I had my daughter just before everything with Covid 19 kicked off. It was a pretty bitter pill to swallow realising how serious this life shattering pandemic really was just as I became a new Mum.
On top of that I had the recent split with my ex to try to navigate, trying to figure out how we leave behind being ex partners and instead become separated parents to a newborn.
I had to have steroid therapy whilst I was pregnant. It’s immunosuppressant, meaning I was higher risk to Covid and had to be extra careful. My little one was then diagnosed with a throat condition that meant she could also be higher risk, so we spent even more time shielding, trying to track down a consultant from the hospital to find out how much more at risk she was – living in a pandemic unfortunately made it impossible to get hold of them for any info.
So, her father didn’t see her for a long time. From when she was first born in the hospital, up until July, roughly 4 months. It was an unbelievably stressful period, for both of us no doubt although in very different ways.
This whole period was undoubtedly one of the most stressful experiences of my life.
It’s been astonishingly hard all around. I want my daughter to know him, and he wants to know her, To be in this weird situation full of many new things that are scary and confusing, has been dreadful. There were times where it became heated between her dad and me, not surprisingly. He event went as far as to accuse me of somehow constructing ways to sabotage their relationship, which was pretty low and hurtful. This was a turning point for me though, I ignored it and instead focussed hard on keeping very strict boundaries, for my own sanity and for my daughters sake. She did not need parents at each other’s throats. I stripped back contact with him, to get away from arguments and being exes, and to work on minimum contact because that is all we need as her parents.
We didn’t speak for 3 weeks, we had no reason to. It felt great for me having this break, we got away from all the shit and I felt I could really settle into my life.
The thing with having to wait so long for her to see him is that I had months to imagine how much could go wrong. My mind slowly filled with questions that filled me with panic and terror, and my wonderfully overactive imagination flashed loads of scary scenarios into my mind. I worked things up to be bigger than they were.
So when the day came that she could finally see him, I was terrified. I was so nervous for the few days leading up to it. Overthinking everything. Worried about things to do with him, and with me. Honestly, one of my biggest fears was ‘what if I’m horrible to him?’ I was due on, struggling with hormones, and I was about to see my ex, and watch him with our baby whom I’ve barely handed over to anyone, I think it was a fair worry that I might be a bit short or blunt with him.
When the day came an interesting thing happened. Having obsessed over all the things that could go wrong, or how annoyed I might get. I found myself forgetting it all on the morning of their visit. Instead I was just so excited for my little one. I found myself almost constantly saying things along the lines of ‘Pickle, you’re seeing Daddy soon!’ ‘Just you wait, you’re going to have such a great time!’. Looking back on this day, I am so proud of my mother instincts kicking in and me pushing the crap aside.
And here’s the big thing, the visit went well. We got on fine. We really were her parents, because that is what we are. We’re not friends at this point, we’re away from being ex partners, we were just Pickle’s parents, spending an hour together because it was needed for her. Sure there was a bit of small talk, but nothing tricky. It was all about her, about him getting to know her and vice versa.
We had our second visit today, and I’m happy to say that again it went well. We’ve since managed a totally normal text conversation planning another visit. We’ve worked through the difficult leftover emotions from the break up and are getting the hang of being parents.
It’s early days for us. I’m not naïve enough to think there won’t be bumps in the road, but I’m allowing myself to feel hopeful, and even excited for her sake. I’m incredibly grateful that my daughter’s father wants to know her, and that his family do.
I’m crossing my fingers (and toes) that things carry on this well for us all. Let’s face it we’re in it for the long haul now, I definitely don’t want any unnecessary stress.
Here’s to a hopeful future. As always, love to you all, especially you separated parents who are also trying to figure this all out.