The following is in response to your unasked question about what it’s like to know that you’re going to have a baby, knowing that you will be doing it without a partner. It’s also to help with my blogging groove, and now the All Women’s Blogging Carnival (week beginning 23 July).
When I found out I was going to have a baby was just the beginning of the my story as anyone who’s ever had children knows all too well.
Most people going through pregnancy have a partner to discuss things with. I would have loved to be in a long-term relationship before becoming pregnant and have my hopefully supportive partner to help me throughout but this was not the case. I left the father in England as I had a job and my dog to come back to. That sounds quite callous leaving my son’s father for a job and a dog but as I’ve mentioned before there were other factors to take into consideration (which I might divulge some time). I could have packed up everything and gone back to him but due to his circumstances I didn’t. I didn’t know whether he would be that supportive either so thought I would be better off in Australia.
When I arrived back in Australia it was a bit of an anti-climax. I felt like shit both emotionally and physically. I was nauseous nearly the whole time, vomited most mornings and felt really really tired. I had never felt so tired. I would drag myself to work, try and stay awake while doing my job and it was even harder because initially nobody at work knew of my condition.
When I got home I would go straight to bed for a restorative lie down then I would get up to eat. I was really lucky that I had two people living with me at the time who cooked for me quite regularly otherwise I would not have eaten much at all. I lived on fruit and fizzy drinks. I had a pasty one day and just through it up in the toilet an hour or so later. As it was I lost weight during the first trimester of my pregnancy. The only person that knew my news at that stage was one of the people living with me so luckily I had her to talk things over with.
On my first day back at work a colleague welcomed me back and asked if I came back married or pregnant. I nearly choked but at this stage I hadn’t told anyone else so I didn’t want him to be the first to know.
During my first week back at work I went to my local doctor, confirmed my pregnancy and booked myself into the hospital to give birth. It was all quite unreal at this stage and I was still experiencing a strong case of denial.
After this third positive pregnancy test I knew I had to tell my family. None of them lived in Adelaide at the time (I have one sister here now) so I phoned them. They were all duly surprised as this was totally unexpected but they all got over the shock remarkably well and were quite supportive.
After I told my family I gradually told my friends and then work colleagues. Stupidly I was a bit conscious of what they would think of me being single and pregnant but if anyone thought I was a stupid fool they didn’t say so to my face. I think I thought I was more of a stupid fool for getting myself pregnant than anyone else did. I’m sure that I provided some gossip amongst my friends for a while though. I kept trying to imagine myself with a child and how it might change my life as I knew it would. I tried to imagine going for walks with my dog and a pram and who the hell would babysit and what would I do during school holidays. I got carried away thinking through all the scenarios I could imagine that would occur when I was a mum. All the thinking in the world does not prepare you for when it actually happens though.
No sooner had I told my boss, he had a replacement lined up for my absence from work even though there were a few more months until I was to finish work.
Once I got over the hurdle of telling people important to me, the news soon spread to acquaintances on the grapevine, the next hurdle was to accumulate baby stuff for as little amount of money as possible. I’d just been on a nine week holiday overseas and didn’t have that much spare cash lying around to buy nursery furniture and other mountains of goods that newborns seem to need. I put the word out and soon my empty spare room (my housemate moved out very quickly soon after I told him I was pregnant but this is another story) was filling up with baby stuff.
Now, having used up all my baby stuff and being pretty sure I won’t have another one, I know it’s a relief to offload this gear as it takes up a lot of space and I have been able to get rid of it to friends who need it. I’ve heard about people who must have all brand new stuff which I don’t quite understand if you can get decent gear for free. I think the first brand new more expensive thing I bought JJ was his single bed once he grew out of his cot and this was when he was two years old.
As the due date came closer I seriously thought about who could be my birth support partner. One of my choices was immediately ruled out because she was also pregnant. I asked someone who I thought might be pretty good but she didn’t sound too keen and I don’t blame her as she doesn’t have any children and seeing someone give birth is pretty daunting I imagine. I ended up asking another friend who turned out to be just fabulous. As soon as she said she would do it she was there for me suggesting things that might be useful and just being really supportive.
