnant, and possibly even while their husbands/wives are still deployed! Although not the same situation, I had to move during pregnancy, when my maternity leave finally started!
Moving house is stressful at the best of times, but when you’re 7 months pregnant it can be a bit of a nightmare!
Because I had been studying at university and was about to go on maternity leave, meaning I had to move my entire life back from Southampton to Dover, Kent to prepare for giving birth and becoming a mother – how daunting is that? It was for me, anyway…
The hardest part was that I had no help whatsoever in packing up all of my belongings in preparation for this big move. Jamie was already living in Dover, so I had done the majority of the pregnancy alone in Southampton (though he made trips down on the train/coach for scans and appointments when he could). I got everything ready to move and waited for Jamie to come and pick me and my belongings up a week into our Easter break. I’d finished my coursework and at that stage was preparing to do my exams in the August of the same year (though due to PND I took a whole year’s maternity leave in the end), so I’d tied up all of my loose ends and was ready to get home and start nesting.
Being home, however, didn’t mean that Jamie was around all of the time. He did shift work in London, so would stay with his mum in Essex for 4, 5, or 7 days/nights at a time to save time and money. He would have been too exhausted to drive all the way back home in between shifts. But this was slightly more manageable. I had help when he was around, and when he wasn’t I had time to do things for me – I volunteered at my local Magistrates’ Court one day a week and started preparing our home for having Olivia. It felt more relaxing being in a normal routine, so even though some days were still spent living apart, it didn’t feel that we were because I was in our home instead of my uni room.
However, the next stressful thing was moving between NHS trusts… Southampton General Hospital and Buckland Hospital have completely different sets of maternity notes. Buckland couldn’t make sense of my notes from Southampton, and so I ended up spending a whole day with the midwives so that they could redo my notes into their neat folders. Before they took time to do that, it made appointments longer, and it was frustrating having to repeat things over and over again because they couldn’t find notes in my folder due to the different layouts. Something to bear in mind if you’ll be moving back to live with your partner towards the end of your pregnancy!
All of that being said, I don’t think I would change how it all worked out. I finished my degree, and had 1 year old Olivia at my graduation ceremony. Unbeknownst to me then, I’d also had some pretty good practice for life as an army wife coping with deployment! The only difference is now I have a child to look after as well as myself and definitely no pregnant belly!!!
It can be stressful, and it can be emotionally difficult to go through pregnancy alone, but it is possible, and sometimes it can be worth it. It made me determined and motivated to do the best I could for my baby girl, and it has probably actually made me more mentally resilient in the long run.
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