There it was a faint blue line, I had to keep blinking to make sure my eyes weren’t deceiving me & to also get rid of the tears! It was Friday 27th September 2019 and my dream had finally come true as I was pregnant! I cancelled my gym session and got ready for work as I couldn’t wait to go and break the news to my Mum and Dad. Before I got to my parent’s house I was washing up and I burst into tears, I was so happy, scared and also slightly sad that I didn’t have a partner to share it with.
My route to pregnancy was less than traditional and a far cry for what I had ever hoped or imagined doing. Like most people I imagined that I would have settled down with Mr Right and planned a family with someone I love. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way, I found myself at 40 years old, single and worried that I didn’t have much time left as my biological clock was ticking. So I made a decision to embark on motherhood alone, when I say alone I mean without a partner in the ‘traditional’ way as I had the support of my Mum and Dad and some amazing friends.
I made an appointment at a fertility clinic to look at using a donor to get pregnant. I can remember driving there feeling nervous, worried about what they would say and what the cost would be! But mainly I felt embarrassed and disappointed that I had got to this stage in my life and had not met anyone, I felt a failure in the relationship department.
After my initial consultation, several tests later and discussing with my parents I decided to go down the IUI route using donor sperm, which is basically like having sex at the right time without the fun! I was advised that IVF may be my better option due to my age and my fertility level, however, I went with my gut and wanted to try the most natural way possible. I had never tried for a baby before, in fact you spend most your adult life trying to avoid it that you don’t realise how complicated and how crucial timing is. I paid for three cycles (3 go’s) and I left it to fate.
I have always been one to try and think positive the majority of the time, I believe in the law of attraction and I had a baby boy and baby girl in my ‘vision book’. I also have a good looking husband so he is yet to transpire lol.
My period came after the first go and I was absolutely devastated! This really highlighted how much I wanted this and how much was riding on it, one attempt down and two to go. I booked myself into reiki, reflexology, stopped drinking and started to imagine myself pregnant. After the second round I started with the usual sore boobs, stomach cramps, feeling fed up, I was certain my period was on its way. I remember sat in a meeting at work and feeling disappointed as I thought my period had arrived as I had stomach ache, however, my period didn’t come and the following day I did my test as instructed by the clinic and there was my thin blue line!!
I flew round to my parent’s house before work as I couldn’t wait to tell them, my Dad was in the kitchen and he just asked what I was doing there and then asked if I was pregnant! I heard my Mum come running down the stairs as she had heard the news, they were both super excited as it was their first grandchild.
That Sunday I was round at my parents’ house and my Mum was in the kitchen crying. I was worried that she wasn’t happy for me, however, she was worried that history would repeat itself and that she wouldn’t get to see the baby. My Mum’s Dad lost his battle with cancer when my Mum was 5 months pregnant with my older brother. She was having treatment for secondary breast cancer which she was re-diagnosed with in 2015. I told her that she was being daft as she was as fit if not fitter than most people I know and was responding to treatment really well.
I was lucky that I had a fairly straight forward pregnancy, not much sickness, I still managed to exercise and started to grow a cute little bump. I got such a positive response from people when I told them that I had done it on my own and I soon realised that it was the best decision in the circumstances I was in. The best thing was I had no one to argue with over baby names! Over the first few months of my pregnancy my Mum had a few wobbles as her main worry was not seeing the baby, the week after I found out I was pregnant her treatment had to be changed as the chemo tablets she was on had stopped working, however, they had an alternative and could keep treating her. I kept telling her she was being daft as she was going to be around to be the best Nana ever!
After New Year my Mum started feeling more and more tired, a side effect of the stronger chemo. She had been so lucky as over the years she never really suffered with side effects of the treatment, she came to boot camp, kept fit and lived a normal life.
On Wednesday 11th March after a few days in hospital we got the devastating news that there were no more treatment options left for my Mum and that she had months to live! I was 28 weeks pregnant. My world fell apart and all I wanted was for my Mum to see my baby. I thought once she came home she would perk up and she only had 11 weeks to wait till she met her first grandchild. I never wanted to find out the sex of the baby as I wanted the ultimate surprise, I had to have a scan on the 18th March as the baby was measuring small, I was worried it was down to the stress. I asked at the hospital if they would write the sex down so I could pass to my Mum as in the space of a week she had massively declined. They wouldn’t do that so I booked a private scan for the following day so I could give to my Mum that way so would at least know the sex of the baby. That evening at 7.25pm my Mum passed away and my whole world fell apart. Nothing can ever prepare you for losing a parent, let alone losing one too soon. I lost my Mum, my best friend and my birthing partner. It breaks my heart every day that she never got to meet her grandchild. I never got to have the scan to find out the sex, up to that day I would have been happy with either sex, however, losing my Mum made me long for a baby girl, that way I could make some sense of it all and hope that part of my Mum lived on in a little girl.
Four days later we had to deal with our first mother’s day without her, then the day after, Monday 23rd March the UK went into lock down due to COVID 19!!
29 weeks pregnant stuck at home in a pandemic, lost my Mum and not sure if we can even have a proper funeral for her. I felt lost, heartbroken and so alone. Here we were as a family coping with grief, I was worried about embarking on motherhood without my Mum or the support of a partner and I had to listen to people moan about home schooling and working from home!