One of the things she did was come to ante-natal classes with me. We were the only pair who weren’t both parents of the child to be. I think I could have done without these classes as they don’t really prepare you for anything but I did sit through a video of a non-complicated vaginal birth which I never thought I could do.
I’d booked myself into the Women’s and Children’s Hospital and they used to offer (and may still do) pregnancy yoga classes for women having children at their hospital. I heard about these classes fairly early on but it was all I could do to turn up to work and then go home and have a rest. I couldn’t face going to yoga after work until I was about 13 weeks pregnant. Once I started though, I kept going until the last week of my pregnancy. It was really relaxing doing the classes. I don’t know if it helped me during the birthing process but I’m sure it didn’t hinder.
Towards the end of my pregnancy I made up a list of what to take into hospital for the birth and she contributed some things also. We had, in no particular order:
- bourbon and coke (didn’t drink it and why I thought it was a good idea I can’t imagine)
- lollies (these came in handy)
- two books – Saturday Night Fever and another one (we read one page)
- Tape recorder and tapes (listened to for a while but had to turn off while getting an epidural and it never went back on)
- coins for the carpark and the phone
I’d finally gotten over the denial that I was pregnant. This only happened when I went to my ultrasound at about 18 weeks and saw that baby move inside me. Not even the most deluded person can deny they’re pregnant when they see that.
What would you like to know next?
Thanks J – although my ex was with me throughout the pregnancy, I have many friends who have also gone through this experience as you did – without a great deal of support, in some instances especially from the father.
How have you found other people’s attitudes to you as a “single mother”? I only ask as I felt it quite keenly for a few years but that may have also been of the heightened emotional rollercoaster I was on during those years, whereas I have some friends where it is water off a ducks back to the extent that they do not even notice its presence.
To answer your question Jeanie, other people’s attitudes toward me as a single mum have been mostly fine. That is I when I told people I was pregnant I didn’t feel any judgement at all. Once people got over the shock they were really cool about it, surprisingly so I felt because I had expected different attitudes.
However, now that my son is at school and has had some behavioural problems while settling in there I’ve experienced some, what I feel to be, attitude. The first question people ask is what is the home situation and I can see their brains ticking over when I say I’m the sole parent.
I don’t let this get to me too much though because I can’t change this situation and I feel I’m doing a pretty damn good job considering.
I just stumbled across your blog as I was surfing through the internet and I had to leave a comment on it!
It’s comforting to hear that I’m not the only single mother out there (obviously, lol) even if it feels like it at times, and that there are other people out there that have the same feelings.
LoL I’m sure it sounds silly, but thank you for posting it.
I’m glad it found it’s way to me.
Michelle at Scribbit says
I have a question and I’m worried that it may sound too nosy or even judgmental but I guess with blogging you can get a little nosier.
You talk as if you never considered not keeping the baby. I’ve always thought that if that were to happen to me I’d give the baby up and go on with my life. Was this something you considered? I mean I don’t want to imply that you should have, I can see your love for your son, but with that kind of a panic attack setting in and worrying about how your life will change it seems the obvious thing to at least consider.
Sorry if I’m being too prying but I was curious.
Michelle, you’re not being nosy or judgemental. If I thought people were going to judge me on this I wouldn’t have posted my story. As for not keeping the baby? It crossed my mind ever so briefly. There’s a bit more about it here (http://www.semanticallydriven.com/2005/08/remember_when.html).
Michelle, you’re not being nosy or judgemental. If I thought people were going to judge me on this I wouldn’t have posted my story. As for not keeping the baby? It crossed my mind ever so briefly. There’s a bit more about it here http://www.semanticallydriven.com/2005/08/remember_when.html
Michelle at Scribbit says
I couldn’t get the link to work for me, getting an error page and URL not found. I’ll check it a little later, maybe it’s a problem on my end.
The link in my earlier comment had a naughty character in it which is why it doesn’t work. Try
I’ve fixed the incorrect URL in the earlier comment!