In April of 2013 my life changed forever. I sat in the beautiful bathroom of a hotel in Singapore and held in my hands a stick that said the word pregnant. Around my feet lay 15 other pregnancy tests that I had sent Ian out to buy on the off chance my eyes were playing tricks on me. I raced out to him with a huge smile on my face. We were going to be parents!
The next morning at breakfast we looked a funny pair with sheepish smiles and the conversation ranging from from ‘oh my god’ to ‘we are screwed’
The months flew by and my tummy grew and grew. We bought a run down house and started madly renovating – ready for our baby come January 2014. I was working as a student midwife and loved going to work. The environment had a huge influence on me and my plans of having my own baby and pregnancy.
On my birthday I went for my 19 week scan. The next day we found out our baby had problems with his bowel, 8 weeks later I had an amniocentesis and discovered that our baby has cystic fibrosis. To say my world fell apart is an understatement. I was completely devastated. It was on another level, not something wrong with me but my unborn child?! How unfair could life be? The fear of the unknown weighed heavily on my mind. Ian shut me out and worked tirelessly on our house. He didn’t want much to do with my pregnant tummy, or talk of the baby. It was his way of coping with the shocking news that was so completely out of our hands. I threw myself into work until I just couldn’t work anymore.
6 weeks later I gave birth to our first son; Oliver. He was really unwell and needed surgery straight after he was born. His bowel had ruptured inside of me and he was lucky to be alive. Oli spent five weeks in the NICU. This was a truly terrible time. Any other NICU parents will understand completely.
The next few months at home were filled with tears and struggle. I had recurrent mastitis, low milk supply and I was miserable. Oli kept losing weight, had a tongue-tie and never slept.
My world began to improve when Oli started solids. He became a lot happier that’s for sure. “They are finally feeding me!” I can imagine him thinking. His weight just kept going up and up and I couldn’t have been happier. The pressure was taken off me a little bit – it wasn’t completely my fault anymore that he was so skinny.
Around the 10-month mark I really started enjoying Oli. He started giving so much back and his little personality really began to shine. Ian started to take him out now and then and I was able to have little breaks every so often.
Fast-forward five months and here we are! Ol is now 15 months. He is an absolute delight. I love him so incredibly much. His little personality is a perfect mix of the two of us. He is so fiery and stubborn just like Ian and then cuddly and sweet like me. Haha! Oli is definitely not a baby anymore, he is a toddler! It’s a scary thought, but reassuring too. In terms of Oli’s CF he has been well for the past year. Apart from the hiccup when he was born he hasn’t spent any time in hospital. We religiously do his physiotherapy and medications. It’s just a part of our daily lives now. Something I struggled with so much in the beginning is as routine as making my morning cuppa nowadays.
Of course we have our tough times still. Like any mum I cry some days and find it all too much. This life isn’t what I expected at all. I'm completely out of my depth most of the time! Sitting listening to a doctor tell me that my baby had cystic fibrosis just about broke me. But you know what, it didn’t. I’m stronger than ever. I love the quote ‘this struggle is tough, but you are tougher’ It’s so true. Just when I didn’t think I would survive in those dark days I DID! I didn’t have a choice.
This is a message to all you parents of kids with CF, or just parents in general. It gets easier, so much easier. I know where you have been and I can reassure you – the sun will shine down on you again soon. The dark days don’t last forever.