Of course, Sybella was a planned baby, after months and months of heartbreak over failed efforts to conceive. So the fleeting worries that she wouldnt make it here were quite startling. I brushed them away, putting them down to anxiety. I thought I would laugh on the day that I brought her home, and dismiss all the needless worry that I had endured over the last months.
Whilst pregnant with Jack, I started off feeling anxious and by the time he was ready to be born, the anxiety had left. With Sybella, I became more and more anxious the closer I got to her due date.
It began around 21 weeks, and after ruminating for a while, I asked my GP for a scan at 24 weeks, where Sybella's Pyelectasis was diagnosed. From then on, every week was more anxious than the last.
Here is a list of the distressing thoughts I had about Sybella's wellbeing.
- An overall feeling of dread that Sybella would never make it to her June due date.
- A strong sense of affiliation with the month of April, which made me think she would be premature.
- Never being able to "see" Jack playing with her or caring for her.
- Having fleeting visions of a small, blond haired little boy riding a scooter on our back pavers. This worried me because I could "see" this boy so clearly, yet not "see" Sybella. We hadnt planned on anymore children after Sybella, so I wondered why I could see this boy and not her. I've since decided he must be our next child, still to come.
- Thinking, as Kelvin stroked and talked to my belly, that he didnt need to worry about it, because we'd never meet her.
- Feeling sad as I washed her clothes and fitted her pram, thinking that she'd never get to wear the clothes or ride in the pram.
- Buying a sling on the week before her birth, and thinking "I shouldnt be buying this."
- Reading an article on stillbirth two weeks before Bell's birth, and just knowing that I needed to pay attention to how this woman, the writer, got through her own experience so that I could employ the strategies myself.
These thoughts were most distressing, and I had worked with my psychologist for a long time, doing cognitive behavioural therapy. I had been prone to anxiety for a long time before, and so worked very hard to dismiss these thoughts, putting them down to haywire neurons and synapses, or whatever. This baby was planned, and already so so loved, so of course nothing would happen to her! The thoughts and instincts were involuntary, they were never something I thought of by myself, if that makes any sense. They appeared in my brain, and left almost immediately after I had registered it. It is only now that I realise that there is a difference between generalised anxiety and a mother's intuition. I wish I had have listened.