I don’t think I could ever adequately describe what losing CJ was like for me. It is physically impossible to explain the feeling you have when something awful happens to your child and you are suspected of being to blame for it, for hurting a child that you know you would die for. There has never and will never be a single bone in my body that would ever harm any child, let alone my own. I used to be a natural with children, I loved them. Being a Mum felt like the most normal thing in the world to me once upon a time. It’s something that I wanted so badly, yet never knew how wrong it could go. After CJ was taken, my body cried out to be a Mum again. I felt so much loss. I just wanted a baby to hold and care for. I had all this love and nowhere to direct it to. I was lost, I was utterly broken.
So, when me and Stewart started to try for a baby and we struggled so hard, I thought being a Mum and raising a child was just not meant to be for me. I thought there was something wrong with me and the world was trying to tell me something. I thought I would lose Stewart because I knew he deserved to have a child and he would make the most amazing Dad, so I gave him the chance to leave, when we thought children wouldn’t be in our future; but he stayed. We went on to get engaged, then married and we planned a life without a child. I gave up. I couldn’t fight anymore. I couldn’t fight through HG, through months and months of negative tests or through any more loss than we’d already faced with our four miscarriages and through me losing the boys; so, we stopped. For years we lived life just for us, but I couldn’t stop talking about wanting a baby. I wanted to try one more time. I knew I wasn’t ready to give up the fight and after therapy about losing CJ and RJ and coming to terms with what happened, I was ready to be a Mother to a new baby.
After two years of trying, on the 30th December 2018, we finally got our wish. We were overjoyed.
Social Services were eventually involved and were causing so much stress that even without all the pregnancy issues I had, I’d have not been able to enjoy being pregnant. I couldn’t allow myself to ever think that this baby would come home. It was too far to fall. I hoped they would, gosh I truly hoped they would. I dreamed about it. I pleaded for it to happen in my mind. I had one brief moment in our baby’s nursery when I allowed myself to feel a peace and calm wash over me and I imagined our baby in their crib. Asleep and at home. Ours. Just ours. For one fleeting moment. Then I cried because I was petrified that I’d just gotten my hopes up about something else that I was going to lose, and I didn’t know if I could survive another loss.
During the pregnancy I faced bleeds, immobility, HG which caused hospital stays with IV fluids, weight loss and I very nearly ended up with a feeding tube. I went through the fear of losing the baby when we found out I had a short cervix and we also knew the likelihood was that the baby would be early. Not a single second of the pregnancy was straight forward. At my midwife appointments and my consultant appointments, they would ask about Social Services. Every. Single. Time. I couldn’t even have a normal maternity appointment without someone asking about Social Services and taking even that part of normality away from me. Nothing about this pregnancy had been easy but it just goes to show how much you can fight for something when you want something as badly as I wanted this baby.
At 31 weeks gestation, our beautiful girl, Ava Rebecca Ivy Anderson came into the world. I tell myself now that she was trying to beat her big brother RJ’s record for coming early, but she just missed it by a day. Since Ava was born she has had a lot of medical issues to fight through, but she is so strong and is doing well. We also had a fight on our hands. When you think all the hard times are done, I still had to prove my worth. I won’t lie, becoming a Mum again hasn’t been easy. Though I’m happy to say I’ve bonded very strongly with Ava, mentally I’m still suffering from the affects long left by the involvement of Social Services the first-time round with CJ. While I feel like I found my motherly instinct again when fighting for them to get done what was needed to get our daughter home with us, it’s the day to day things that their looming presence in my past life has left a stain on. I question everything I do; I don’t feel comfortable leaving Ava with mostly anyone other than her Dad. I sit with Ava, by her side constantly. I know part of this is due to her medical conditions, but I can’t help but think that actually, I’m certain I’d still be doing that even if she didn’t have her condition. Every time she moves, has a toy in her hand, scoots off to go explore the room she is in, I panic that in a split second something could go so wrong and I could lose my child all over again.
This journey to parenthood has been long, gruelling, heart-breaking, life altering and so incredibly hard that it has changed me for life. For me, this journey started in 2005 when I was pregnant with CJ. The day that I was told Ava was ours to keep and Social Services would no longer be involved was the best day of my entire life. It’s not easy to be a Mum again after the shame of having a child removed though with time, help, and a lot of hard work I know I will get there.
But I have scars from my experiences with Social Services, and they will be with me for the rest of my life.