As I walk along the street with my (almost) 5-year old son, I see two heavily pregnant women on the other side of the road. I guess from the way they are speaking to each other in a friendly but polite and slightly uncomfortable way, that they have recently become acquainted – and from the folders they are carrying, I also guess they have just left an antenatal class. New mums-to-be, perhaps on the start of a new friendship journey.
It immediately takes me back to 2009 when I was pregnant with Tilly. My first pregnancy. A pregnancy filled with trepidation and joy. The grief and sadness I felt then hits me once more like a blow to the stomach. For that moment, those feelings are still there, as powerful now as they were then.
A time when I longed to be a pregnant thirty-something without the worry of delivering a child with heart defects; and later, of a new mum without the sheer panic of being told something was wrong with her child, and without the ensuing slog of tests and hospital appointments. A time when I longed to be meeting the new mums I’d met during my antenatal classes for coffee & cake, to share our stories of sleepless nights and life adapting to a newborn, and to tentatively step into the world of baby & toddler classes with them by my side.
But as I sit here writing this now, those sad feelings have drifted away again (replaced by other challenging feelings – they never disappear in Tilly’s world!). And I now remember how lucky I was that during that dark period of being Tilly’s mum through her first years, friendships with those new mums had been formed. I wasn’t able to nurture them in the way that I had hoped but they were a small group of amazing women who were patient, funny and understanding. They didn’t expect me to make it to every play date, they didn’t get upset if I cancelled a coffee meet-up last-minute, or if I was pretty rubbish at reciprocating our friendship.
They were there when I needed them on my journey with Tilly – and I’m lucky to be able to call them my best friends 7 and a half years later.