12 years ago as I awaited the arrival of my first child I had a vague idea of what motherhood would look like. I’d been to the antenatal classes, I was as prepared as I would ever be for night feeds, nappy changes, teething etc. After a rough pregnancy I was very much looking forward to meeting this tiny person who was almost ready to be born.
Motherhood has not and does not look much like I expected it would. Sure there are the usual bits, laundry that never ends being one but there are other parts I had no idea would become part of our lives. Never did I expect that I’d still be changing nappies at this age, nor that I would have changed so much in the years since my firecracker of a son made his entrance into the world.
SN parents develop the kind of advocacy skills that diplomats really should envy as we ensure that our children are provided with the support, facilities, equipment etc that they require and deserve. We learn to navigate systems and paperwork that seem put in place to make it more difficult to support our loved ones rather than easier, all the while making sure that homework gets done and that our homes don’t completely come apart at the seams (although don’t look too closely at mine!).
Medical mums and dads however, we’re a different breed even amongst SN families.
It’s a bond forged from shared experiences on High Dependency and Intensive Care wards, from sharing the hardest news that any parent can hear, and from hanging on with every fibre of our being as our children fight to live. We are scarred, battle weary, quite frankly we often look a mess and we don’t always get the happy ever after that our beautiful children deserve. And yet, I feel incredibly grateful to be part of this bruised and battered crew of amazing parents.
Motherhood is nothing like I expected. It’s brutal, it’s messy and it can be heart breaking. But seeing my boy achieve things, watching him do things his way and seeing that awesome smile of his is the greatest feeling on Earth. He really is the centre of my world and being his Mum is the greatest achievement of my life.
I am painfully aware that not all my friends still have their children here with them, others still long to be a Mum. Some are mothers to children who they did not give birth to; many more are just starting out on an uncertain journey with their children after hearing their diagnosis for the first time. Women are incredible creatures – how you come to motherhood doesn’t matter one jot, its what you do with it that counts.