As soon as I found out I was going to have a baby, I became anxious. I had never experienced anxiety in my life before then so the feeling was very unwelcome.
I was sure that something was always going to go or be wrong - I was prepared for it, even. And I think that this contributed to my lack of loving feeling towards my unborn child. I remember having my lunch with my best friend a day or two before my 20 week anomaly scan. I told her my fear that something was going to be wrong, and so as Neil and I went along to the hospital for our appointment, with my 5 year old niece in tow, it took all of me to focus on the fact that I was going to find out for certain that we were having a baby boy. Diverting my focus was enough to shelf the uneasy feeling. For now.
That said, when we got home from each appointment, this one included, I would always look at my notes. What had they written? What did the numbers mean? Were they writing and telling me different things? After the anomaly scan, I googled my baby's measurements.
As I entered his head circumference and his leg measurement and asked google what they meant, I instantly regretted it.
I opted for the Downs screening. It was knowledge I wanted to have one way or another, and when I was having my ultrasound, I pressed the technician to give me her professional opinion. She gave me some numbers that would be indicators for concern or need for further testing and assured me that my baby was nowhere near the markers. The NHS staff had never given me any reason to feel concerned. Ever. But google did. Google told me that the measurements of my baby were a marker for Downs Syndrome.
When I tell you that I phoned the maternity unit in a blind panic, convinced that the ultrasound technician had missed something, that I couldn't breathe through my tears, that the lovely midwife on the other end of the phone was concerned that I was going to hyperventilate, I am putting it mildly. After a very lengthy phonecall, looking at my notes, looking at the ultrasound pictures, she somehow managed to convince me that everything was going exactly to plan - maybe baby was lying in an awkward position which made it difficult to get an accurate reading, maybe he was going to be a small baby, maybe he hadn't taken his growth spurt yet. My mind was eased. Although I still mentioned it to my community midwife at my next check up.
I'd just like to say that all throughout my pregnancy, my fears were completely unfounded. There was no reason for them. I've mentioned before that my pregnancy was easy, all scans and checks and blood pressures were totally normal. But my brain would not listen to reason. It thought it knew better.
Strangely enough, one part of my pregnancy I was not terrified of was labour. I think I saw it more of a means to an end, and I had no anxious feelings about giving birth. I barely remember anything about the final stages but I know there was no fear, and considering that was probably a time for me to be fearful, I have to attribute it to the fact that exhaustion was the overriding feeling and emotion in the days leading up to Luca being born. It was as though my body literally had no energy to feel anything else.
And as Luca was born, my anxiety shifted a bit and post natal depression creeped in a bit. It wasn't fear as such, it was more of a questioning whether I was ready to do this. I can say that as a mother now, I am not anxious over my ability to care for my little boy. I think I have learned a lot and have reached a place where I think I'm pretty bloody good at it. I am anxious over the 'what next's...?'
Luca's autism didn't hit me like a freight train. It was a gradual attack. Something that creeped up slow and steady and every so often would try and knock me down. I would say that the biggest blows have come in the last year. As he gets older, I get more scared. As he fails to reach yet another milestone, I get more scared. As he gets taller and stronger, I got more scared. Because physically, my little boy will look no different to anyone else. He will get taller as he gets older, he will get stronger as he gets taller, and I fear for the day where his physical growth will grossly contradict his mental growth.
What do I do when we reach the point that when he wants a bear hug, I have to be mindful of his pressure? What do I do if he always resists hair cuts and I can't sit him on my lap and hold his hands? What do I do if he wants rocked to sleep at night if he has a nightmare and he is too heavy for me to hold properly. What do I do when the things I do now, I can no longer do?
What do I do if he starts school and struggles and can't tell me? What do I do if he is bullied and can't tell me?
And what do I do when Neil and I are no longer here? What can I do to ensure that he is as loved as he is now, at 3 years old where he is the centre of my entire world?
Having Luca was something that wasn't on the cards for me. That said, I don't think I have ever done anything that has felt as natural as being his Mummy. He is my whole world, my little shadow, makes my heart happy each and every day. He is my greatest joy in this life.
And so how can he also be my greatest fear?