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Life Chez Dee Episode #2: Always a Mother

It seemed appropriate being Mother’s Day this weekend to talk about being a mother. Not the ins and outs of everything, but just reflecting with a brief synopsis of my experience of motherhood.

The day I knew I wanted children was the day I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with the man who is my husband. I knew deep down I wanted three children, the notion never entered my head as to whether we’d able to have children, or whether it was even possible to have three. All I remember is a feeling inside – a voice in my head – that I wanted and needed three children.

My pregnancy with William was a dream – couldn’t have gone better. No morning sickness – I carried on as normal – five or six gym sessions a week, aerobics, step, bodypump right up until a month before he was born. It wasn’t an easy birth, but that feeling was like no other when he arrived. Perfect in every way; petite features and a mop of dark hair.

William was my world. Such an incredibly clever child, and so articulate. So advanced with his reading and writing … and I thought this was normal. It wasn’t until I was going through the same things with Edward, that I realised how far advanced …. how incredibly clever William was.

I adored my time with William so much. I needed to be a full time mum. That gut feeling was so strong … those thoughts in my head were there … this was what I had to do. So after my maternity leave finished, I decided that I wouldn’t return to work. It was a tough decision, I was giving up a great job, and a good salary. We decided that we could manage. We may not have money for luxuries, or extras, but we could manage. I decided to train and become a registered childminder, and I looked after William and two other children who’s parents were in my antenatal group. It was a wonderful time for me to be with these children. The parents felt more comfortable knowing that they were leaving their children with another mum who they knew; their children spent time playing and learning together too. William grew up with these friends; he learned to share … to share his toys, his books, his home, his space …. And his mother.

I did this until a month before Edward arrived in this world. I didn’t return to childminding after that. I felt that my hands were full with William in the pre-school, just mornings, and a newborn too. It was just too much to do justice to the job of childminding too. I felt that I had my hands full enough with my own very young children.

Edward was late arriving, but when he decided to appear, arrived quickly … no messing … straightforward … pretty much displaying even then the character he would become. Another perfect baby. Big and strong, looking like a rugby player to be honest …. And hungry. He arrived, he demanded food, he ate the lot!

I didn’t know how it could be that you could love more than one child with exactly the same amount of love for each of them. But that’s what happens when you’re a mother. You have an infinite amount of love which every child receives … there is so much love which keeps on pouring out.

Another couple of years on, and I wanted another child. But we were talking about moving house. Relocating. Moving nearer to my family who were up North. Being in Bristol was miles away from our family. My parents were near Manchester; Justin’s parents were in Cornwall; we were in the middle, getting no help from either side. We felt we needed to be nearer. My mother was ill, so having all that mileage between us wasn’t ideal, so we decided to move closer. We felt that with all the upheaval of the move, I needed to settle into our new house before we had another addition to the family. We were relocating areas, so new home, new town, new county even, new job for Justin, new school for William, new nursery for Edward; I felt that I needed to wait for a new baby.

The move went well, the children were settled, and a new baby was on the way. All was going to plan, so I thought. But it wasn’t to be. I miscarried this baby. I don’t know if it was all because of the stress of the move and the uncertainty which comes with a new job, and adjusting to life with a husband working away, settling in to a new community myself. I don’t know if it was just that it wasn’t meant to be, but I do remember how traumatic it all was. I may not have given birth to this baby, but the promise of the child, the carrying of the child, the pain both physically and emotionally of losing that child was incredibly traumatic.

We were so incredibly blessed then when I fell pregnant again. He was a long time arriving … 15 days late … but we were blessed when Oliver arrived into this world. Another perfect son.

We were lucky. I often thought how lucky we were to have three healthy children; three lovely happy, healthy, strong boys. We were the perfect family.

And then one day my whole world was destroyed. In one night my life as it was ended. Edward became seriously ill. Edward died. And so did I …

… I died the night my child died. The woman I was, was no more. The family we had, was no more. The family dynamics, our relationships with each other were not the same. Our family changed. We changed … every one of us. Every one of us lost a part of ourselves that day.

I was still a mother to three children, but now only two were here with my physically, the other was with me in spirit.

I’ve actually been pregnant with four children. I never really talked about my miscarriage until now; I’ve never really said that I have four children. I don’t really want to talk about it; it may be because I didn’t actually give birth; but that pregnancy happened; that pregnancy ended in trauma, but even though it was incredibly traumatic at the time, I have learned to live with this … and quite honestly, it was nothing … nothing …. compared with losing Edward. Losing my fit, healthy, beautiful, funny, witty, strong, firecracker of a 10 year old boy was, is, and always will be the most traumatic thing I think I will EVER, EVER have to deal with.

You never stop being a mother. You still love all your children, and talk about what they’re up to; what they’ve said; what they’ve done. A mother never stops talking about her children, championing them, wanting the best for them, revelling in every little milestone, relaying every anecdote with love and pride. That doesn’t stop when they’re no longer with you. Just because I have a child who has died, doesn’t mean that he isn’t still the same huge part of our family as he was when he was here physically. There is an emptiness; a void which is huge; the lack of noise from him, being so overwhelmingly noisy …. And yet wherever we are, whatever we’re doing Edward is still with us. We think of him, we leave something for him, we talk about him, we talk to him. Whatever we do, wherever we go, there is a nod to Edward – he is always with us.

Life goes on … but nothing like I knew it. There is sadness in me every day. I love my children, I love my family, there is laughter, there is happiness, but there is always sadness too. Even when I’m happy, there is sadness within me.

I have memories a plenty, and for that I am thankful. We may not have had as much money as some because I chose to be with my children full time. I’m grateful that I even had that as an option; but I’m also grateful because I never missed a thing that they did. I witnessed the first smiles, the first words, the first steps, the assemblies, the sports days, the clubs and groups they belonged to, the being there when they got home from school. I missed nothing, and I’m grateful for that.

As a mother, you are there for your children. You are there to wipe their tears and kiss them better, you are there at every school production, every music lesson, every weekend’s worth of homework, every bedtime story. You’re the cook, cleaner, nurse, teacher, taxi, advisor, photographer, bodyguard, advocate, referee, cuddly toy and punch bag. Every day is spent chivvying, nagging, encouraging, guiding, giving advice; praising so much, yet shouting too as necessary. Helping them, loving them. I will always give all I have to my children – giving what I can, doing what I can. Being there for them … always.

I will always be a mother to all three of my children. Even when they have grown up and left the nest, even then, that umbilical cord is still there. That attachment; that bond. That never goes. Nor does it go from the child that was taken from me far too soon, the child who is no longer here physically, but always here in spirit. That invisible cord is still there connecting me. And it will be there until the very end. Until my last breath. I am forever their mother; and my love for all my children will be forever.

So today I have spent time with all my children. I have popped to see my own mother with some flowers; I have visited Edward and sat with him for a while; my mother in law has spent the afternoon with us; I have spent time with William and Oliver, I have received lovely personal handmade cards, lovely flowers and presents. We have played monopoly, I have had a delicious meal prepared for me by William, and I have even tried to get my head round GCSE history revision …. didn’t manage physics though … I know my limits!

I’ve had a lovely day; it has been full of a whole range of emotions … joy, sadness, love, loss, fulfilment and emptiness. I have lots of memories …memories happy, memories sad, memories incredibly painful, and incredibly traumatic …. Memories which have shaped me; memories which fill me with pride … and I have spent the day making more memories with those special people in my life … my children.

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