Hi everyone! Before I start I just want to say thank you to everyone who has sent messages of love and support our way. I started writing this just to vent, and I didn’t think anyone would read it or care, but honestly the well wishes have meant so much. Thank you to everyone reading, sharing and supporting. Much love xxxx
Because of the way I started this, I didn’t really explain the events that led up to the “never walking” appointment and I didn’t really discuss my daughters diagnoses’. So today I’m going to start from the beginning.
April 2016. I started a job in Santander. Probably doesn’t sound relevant, and that detail doesn’t play a gigantic part in this story, but for me, it signified a positive turning point in my life. I had been with my ex (my daughters dad) for maybe 2 years or so, but the relationship wasn’t the happiest (that in itself is a whole other story). But touching on the basics, my ex had lived with me since about October 2015, and the whole time I was carrying him financially. He didn’t contribute a penny towards living costs but still had mouth to continue asking for more. Before Santander, I worked in a bookies, so I was working 60/70 hour weeks every week, to keep up with his ever increasing demands (like I said, a whole other story). Anyways, Santander signified a new start. I was excited to not be breaking my back working ridiculous hours, I was looking forward to not being exhausted all day everyday, starting at 7am and finishing at 10pm. It was the kind of job your parents would be proud of at 19 years old. I started the job in April, and was planning to go to university in September. It felt like life outside of my relationship was looking up, I was excited.
Anyways, fast forward now, in June, I found out I was pregnant. Let me be honest, the relationship, for me anyways, was coming to an end for a long time now. As each day came and went, I just felt emotionally done with the situation, and was semi ready to go. Then to find out I was pregnant. Whew chileee, it just felt like a slap in the face. I can’t even believe I’m fixing my hands to type that nonsense because I look at Zariah and just think this is my BEST FRIEND. God forgive me for even carrying such thoughts, but it’s genuinely how I felt. My partner was older than me but maturity-wise, at that point he wasn’t all there, so it wasn’t exactly like I could lean on him for support. Plus he was going through his own situation, the whole way through the relationship it was just me supporting him. But nevermind all that for now, the pregnancy. I immediately considered abortion. Culturally, religiously, morally, and in every other way possible, to me, abortion is an abomination. But I won’t front, I considered it, heavily. I was so conflicted because I’d had one before, aged 18 (again, another days story), but when I tell you, I have never regretted a decision as much as I did and still do that one. I didn’t think I could do it again, but at the same time I felt trapped with a guy who doesn’t treat me well, and who I know for sure is not the guy I’m going to spend my life with. If I had the baby, I was mentally accepting that I’m going to be a single parent, even though he’s there, because I’m not spending my life with this guy. I kind of knew how the story would go.
All of this is going on in my head, and I haven’t even told my mum yet. My mind was literally fried. My ex didn’t want me to have an abortion, but I think that’s only because he felt guilty for making me have the first one (I’m sorry for saying this a hundred times, but it legitimately is a longggg story that I will cover another day). The relationship with my ex was at breaking point, bringing a life into that situation was just not a smart decision that anyone could have planned, but hey ho, you might be thinking you’re going one way in life and God just slaps you in a different direction. I ended up telling my mum in potentially the worst way possible. As things with my partner were getting worse, our arguments were escalating. We fought physically (with violence coming from BOTH of us, not just him). Fights would just get more and more violent, arguments more spiteful, and the atmosphere more cold. I would ask him to leave so many times, he just wouldn’t budge. I called the police in a few of our altercations, but one day before work, a massive argument broke out, we ended up fighting, and I locked myself in the toilet and called my mum. She just heard hysterical crying, she was panicked and kept asking what was going on. My ex was outside the door saying God knows what, and I just ended up screaming down the phone “I’M PREGNANT”. God knows how my ex and I got over that situation that day, but all I know is I went into work ridiculously late, with a bloodshot eye, and was lying to everyone about how I got it.
