I was 35 when that second pink line appeared –18 years after first trying for a baby and 29 years after realising that all I wanted from life was to be a mother. Anything else was a bonus (like my dream to become a published author: check!).
Needless to say, once the shock wore off and the blood test had confirmed the second pink line, and I had that first ultrasound to confirm that there was really a baby there, I - like any other mother - started to make plans with my partner.
We decided early on how we would raise Little C; he would be taught that he could be anything or do anything (as long as he wasn’t a bully), that he could wear what he liked, but that there would be firm guidelines and boundaries about expected behaviour (he would be expected to clean up after himself, he’d get pocket money to save up for the things he wanted, he would be expected to say please and thank you etc).
We agreed early on that I would breastfeed and that we would share his early care and that we would only buy what was needed and not get conned into buying excessive items like baby wipe warmers.
We had a plan! It involved natural childbirth in the next town; we would find a way to be nearby when he was due, so there was no roadside birth. I would eat a lot of fruit and vegetables throughout the pregnancy to keep him strong, and we would play music and talk to him while he was “baking”.
So many plans and so much naivety.
I was 6 months pregnant when they first suggested that a C-Section might be needed (confirmed at 8 months, booked at 9 months). We hadn’t planned for me ending up on five insulin shots a day due to gestational diabetes. The wheelchair I needed in the last few months was something we suspected might happen, but we’d kind of deluded ourselves that we could get away with it.
We also didn’t plan on having to spend the final month within 40 minutes of the city, staying with my aunt and cousin, because there was no way any regional hospital would allow me to birth there due to the high blood pressure, the spinal issues and the insulin complications.
And then he was born, our little miracle and the plan dissolved even further. The “perfect schedule” we’d worked out to keep either of us from burning out lasted about two days before reality punched us in the face. The “mutual support” fell apart when my partner slipped into stress-induced psychosis. I certainly didn’t plan to leave Little C for 12 days when he was five weeks old because I suddenly became very unwell with a life-threatening condition that required emergency surgery in the next town. And I definitely didn’t plan on having to leave the house with Little C late at night to escape the peak of L’s psychotic break and move back in with my parents.
And then we had to put him on formula because my medications are dangerous for him (not to mention my milk turning sour because of my poor health).
I think it’s quite fair to say that nothing has gone to plan. Nothing at all. The only thing that has actually gone to plan is that Little C received his 6-week vaccinations when he was six weeks old.
So how do we cope with all of this? The answer is, it’s very difficult. I’m living with my parents and struggling to cope after months of illness, stress, and trying to look after a newborn as well. L has gone interstate to seek treatment and we’re each trying to support the other. It’s a mess.
But the plan has changed, and all we can do is make a new plan. This time we have a healthy dose of reality under our belts. We know how to ask for help. We know that the plan is going to change again, and it will keep changing. A "plan" is a rough guide at best.
Most importantly, we keep Little C as our focus. The plan will change, but our love for our son will always go to plan. That’s the one thing we can plan on with any certainty.
Little C, meanwhile, is hitting his milestones early. VERY early. We didn’t plan on him being so advanced and us having to adapt so quickly to keep up, but that’s one change of plan I don’t mind. In the middle of all this mess, we have a son that is not only thriving, but zooming ahead.