I recently came across a whole load of notes that I wrote whilst pregnant. It's a good job I just wrote them for my own personal record as I was a right moany old crow and my complaints about how sick I felt would have rubbed many people up the wrong way.
Particularly those who might have been trying for a child for a while, while I was in the incredibly fortunate position to have beaten the stats and be pregnant over 40. What an ungrateful cow I sounded!
However, there were some more interesting pieces, things that with everything that happened since - i.e. giving birth and concentrating on raising a child - I had all but forgotten about!
I've decided to rehash a few in a kind of retrospective, in a more sensitive way knowing what I know now, to show myself how I have changed and maybe, as part of the process, some other people might be interested too.
One of the first pieces I came across was a very special evening that may seem a bit "whacky" to some, but to me at the time seemed exactly the right thing to do.
In times of crisis I always turn to religion, and although being pregnant could not be termed a crisis, it was certainly a massive change to my life. It was something I needed to get my head around for sure. It took a good few weeks for it to sink in and this particular event really helped.
As the saying goes, “Once a Catholic, always a Catholic” and the first thing I thought of to do when I found out about my situation, other than telling my parents, was to pray. Although I have long been a sausage on the devil's barbecue, I do still go to church, although not every week, but I do have a faith and I still pray.
I did actually want to go to church immediately but I was feeling too sick and didn't want rivers of puke rolling down the aisles, so I did what I always do and that was to offer up words asking for spiritual help and guidance and the mere act of calling on a higher authority for help is definitely a comfort.
If you’ve been brought up with it, then religion is something that never leaves you – no matter what you might think.
Belt and braces
So when my mum suggested me having the “Blessing of the Expectant Mother” I wasn’t averse to the idea. It’s a kind of belt and braces thing – what harm could it do? I wasn’t even aware that such a thing existed but she had had it done when pregnant with both me and my brother, and things worked out OK so why not?!
So, at nine weeks exactly, my parents arranged for the newly ordained and absolutely lovely Father Alan to go round to their house for the event and she made blueberry muffins and bought special chocolate biscuits. These are essential items for a religious occasion it seems!
Sadly Mr A couldn’t make it as an important work deadline kept him in London. He was very upset but as both me and Father Alan pointed out, it was just as important for this child that he keep his job.
So there we were. The priest, my mum, dad, me and the muffins in their living room as a simple service was performed. I was blessed and a safe delivery was prayed for (something I had been doing since I found out I was pregnant anyway – but having a priest do it too somehow gave it more kudos!)
The blessing also recalled the role of Mary and being likened to her predicament made me, for one fleeting moment, think that I was carrying the Son of God! Alan also read out a beautiful Celtic blessing and the whole thing was wonderful. It was calm and relaxing and gave me a tremendous sense of peace.
Afterwards we chatted and ate the muffins and generally had a lovely evening.
Physically I didn't feel much better, but mentally and spiritually I definitely felt stronger. So, whatever you believe, surely whatever helps has to be a good thing?!
Thankfully I got the safe delivery I had prayed for and, when V was nearly five months old, Father Alan baptised her.It was a fitting way to welcome her into the church as he had kind of been involved from the beginning.
Father Alan has now left our parish but returns occasionally and always asks after V. Our family will never forget his role at the very start of her life and if in the future V wants to get married and would like a Catholic service then I will most certainly be tracking him down!