My mum, bless her soul, was so supportive. She expressed clearly she was against me getting an abortion, and didn’t understand why I was considering one when only a few months ago I was singing my exes praises, talking about how he’s the guy I wanna marry and what not. I sat down and told my mum the wholeeeee story, and that was the first time I told her that I had already had an abortion 2 years before. But you know what, that woman is a rider. She knew what her values were and made her stance clear, but was willing to support me through any and every decision I made, as any mother should. I went to the abortion place a few days later, but my ex was messaging me begging me not to, and even without his messages, I don’t think I could have gone through with it anyways. So I left the hospital, and just like that the decision was made. I was keeping my baby…
As I’m writing this story, I’m realising there’s so many side stories that need to be told for you to fully understand this journey, but it honestly is another days job, because I’ll just keep you guys here reading forever kmt. But we move…
Me and my ex had a disgustingly massive fight sometime in June/July 2016, you would have thought we were shooting some WWE fight scene. It was ridiculous, there was choking, spitting, pushing, punching and everything else in between. We broke up from there. He actually tried to resolve it after that fight but I was so furious, I couldn’t hold any kind of mending conversation at that time. He eventually left and tbh that was it. We were done. My heart still loved him but I couldn’t bring my mouth to communicate anything other than “I don’t care” and “F**k you”. We were broken up, but he still came to the first scan at the University College Hospital in Camden/Euston area. The scan was nice, you know when you still love someone and the vibe is good, you forget all the spiteful actions and words that have been said prior to that. We went home together after that, excited about baby stuff, talking about gender, and baby shopping and all the nice things that come in early stages of a pregnancy. This was the kind of vibe that makes you forget you’re broken up. The sun was out, it was summer, he came back to mine, chilled, watched TV, ate ice poles, it was just good vibes, like old times. The first scan went well, there were no problems and we got our official due date – 2nd February 2017.
Don’t get it twisted though, one good appointment with my ex didn’t mean a damn thing. I did the pregnancy alone. He came to the other scan, where you find out the sex, but it was bitter sweet. He actually complained that we were having a girl, which kinda put a spoiler on the mood, and when I mentioned it, he said he was joking, and acted like I was the problem. In that same scan the doctor also referred us to have another scan as he thought something wasn’t right with the heart. The next scan, my ex didn’t show, and I was told that Zariah had a hole in her heart. They told me it was tiny and will probably make no difference, but any news that something is wrong as an expectant mother feels like the end of the world, I had to take that on my own, and cried on my way home.
Anyways lemme rewind a bit. I have a mental illness. Everything I’m saying right now just sounds like a recipe for disaster but I want to be completely honest about my experience and the timeline of events. I have a personality disorder which was diagnosed when I was about 17, but because of that, I had to have regular perinatal (mental health) appointments during the pregnancy. Everything was fine throughout the majority though. I quite enjoyed going to the appointments and speaking to the lady, it was an outlet I didn’t have anywhere else. My ex only wanted to play a part or help out if we got back together, which I didn’t want to do, and every time I tried to involve him, he would flake, and when I would ask for help, he would use the excuse of “you’re not my girl anymore” so he didn’t have to play a part. Majority of the pregnancy went that way. We would plan things, i.e. shopping for the baby, putting together lists of things we need, he wouldn’t show, we would argue, he’d say something spiteful or blow up and I’d block him. He spent half of the pregnancy blocked lol, and I did all the other stuff on my own or with my friends.
Overall, there were so many issues with my personal life at the time of my pregnancy, but the pregnancy in itself was fine. I was categorised as low risk and was planning a water birth. There was nothing wrong with the baby throughout (other than the hole in the heart, but medically, it was too small to make a difference). She was growing fine, all the appointments went well, I felt her move quite a lot in the early days, I got used to doing the pregnancy alone and I quite liked it. My skin was glowing, work was going well, the only real problem I had was my ex, who was super hurtful at times, but I distanced myself, and things went alright. He was ghost most of the pregnancy. His working situation was a mess so I always did everything financially alone, although he would talk of all the things he was gonna do for her, but in the back of my mind, I knew not to buy the dreams he was selling. When he did start working, he didn’t buy a damn thing for Zariah. Instead, he rocked up to my flat in a new North Face jacket. What the hell? I was out here putting everything into getting things for my daughter, which I was quite excited about, and my ex, who was begging to get back together, was using his money to buy designer clothes instead of putting even 20% of his money towards his baby? When I brought it up, he just argued with me. The whole “ur not my girl anymore” argument made it’s comeback. For someone who was texting and calling me everyday talking about he wants to try again, he sure used that line quite a lot. He would advertise himself as single on his social media, whilst texting me at the same time telling me he loves me and our unborn child and wants to be a family. Urgh, I look back now and just think what in the actual hell was I doing lol.
Anyways, back to the pregnancy. Summer came and went, we were into the winter months and February just kept getting closer and closer. Because of the mental illness, in that first perinatal appointment, they offered medication I could take whilst I was pregnant to help me manage. However, the doctor had said that no medication was 100% safe for the baby, and because life was going quite alright (aside from my ex), I wanted to go without. That decision came to bite me in the bum towards the end though.
