In this post I wanted to share with you the 4 support networks which I had in place during my difficult pregnancy. Knowing that I would be single and pregnant, I think I was fortunate that I had already started to build the foundations before I even realised how important they would become.
- Family support
I have mentioned previously, and will probably say again in future posts, I am extremely fortunate to have the support of my family. Both my mum and dad have been very supportive of my decision to become a single mother. In addition, my sister has been an essential sounding board and supporter throughout the journey. Further to these three key family members my family network stretches a lot wider. Including my Auntie Joy and Mia’s second cousin Isla who live on the other side of the world, literally, these two couldn’t have been more excited for me and continue to provide us with so much love, encouragement and thoughtful presents all the way from New Zealand.
I am also fortunate that our family is not one to sit around and dwell in times of distress and uncertainty. In fact, quite the opposite and from the time of the 20-week scan in April through to when I gave birth there was a lot in the diary to keep me distracted! I had Aunt Em duties to perform in May at Esta and Timothy’s joint birthday party, Esta then needed to come for her ‘last sleepover’ before ‘Pink Peanut’ arrived. We had Father’s Day for ‘Big Daddy’ (my Dad) and ‘Little Daddy’ (my brother in law Steve)! Then my Uncle was turning 80 resulting in the Kiwi contingent of the family arriving in the UK to visit and celebrate.
The final stage of my incredible family support came when my parents suggested that I move in with them at the end of June. By this stage I was in pain and breathless most of the time, due to all the excess amniotic fluid I was carrying. So just before I could not drive, walk for more than 10 minutes without having to stop and rest, bend down and pick things off the floor, I managed to pack a bag (or ten) and move into their spare room. Again, this showed me how lucky I am to have such a caring family who are 100% with me on this journey.
2. Friends support
As with my family, I am very fortunate to be surrounded by a whole host of super and amazingly supportive friends. Many of my friends have become like additional family members and I look forward to Mia getting to know and love her extended chosen family as much as I do.
A modern day trend for new parents is to go on a ‘baby moon’. I was concerned that as I did not have a partner to go on holiday with that I might feel like I was missing out. However, instead of going on one extravagant trip away, I opted to enjoy a few short trips and visits to stay with my closest friends. This time spent with my friends before Mia’s arrival was very special for me. They all happily adapted to my requests to eat, sleep, and visit the toilet very regularly and seemed interested in watching and listening to me talk about the growing human inside me.
Ben, in particular, was an essential friend to have during my pregnancy. As shared in an earlier post, Ben and I used to be ‘an item’ and we therefore know each other very well. For us being together as boyfriend and girlfriend has been the foundation of a lifelong friendship. Ben and I are in many ways like an old married couple. We bicker and we grump at each other, however we also know what to do to make the other one smile. A bacon and fried egg sandwich with a hug from Ben really does make my day start off rather well. At 37 weeks pregnant it was decided that it was not going to be safe for me to travel to York for my uncle’s 80th birthday party. So, to ensure that my parents did not have to miss out on the trip, I asked Ben to come to the rescue. He happily came to stay for the weekend and kept a close eye on me! They say that friends are the family you choose for yourself and I totally agree. My friends, like my family, provide me with wise words, love and so much support.
Thank you to you all for everything you do for me and now Mia too.
3. Work support
At the time I became pregnant I had recently started a contract for a local pub company. The nurturing, ‘part of a family’ culture this business was very different to the previous companies I had worked for and was certainly one I was very confused by at first. However, over time I grew to love this approach and it was certainly the ideal time for me to experience this less formal and corporate approach to business. One of the best things for me to come out of this contract was the opportunity to work with and become friends with Hannah.
Hannah and I share a love for an organised desk, diary and day. Throughout my pregnancy we took frequent lunchtime walks, waddles for me, around the highlights of Tring! Throughout April, May and June Hannah quickly became my number 1 ‘pregnancy observer’ from 9am-5pm, this included her going in to mild panics when my frequent trips to the toilet took longer than normal (usually I’d stopped to chat to a pregnant colleague!). This support service also continued via WhatsApp on the days when I ended up working from home (when I was in discomfort and pain).
One of the amazing things Hannah did for me was to act as my single point of contact. I would simply message her with the latest pregnancy issue and she would then disseminate the information around the office to the relevant parties to ensure that I was not bombarded with questions and/or emotion provoking comments next time I made it into the office. When the time came for me to make a quite sudden departure from work in early June, Hannah was able to, unflappably, absorb some of my projects, as well as organise a very enjoyable pizza and darts fuelled afternoon out in London for a last hoorah!
Hannah has continued to be an amazingly supportive friend and each week before my blog goes live she reads, reviews and suggests amendments to my posts. Thank you Hannah for everything you have done and continue to do, I really appreciate your support.
4. New Mummy friends
Over the past ten years, as soon as friends started to have children I kept hearing three letters a lot; NCT. As a single woman I debated whether I should be joining one of these antenatal courses. I had a lot of questions; Who would come with me? Would the other ‘normal’ couples accept me? Would it be a helpful/worthwhile use of my time and money? Was it really possible to find like-minded women who I would actually want to spend time with in the future?
To my first question as to who would come with me to the classes, once again my sister stepped in. She very kindly agreed to give up 6 Monday evenings to attend the classes as my ‘birth partner’. I obviously very much appreciated her being there with me, however I also understand that the other birth partners (in our class ‘the husbands’) were also very appreciative to have Sara’s first-hand experience of births to learn from! The other couples were, and continue to be, completely accepting and my being a single mum has never been an issue.
Then to the classes themselves, I would say that they are useful to an extent, particularly if you don’t have any other friends or family members who have had a baby in the last five years who you can bombard with endless questions! However, the real benefit of the NCT course is that they bring together a group of local parents all expecting their babies at the same time. The 8 ladies in our group quickly formed a WhatsApp group and over the last year we have shared advice, recommendations of what and what not to buy, tears and laughter. We have been to each other’s houses, baby classes and of course the pub (until COVID stopped us!).
For me personally the support of these woman has been invaluable, and I look forward to Mia and I spending many more years with these ladies and their children in our lives.