My darling Squidge,
In just a few weeks, you will be someone’s big sister. What a strange, strange world you have been living in for so long now. You haven’t been able to enjoy the world we built up for you for nearly 4 months now and we’re extending that to keep you and the new baby safe after the birth.
Becoming a big sister is perhaps the biggest thing that will happen to you and we don’t know how best to prepare you. My bump has been part of our social world since almost as soon as we knew there was a baby in my tummy. It’s normal. You use words like “kicking” and understand the baby’s movements. But do you know that a baby being in my tummy means a person is coming to be part of mine, of Daddy’s, of your life?
And yet, right now, what is bigger in the lives of anyone than the disruption, the uncertainty of lockdown? We’re all muddling along, wondering if we’re getting anything right at all? I want nothing more than to be able to take away the uncertainty for us all, especially you. Were it not for the little one coming to join us, this whole year would be a write off after everything we’ve had to go through.
I really thought we’d have a support network ready for you by the time there was another baby on the way. I thought I’d be able to take care of myself in ways that would keep my pain at bay and would make me most useful to both of my babies. But alas, I can’t let you go anywhere you enjoy or be with anybody you love. I have such guilt about that, especially when there’s going to be such upheaval with the new baby.
I have so much pain now. It’s just as well that the world can make no demands of me like it did when I was expecting you. This time around, the pain was kept at bay, thakfully until your daddy came back from hospital, but now I feel like I have been kicked by a horse. The baby is big, the baby is heavy and my hips, just as before are beginning to struggle. My pelvis feels like it’s going to split and I can never be sure I can hold up my own weight. I am so vulnerable.
There isn’t long to go before you’ll be able to introduce yourself as our baby’s big sister. But when Mummy has to live, lurching from surface to surface to keep herself up, 6 weeks feels like a lifetime. It reminds me why I was so keen to be induced with you. However, knowing that the pandemic would keep your daddy away from the repeat, remembering how sad it made me to leave that hospital without you in my arms, hardens my resolve to see this through.
I don’t know if you’ll even remember this time, because you are still so young. But if you do, you may think the way that Mummy has carried this baby is the way that everybody does it. Almost, Squidge, almost. But cerebral palsy complicates it so and still it is something so ignored. I am still a novel idea as a mother, no-one talks about it, or knows how to help. Their sympathetic faces are supposed to be enough, because there’s no physiotherapy or hydrotherapy forthcoming. It’s too late for that now.
And through it all, my beautiful you, you are the one that has to suffer and I’m so sorry. These are not the times I wanted us to have together before you became a big sister. I realised the other day that any pregnancy of mine was always going to descend into an experience of pain. That’s OK, being a mum is worth everything. But day to day could have been easier for us all if the world had stayed free from this awful virus.
I don’t know if you do feel hard done by, but I wanted to tell you how amazing you have been through it all. I can’t imagine the emotional impact the changes in our family life, in the world can have on someone so small. All we want to do is keep you safe and remind you are loved, so, so much.
But you are not daft. You are so intuitive and caring. You have lain beside me in bed, with no option but to watch YouTube videos because I can’t move any more today. I can’t play often and never on the floor. All of our activities have to be table based and I’m very aware that this is a very sedate alternative to your favourite ways to play. But for those, we must wait for Daddy. I very rarely can even move across the room without my walker now. It’s alien to me to have to use it indoors, to rely on it so heavily. Most of the time, I sit in one spot, asking you to do lots of things instead; passing me milk, or medication, or getting your own clothes. But you never complain and I always feel proud seeing you become independent in the ways that I was never allowed to.
It hasn’t been possible to hide my levels of pain from you, try as I might. You know to give me cuddles when my face contorts, or you pass me cuddly toys, or blow raspberries on my cheek to make me laugh. “Mummy’s struggling” are words you can now repeat to your daddy without prompting, you can recognise it in me now and know when to go and get help.
Yesterday, I was biting back tears as I sat on my walker, beaten by the effort of coming downstairs, trying to simply pour your breakfast into your bowl. “I will get breakfast, Mummy”, you told me gently. Of course, you’re not quite ready for that yet, the bowl would be too heavy for you, but oh, my heart burst with love for you.
There was another day this week where we were laying in bed together and I was in so much pain, I cried solidly for I-don’t-even-know-how-long, so ashamed I couldn’t hide it from you. Equally though, I want you to learn it is OK to show vulnerability and to cry. You wiped my tears away, but when they kept coming, you said: “I will go and get Daddy”, before I heard you call out “Daddy…. Mummy’s crying. Mummy’s struggling.” And between you, you made me better in the way that only the safety and the love of our little clan can. Because I did that. I belong with you.
You leant over my bump one bedtime and kissed the baby goodnight. As you pulled back, you said “You’re hurting Mummy’s bum, baby.” I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Because I like to tell you as much truth as is fair for your age. It doesn’t feel worth getting myself caught up in lies and I have complained lots that the growing baby makes my bum ache. But I was so careful to explain that the pain is not the baby’s fault, that it’s a baby’s job to grow big and strong and it’s because Mummy’s legs are not strong like Squidge’s own that I hurt. That it’s all worth it if I get to be a mummy to two wonderful babies.
The thing I am loving most about you in all this turmoil, is that you don’t look at me and see someone incapable. You see your mummy. Nothing fazes you, you never ask too much. And in these times, in these struggles, I just want you to know that I am so, so grateful for you, for the fact that I belong to such a beautiful, caring girl.
You are the daughter that taught me how to be a mum, the daughter that taught me how much I love it and how much it makes me who I most want to be. You are the reason I am so committed to learning to love myself, so that you can understand how to love yourself, this wonderful girl I love more than life.
You are the reason I am doing this again. You have taught me that I can, that I deserve to experience the things that make me happy. That is you, Squidge. You make me happy. And even if the days I don’t feel it, you are what makes me strong. You are the best daughter and I am so proud of us all every day that we made you, that you are here for us to adore.
You are everything. You will be everything to this baby and I’m so glad you will always have each other. You are going to be the best big sister in the world.