17th April we had a funeral for my Mum, not the one she deserved as we were only allowed 10 people there! She was loved by so many and I know that the crematorium would have been packed out if it had been any other time. We had to sit apart, we couldn’t hug family and friends who were there and we couldn’t have a wake afterwards. To say it was shit is an understatement. The one thing that did make it easier was that people lined the street when my Mum left the family home for the last time to say their goodbyes. We plan to have a full memorial service when all this COVID crap is over, never did we imagine it to have gone on as long as it has!
On top of all this I had to change the structure of bootcamp and deliver it over zoom, which served a purpose at the time but it is not the same as doing live training. I watched my turnover gradually decrease as people had to cancel contracts due to their own personal circumstances, just something else negative to deal with in 2020!
The last few months of my pregnancy were never how I imagined it, the image of me shopping with my Mum, preparing the house and generally getting excited was all blown out the window. Hospital appointments were attended alone, I was shit scared about giving birth and how I would manage looking after a baby without my Mum. The decision to go it alone was made so much easier as I knew I had both my Mum and Dad around, never did I imagine that half of that duo wouldn’t be around to see it.
On Thursday 4th June 2020 I gave birth to a gorgeous little girl with my Dad by my side. I never imagined that my Dad would be my birthing partner as he is squeamish like me and I am not sure he was even there for the crucial moment when my brother and I were born! My Dad wanted to be there and he said it would be what Mum would have wanted. Luckily he was allowed with me, only after I went onto the labour ward. He became a bit of a legend in the eyes of the midwives and he managed not to faint haha. After 4 hours of labour Sofia Lily Springthorpe was born at 02.20am weighing 7lb 9oz. It was a stressful few minutes after the birth as she wasn’t breathing on her own, there were about 6 doctors and nurses trying to get her to breath, I was in tears as I hadn’t heard her cry, I couldn’t take any more heartache. The cry eventually came and I held my daughter for the first time. I would like to say that I instantly found her beautiful, however, here was this little bruiser with a squashed face, hair matted to her and she was giving me some competition in the cleavage department! I soon fell in love and spent two days in hospital before I went home.
Those two days were hard, I had to have stitches, I had lost a lot of blood and my iron level was really low. I struggled with breast feeding and I missed my Mum like hell. To top it off I wasn’t allowed any visitors. In hindsight I probably left hospital too soon as I really didn’t feel well in myself due to the lack of iron, however at the time I just wanted to get home.
We moved in with my Dad as there was no way I could have coped at home alone! No one tells you about the first two weeks of motherhood and women must forget to go on and have more children. My emotions were like something off a Ronan Keating song as I wanted to cry all the time, the hospital must have forgotten to give me my Haynes manual so I had no idea what was right or wrong. To add to the misery, the first time I went to the toilet it felt like giving birth again, where was the gas and air when I needed it!! I was in pain after having stitches so just moving in bed hurt, my once strong core could barely let me sit up out of bed and the once toned stomach now looked like a deflated balloon! No matter how rough it was at the time it was all made worthwhile every time I looked at my beautiful daughter (by this time the little bruiser had blossomed lol) The protection and love I feel for this little girl is indescribable.
To this day I look at Sofia and I can’t believe I have created something so beautiful and perfect. I often sit and cry when I look at her as I can’t believe my Mum never got to see her. I do believe my Mum is watching over us and that she has seen her, however, I never got to see my Mum’s reaction to her, to my Mum spoiling her and being the amazing Nana I know she would have been…….and Sofia never got to see my Mum’s beautiful face.
When Sofia was 11 weeks old I had to go back to the hospital where my Mum had been the week before she passed away as one of my breasts was lumpy! I thought it was down to pregnancy but my GP referred me to the hospital. I met with the consultant who straight away said he saw a lump! I had a mammogram, then an ultrasound and I had to have 3 biopsies there and then as they had seen some lumps which the wanted to investigate. I was sat in the consultant’s room shaking as he told me that he can’t say it’s cancer but he can’t say it’s not cancer! I was on my own and I walked out of the hospital in complete shock, never did I imagine my day would turn out like that. I drove home in tears and had to tell my Dad what the hospital had said. He was so upset as he said he couldn’t go through all this again. My heart sank with worry, if something happened to me what would happen to Sofia!! The wait for the results seemed like a lifetime. I had to go for an MRI scan and my Dad was allowed to the hospital with me for the results. Thank god they came back clear!! I have to go back in 3 months just to make sure they are pregnancy related! This on top of everything else had me at breaking point!
My Dad and brother have been absolutely amazing and adore Sofia (she is going to have them wrapped around her finger when she is older!). I have amazing friends who have the same views as me, so have been there for me from the day lockdown happened. I have had support from friends I haven’t seen for years and if it hadn’t been for all those people I don’t know how I would have coped. Sofia is also lucky that she has a group of ‘Aunties’ that adore her nearly as much as I do. In so many ways she came along at the wrong time as my Mum missed her, however, on the flip side, she came along at the right time as she has eased the pain of losing Mum ever so slightly and is the one thing in 2020 that has put a smile on my face.
COVID has effected people in different ways, for me it has taken away the experience I should have had when dealing with the biggest two things that will probably happen in my life. I shouldn’t be experiencing the death of my Mum so soon, or so close to me having my first child, let alone in the middle of a pandemic.
My biggest regret is not having the balls to embark on motherhood alone a lot sooner, if I had then my Mum would have met the gorgeous little girl I get to call my daughter. Nothing in the world right now can be more dangerous than missed time spent with those you love and care for!
Life is short, make the most of it!