I got bigger and bigger, but without medication, things began to pile on. I think for anyone pregnancy is a hard thing to go through, but it is especially hard when you’re on your own. I’m the kind person who likes to keep busy and keep moving. When I’m at home, it just gives me space to think about too much and I always end up feeling depressed. I lived a complete different life at home compared to when I was out in the world. From about 28/29 weeks, the depression started to follow me out of the house. I started calling the hospital antenatal line asking to be induced. Because there was no medical problems requiring me to bring Zariah in the world as a premature baby, the hospital kept declining. I look back a lot of the time and realise how completely naive I was back then. I was practically a kid having a kid, I never knew how serious having a premature baby can be, so I just kept asking and asking. Like I said, the hospital kept declining. In December, everything went to shit. I had started my maternity leave, and was getting closer to the due date, and honestly I don’t think I’ve ever been so low. Because I wasn’t going to work anymore, the only time I would leave the house is for the occasional hospital appointment or baby shopping trip with my girl. I spent most of the days indoors crying, self harming and asking to be induced. The end of December was the hardest. I reached my breaking point and the pregnancy was beyond miserable, my ex partner was absent, and only ever showed his face to argue with me and threaten me when I wouldn’t see his point of view. “I’m gonna take custody of her and call mental health and social services and you’ll never see your baby” was the most popular one. For someone that knew of my mental illness from the day he met me, his ignorance was still high as ever. He was spiteful as hell and would say absolutely anything to provoke a response.
Even though I did well not to engage with the back and forth towards the end of the pregnancy, it really did affect my mental health. I was breaking slowly. I couldn’t manage and I began to feel ill thoughts towards the pregnancy and the baby. I kept saying I just wanted the pregnancy to be done, and honestly, I’m not even sure what I meant by that. I stopped looking after myself towards the end. Stopped leaving the house, showering, eating, taking general care of myself or the baby. Everything in my house was neat and prepared for a baby. I built a chest of drawers, a new cot, a new wardrobe by myself. Bought a moses basket, washed, ironed and put away all Zariah’s clothes neatly. Despite me saying I wanted the pregnancy to be done and all sorts of nonsense, I had already prepared.
One day, I just remember feeling really low. I was desperate for my mood to change, as I could feel my mental health deteriorating. I just started feeling sadder and sadder, and then there reaches a point where I stop acting rationally, and can only describe my mood to professionals as “feeling shit”. Once I reached the point, I went to the GP, crying, looking like an unkempt mess, demanding pills. That obviously raised red flags, because the GP was not the person that told me I can just request these pills and they would give them to me should I need them, and even so, medication for your mental health often takes numerous weeks to kick in, making you feel worse before you feel better. At this point I only had like 4/5 weeks left of pregnancy, but I genuinely didn’t feel as though I would make it there. Once the GP told me they wouldn’t be able to prescribe me anything I just upped and left, which didn’t help because they became increasingly concerned and called the hospital and the mental health crisis team. When I’m in states like that though, I tend to isolate. I switched off my phone for days, and missed my perinatal appointment at the hospital. Because of my sudden lack of engagement, social services were called to assess my welfare and the welfare of my unborn baby.
& just like that, my unborn child was on the child protection register.
I mean, it didn’t happen “just like that”, there were a few things that were said and done before social services made that decision, but that’s another days story. But that decision there, was my worst nightmare.
Anyways, even though my mental health was struggling, I didn’t want to harm my baby, so although I disengaged with the mental health services, I kept to all my antenatal appointments, and made sure she was good, and she was. For the whole of the 9 month pregnancy, my baby was fine. We never missed any antenatal appointments, she was growing fine, I felt her kick and move around, she was the picture of health, until the 27th January 2017.
I’m really not tryna leave you guys on some cliffhanger Eastenders vibe, but I really need to pause. I feel like this story has been going forever, and I’m pretty sure I’ve kept everyone for way too long. If you are reading this, I will update the next part as soon as possible and try and get back to Zariah instead of everything else I’ve mentioned thus far. I just wanted to give an honest recollection of my pregnancy and how things were before the birth.
Again, thank you guys so much for reading, I’m still a little in shock at the response, but it really does mean a lot. I wanted to document this story because the stuff covered is not widely spoke about in our communities. A lot of the stuff mentioned, i.e. abortions and poor mental health is something that many people experience or encounter in this day and age but fail to speak openly about due to the stigma. Only after I was born did I tell the rest of my family that I had a mental illness, and even then, it was only because it was a condition imposed by social services in order for me to keep my daughter. The stigma attached is soo real. Anyways, thanks so much for the love, and anyone and everyone can feel free to message me about absolutely anything, should you want to comment or speak about something else. Feel free to share with anyone you feel this may help or inspire. Love x
Here’s the first picture I took of Zariah in the early hours of the 28th January 2017. I’ll update as soon as, and thanks again for reading x