I don’t know.

I have always wanted to be a mother. My whole life, I’ve truly believed that is what I was meant to do. I think I have even possibly uttered the phrase- “I was born to be a mother”. I have worked for many years in childcare, looking after other peoples children, and thinking I knew exactly what I was doing.
The reality is, now that I finally have my own child, the one thing I have desperately wanted, I have absolutely no clue. None whatsoever. I have never felt so incompetent in my life. I’m not an idiot, I didn’t think it would be easy, as such. But I had no idea how hard it would be. I thought I knew what I was doing. I don’t. I do a really good job of pretending though. I think even my partner believes my charade. She cries, and he looks at me, ‘what’s wrong with her?’ I am, after all, the expert. I’m great with kids, have years of experience, was a good childcare worker. Unfortunately, the only answer that comes to mind, is that I have no bloody idea. Maybe ask the postman, because I don’t have a clue. I thought I was so clever, I wont fall into all those traps that other parents do. I never rocked my baby to sleep, never put her to sleep in the pram. I didn’t want her to rely on ‘props’ you see, to go to sleep. Of course, now she is nearly 12 months old, and will not sleep anywhere except for her cot. That kind of rules out leaving the house for long periods of time. And I still have to pat her off to sleep at least one sleep a day. That is if she will go to sleep at all. Never pictured myself sitting next to the cot, in tears, begging her to Just. Go. To. Sleep. Just F#@%ing Go To Sleep. Because, I’ve dealt with hundreds of babies that wouldn’t settle. I’ve never cried or lost patience at those babies. Because I knew what I was doing.
My baby wont eat. Clamps her mouth shut, turns her face to the wall, and if all else fails, screams bloody murder. I don’t know why. I feel like I should know why, I should have the answer, but I don’t. I do what all those ‘clueless’ parents of children I used to look after do, and offer her everything under the sun to try and get her to eat. And when that doesn’t work, I cry. Again. She fights all her bottles. She fights getting dressed. She fights getting undressed. She fights her nappies. She wont go to other people. She screams in anger if I don’t come to her attention fast enough. She wakes at 5am almost every morning, despite me trying every technique in every book I can get my hands on. She has somehow managed to possess every bad habit, of every child I have looked after. And I don’t know why. By the end of the day, I feel like I have spent the whole day bashing my head against a brick wall. My partner works two jobs. I have a medical condition that prevents me from driving. So it’s just me and her. Every day, all day.
Don’t get me wrong, I adore my daughter. She is gorgeous, and in between all this drama, she is delightful, full of smiles and giggles and sloppy kisses. I love her to pieces. And that makes it worse. Because I want to do the right thing by her. I am the adult, I am the mother. so I should know what I’m doing. I should be in control of the situation. I should not be in tears, wondering what the hell I should do. I should be better.
I asked for help today. Because I’m not coping. I’m struggling, and I want to be a better mother to my daughter. She deserves better. So I rang the health nurse, and have organised for some ‘Enhanced’ care, where they come out and talk to me in my home, and give me some strategies. I know it was the right thing to do. But still, I feel like such a failure. I really thought I would be better than this. I really thought I would know.
Part of me is a bit ashamed of this post. Kind of ruins the image that I have been trying to keep up, that I am, of course, the ‘perfect’ mother. But the other part of me is wondering, maybe I’m not alone? Maybe there are a lot of us out there who just don’t know. And maybe another mother will read this and realise that she is not alone. One thing I actually do know, motherhood can feel like the loneliest job of all. xx

The Twins- Part Two ~ Healing

For a long time after I lost the twins, I kept it all inside. I felt like I didn’t have the right to be sad, to grieve them. I told myself that it was ‘just a miscarriage’, get over it. Yet every day, there was an aching sadness in me that I couldn’t shake. Every single day was filled with ‘what ifs’. What if they were still alive? My stomach would be as big as that lady I just walked past at the shops. What if they were still alive? I would be feeling them kick now. What if they were still alive? I would be stocking up on tiny singlets and jumpsuits. What if they were still alive? I would be going on maternity leave now. I would have two babies now. I would be a mum now. What if, what if, what if….But they weren’t still alive. I did not have two babies. I was not a mother. I was still alone, flailing around, trying to figure out what had happened, why it happened, and why it still hurt so damn much.
Nearly two years later, I somehow stumbled on a group called ‘Bears of Hope’. I looked at their web site, and discovered that maybe it was ok to still be feeling this way. It talked about the affect losing a baby, at any gestation, can have on a person, and how it can affect the rest of their lives. All of the sudden, it occurred to me that maybe I wasn’t alone. Maybe it was, dare I say it, normal to be feeling this way. I tentatively joined an online forum, and shared my story, for the first time ever, in it’s entirety. And my life changed for ever.

All of these beautiful women, beautiful mothers, wrote back to me. They told me how sorry they were about my twins. How I was a mother, even though I had no children here on earth. That I had become a mother the moment I found out I was pregnant and started having hopes and dreams for my baby. They validated all the hurt and grief I had been feeling for the past two years. and finally, after so long of bottling up all the emotion I had been suppressing, I allowed myself to grieve the two little lives I had never gotten the chance to know. And in turn, I began to heal.
The lovely mothers in Bears of Hope asked me what I had named the twins. Nobody had ever asked me that before, their names were something I had never shared. I had named them Ava and Ella. Ava was the name we had chosen for a girl, and since I had been told they were identical twins, my feeling was that they were two girls. Ava and Ella, my daughters.

As the second anniversary approached, I decided that I wanted to honor them, commemorate, not commiserate. I decided to get a tattoo, to once again make the twins a part of me, forever. I got a ‘twin’ symbol with angel wings.

 

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Of course, people asked me about it, and for the first time, I was able to talk about what happened. To say “this is in memory of my twins, who I lost”. They existed, outside of my own head and heart. I began to look for other ways to honor them. I got their names written in the sand. I wrote poetry for them. I acknowledged them. On the third anniversary, my beautiful partner took me away to the beach for the weekend, (at 30 weeks pregnant!) and we lit a candle for them, and found a beautiful secluded beach, where I wrote their names.

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A small, silly way that I acknowledge them, every day, is by only ever ‘signing off’ with two ‘kisses’, ‘xx’ , to symbolise my two angels.
I still cry for them, miss them, think about the ‘what ifs’. I will never stop loving them, missing them, wondering why.  But I allow myself to do that now. I allow myself to grieve for them. I know there are people who don’t understand. Who think I should just get over it, that it was a ‘miscarriage’, that I don’t have a right to grieve for them, as I didn’t even ‘know’ them. I admit, I still worry, writing these posts, that people will judge me, will think it’s ridiculous to feel such loss. But I am the only one who knows what they meant to me. I am the only one who felt that connection with them, who had hopes and dreams for them. I know the ache and the emptiness I felt when they were gone. So in the end, it doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks. They are in my heart forever, and no one can take that away from me. xx