It’s been a long time since I took the time to write anything for this blog. In fact I think it will become something else really, more of a store of my thoughts and memories rather than a regular thing to entertain. I have worried about how many others are doing a great job of blogging about living with the loss of a partner – that old story of how can I do any better than it’s already being done by others with more experience of writing than me. However, I am not doing this primarily to talk to the world or compete for readers, but rather to keep memories of the journey safe for the future and particularly my daughter.
With that in mind I do feel the need to fill in some of the past eight years and I will try to do it sort of chronologically.
The early days of my life with Sophie are a bit of a blur. It’s such a big thing getting used to having a new person in your life and to an extent I put aside my grief to deal with the immediate needs of a new baby. We built up our own kind of weird dysfunctional routine. It wasn’t perfect and neither of us got much sleep at night, and the only sleep in the day was when Sophie was in the buggy or the car seat, which meant I couldn’t catch up myself, as I was needed to drive the car or walk the buggy! I got by somehow – with help from my folks who often cooked and provided much company to keep me sane.
I remember feeling so rubbish that when the health visitors came I wasn’t dressed yet – but I’m sure that’s what they expect. I was proud of myself one time though for answering the door whilst feeding Sophie – not that easy to maneuver about to do that when you are a new mum.
As I got into the swing of it I began to go to post natal classes at the local health clinic in Raynes Park. The mums that I met there were so lovely, and the sessions practical that I was swept up in the whole baby thing and happily so. Of course grief and loss was always there, intangible yet so very real. As I mostly just saw the mums with the babies it was OK. I wasn’t too much of a sore thumb. Some of the ladies had husbands who worked away or long hours too, so as we became friends and did more socially it was safe. A safe loving group who were so happy to be mums and share that experience.
During that time the days were OK – they had a pattern to them and I could cope fine. The difficult and dark times were night. I was alone with a baby who didn’t want to sleep. Once or twice it was 3 or 4am before we even got to sleep. There were times when I could understand how people can be tipped over the edge of sanity. I’d never seen so many lonely cold dark hours of the night before. I guess it was love that got me through – that and shear willpower. Love for Sophie and the will to get through each night.
The postnatal group would go for a tea or coffee after the sessions at the health centre. A small café where we had to sit outside as there were so many of us. My first public breast-feeding happened outside this café, which felt like quite a milestone. After the classes stopped we still would meet up. The Raynes Park people would walk up to the common together, meeting others up there and again find nice spots for a cuppa and a place to feed the babes. Time went by and our little ones began to take solids – so all the conversation turned to what we gave them, who made their own, what age you started solids etc etc. It was like having my own hotline to the experts. My own little support group – though I don’t think I realized at the time, but that’s kind of what it was.
Leaving them behind was the hardest part about moving away from Raynes Park and everything I knew. When I made the decision to move to Bournemouth that was really my only regret. Although so many of them have moved away since then, that I was glad I wasn’t left there with all of that lovely group leaving me!
So the end of the first chapter of Sophie’s life was perhaps that move. Our lives were about to change again, but this first little chapter had been a bit of a cocoon in terms of being among familiar people and new friends with babies. It had been an easy transition – being on maternity leave and just having to think about me and baby – mostly baby – didn’t take too much brainpower. But I longed for a move – had been longing for it for years in fact and now I saw my chance. So while on maternity leave I found a house, sold the flat, sorted timings, found friends to help me and moved to Bournemouth. Nothing like a back-to-work deadline to spur things on! But that’s a whole other story.