Sunday, 11 September 2016

"When the gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers"

-Oscar Wilde

I’m writing this at 2.30am. One handed. On the sofa bed in the sitting room.

I have a sleeping baby in my left arm. My sleeping baby.

I have a fiancé too. He’s also asleep… upstairs… in our comfy bed.

If I could travel back in time two years and say to myself ‘In a couple of years you’ll be writing a blog post about your baby and fiance’ I would NOT believe myself. And if I could somehow persuade myself that I WAS telling the truth, I think the two-years-younger-me would probably cry with joy.

At 30, I lived alone, I was single and had been single officially (putting aside that ongoing on-off-friendship-relationship) for six years. I worked from home and rarely met new people outside of my own group of friends. I’d finally gone to the doctors for a medical opinion on my weird periods and chronic illnesses, and had been diagnosed with ovarian cysts and a hormonal imbalance. I even had a spirit reading done (a letter from the spirits, channelled via automatic writing) which gave me the undeniably stark message of ‘your purpose in this lifetime is to learn about your true self. It is a very difficult lesson to learn. Can you be happy without the partner, family and career you desire?’

I decided, at that point, to learn to let go of my dreams which were, deep down, to fall in love and have a family. And it was a really REALLY difficult thing to do. I worked through it with my therapist. I did artwork. I wrote about it. I cried… a lot. I mourned the loss of what I had expected my life to be since I was a little girl. I tried to picture the rest of my life as a single woman: what I would do with my time. I tried to visualise a life of freedom, travel, food and fun. I never quite convinced myself it would be better to be alone… but it was a start.

In my head, at that point, reality was pointing me in one direction: my fertility was questionable, my love life was a mess, my life was solitary and the years I had left to have children were decreasing like grains of sand in the metaphorical hourglass of my existence. Ok, alone it was then.

At some point during this process, I had a fairly profound experience. Magic or coincidence; I’ll let you judge for yourself. For me, it was a blessing.

I had a vivid dream one night. I can still picture it now and almost feel how it felt. I was called outside to look at the night sky, and looked up to see golden stars showering down like glimmering raindrops. It was such an overwhelmingly beautiful sight, I cried in my dream.

When, a few days later, I found out there was going to be a meteor shower, I got the lovely tingly feeling I always get when something falls into place in my head like cogs aligning. I knew I had to get outside and see it happening.
So when the time came I wrapped myself in a blanket, made a hot drink and sat outside the front of my cottage, and I watched the sky. It wasn’t quite like my dream, but I did manage to catch sight of 4 falling stars that night.

The last one was the most poignant. I suddenly remembered that when I was little, I was always told to make a wish if I ever saw a shooting star. But I’d had enough of wishes that didn’t come true, so this time I didn’t wish. I made a statement to the sky. An affirmation. I said ‘Some day soon I will meet a man, and he will fall in love with me, and I will fall in love with him, and when the time is right, we will have a family.’ As I finished my monologue, I was given an answer: a star shot across the exact patch of sky I was looking at. The universe had said ‘I hear you’

I didn’t get hung up on this experience or the announcement I had made that night. I dropped it when I made my mind up to let go of my dreams and replace them with other ideas for a fulfilling life. But deep down, the hope was still there.

I could write (and may still write) whole entries on what happened between then and now, but to keep things simple, I’ll just fast forward.

I met a man. He fell in love with me. I fell in love with him.

In a weird way I felt it coming. I just had a feeling someone special was around the corner. It wasn’t quite love at first sight, but I still fell in love with him in about a week… something I was fairly conflicted about at the time; the logical part of me refused to believe it was possible. I remember saying to a mutual friend ‘I’m so happy… but I’m trying not to get too excited’ and she replied ‘why not? Just be excited!’

She was right, of course. I had every reason to be excited. I’d been hoping and praying for this exact relationship: someone who loved me for every part of me- not just me at my best. Someone who I knew would help me grow as a person rather than expecting me to be perfect. Someone who was willing to talk issues through and compromise for the sake of both of our happiness. Not to mention, I totally fancied him!

Six months later we accidentally made a baby. Two months after that we got engaged.

A month ago, our baby was born during the height of a meteor shower. He kept me waiting 16 days after my due date, and 3 days after my waters broke, just so he could be born at that exact time; just to round the story off and prove that my prayers had been answered.
My life was now complete and we all lived happily ever after. The end.

Except (dammit) Oscar Wilde, as usual, has a point.

A couple of weeks ago, the realisation hit me that this new person in my life: this dream-come-true; was actually the culmination of every difficult lesson I had attempted to learn in the last five-or-so-years (as I fought to eliminate depression from my life).

I have never been through anything as testing as the last month of my life.

It began with the birth. 3 days of contractions and sickness, until I couldn’t cope any more and needed to be put on a drip. And when your baby’s born  you think ‘thank god that’s over, now for the fun part.’ And that’s REALLY when the difficult bit starts!

This wonderful little dream-come-true has taken every inch of the life I had made for myself, and turned it upside down.

I’ve left my little cottage in the countryside and am now living at my fiance’s Mum’s house, the other side of the country to my family, and to the friends I had become close to in recent years. I have virtually no time for the business I was trying so hard to get going.

Our baby cries most of the time. He wakes up crying. He cries after I’ve fed him. Sometimes he cries while I’m feeding him. He often refuses to fall asleep, as if he has something very important he has to be awake for. This will eventually lead to him being SO tired and SO grumpy, he just cries more, because he no longer knows what he wants.

The only way I’ve found to stop him crying, or to help him fall asleep, is to cuddle and breastfeed him. If it wasn’t for my finance stepping in and taking the baby from me, he would literally breastfeed 24 hours a day. I’m lucky if I have time to go for a wee.

3 weeks after our baby was born, my fiancé desperately needed to get back to work, which is when he started sleeping separately. I now sleep whenever I can, mostly in 30min/1hour snatches between night-time feeds, and the odd 2 or 3 hours when my fiancé is able to take the baby.

 I do NOT function well on no sleep.

I’ve battled loneliness, I’ve battled self doubt . I’ve battled regret. I’ve thought ‘I wish things could just be like they used to be’ and hated myself for thinking it. I’ve battled anger at my fiance for sleeping soundly at night while I stay awake feeding our child. I’ve battled my fiance’s anger at me for giving in to melancholy rather than finding solutions to the various problems caring for a newborn has thrown up.

And I’ve found myself contemplating Oscar Wilde’s admittedly pessimistic statement: ‘When the gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers’

Because the thing is, it’s often true. We can create a world in our minds, the way we wish things to be. But there’s nothing in life that simply makes everything better. There’s no alternative happy carefree life out there waiting to be found. Life will always throw up sadness and difficulty, because they are just part of the experience! So when our dreams come true we expect so much from them. We’ve put them on a pedistool, yearning after them, praying for them! And then they’re just as complicated, just as hard work, just as full of sadness, anger and regret as anything else.

That’s not to say they’re not wonderful too! My son is the most incredible gift I’ve ever been given. I am so overcome with love for him I sometimes find myself with tears in my eyes just at the thought of it. I feel the same about my fiancé and I’m grateful every day that I have them in my life.

But it is not easy.

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