A diary: the single mum on Mother’s Day


05:30 – thanks to daylight savings, the time has magically changed to 06:30! Not that I have had the inclination to change any of my clocks of course. Although I’m as tired as ever, I consider this a success as technically I’ve had a lie in.

06:50 – can’t ignore L’s protests any longer so we get out of bed. No breakfast in bed for me and no card waiting to be opened. Usual morning routine of Little Baby Bum and finding a small window of time to eat my breakfast. Make L’s breakfast.

07:30 – still getting L to eat breakfast.

07:45 – give up after 2 bowls of porridge and a slice of toast thrown at me.

Blur of time, nappy changes, boob and random crying until 09:30 – find some time to scroll Facebook while L is occupied. Cute statuses from people wishing their mums a good day. Some poignant statuses from those who have lost their mums or children. But mainly lots of statuses showing how thoughtful partners have been in helping their children spoil their mums. Lie ins, breakfast in bed, presents bought with pocket money…and the mums with children too young for the concept seem equally spoilt.

10:00 – my own mum arrives with a lovely card ‘from’ L and some Mummy branded goodies. I love her and the gesture but I feel guilty that she’s made more of an effort than I have for her! It may be my first Mother’s Day, but she’s my mum too! But guilt is an everyday occurrence anyway, so I try and move on.

11:30 – we finish a weekly food shop together (no other time to manage the shop with L in tow) and he kicks off halfway around the store, so I take him to the car. He feeds and then throws up all over my seats, door and my clothes. Spend 20 minutes shivering from stripping off layers and mopping my child and car.

12:30 – we go for lunch at a local club and are thrilled with the scenery from the restaurant. Lots of families in the room; we are the only women dining without extended family around. There are flower presentations galore. L refuses his food and is grumpy, so we take it in turns to eat. No chance of either of us having a relaxing meal as there is no-one else to give the mum and grandmother a break. Eventually L falls asleep in his pram and we can eat our dessert in unison.

13:30 – I break my Slimming World allowance to eat a cake and immediately feel guilty. My mum chastises me and reminds me that it’s Mother’s Day, I deserve a treat. Says who?!

14:00 – we treat ourselves to an hour in the garden while L has a nap. It is amazing! Sun on our faces, peace and quiet. But we both keep shuffling around and reminding eachother of all the errands we should be getting on with. I get emotional thinking about this time last year, when we also sat in the garden and I worried about whether to get in contact with L’s dad or not. If only I knew what would unfold as a preemie mum.

15:00 – guilt takes over and we sort out L’s newborn stuff to go in the attic.

16:00 – I build L a new highchair to use at my mums house.

16:30 – highlight of the day; L manages to move himself off his mat and change direction. Countdown to crawling! We both coo over him and I couldn’t be prouder.

17:00 – unsuccessfully take it in turns to try and feed L dinner.

18:00 – somehow I manage to eat some food in between playing games with toast to try and coax L into eating. I decide my mum deserves a break so prepare to leave.

18:10 – L does a poo as soon as we step out of the house. Back in!

18:30 – Another attempt to feed L some fruit. He just wants the spoon. I have loads of things to put away, dishwasher and washing machine to unload but I’m drained. I sit and play with L on the mat.

19:10 – L has gone to bed and it’s still light outside!! Thank you daylight saving!! Finally I might actually have an evening!

19:15 – but as usual, I’m exhausted. It’s too much effort to even take my make up off so I retire to bed. I’ll be shocked if I manage to stay awake past 9pm.

But I’ll be even more shocked if you’ve read to the end of this post! I’m well aware this is an incredibly mundane post. A boring chronological account of the daily grind – except today should be a little different, it’s Mother’s Day. I am acutely aware that I am so incredibly lucky to have spent the day with my mum and baby. I really have had a lovely time with them. I’m also aware that Mother’s Day is just a gimmick.

But maybe one day, I will get spoilt on Mother’s Day. The breakfast in bed, the flowers. The energy to spoil my mum too.

Maybe one day.

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Why are you pregnant and single?

There are many reasons why women find themselves pregnant and single. Most of these reasons are met with sympathy and understanding, such as:

– Your partner has passed away
– Your partner was cheating on you
– Your partner was abusive
– You are a victim of rape
– You are a single mother by choice via a sperm donor
– You are a surrogate mother
– Your partner left you

But what if you never had a partner and you’re not a victim of crime? As we all heard in sex education classes, it only takes one encounter to get pregnant. One drunken mistake. One case of failed contraception. One moment of passion. So why is society so surprised when women fall into another category:

– You got pregnant with someone you were only dating/met for the first time/hooked up with your ex/having an affair/a random one-night stand…and the list continues.

My pregnancy fell into the first category. We had been dating, it seemed to be going well and then the father blocked all contact with me when I discovered I was pregnant. Ouch. For me personally, carrying on with the pregnancy was not a decision to be made. I was going to have the baby. I did not encounter a single woman in my situation during my entire (ha – 30 weeks) pregnancy. And I was active on the mummy-to-be circuit; I was in a Mumsnet due date club and attended pregnancy yoga, NCT classes and birthing classes. I only discovered after L’s birth that a woman I’d met was also a single mum (but in one of the earlier categories).

It’s difficult enough in the early days to answer the endless questions about ‘the father’ both from friends and health professionals. It took a good few months before I could answer questions about the father to the range of midwives I encountered in London. But once I was able to nonchalantly answer any daddy questions, the onslaught would often follow. How long were you dating? Do you know any of his friends/family? Don’t worry yourself, he’ll come around after the birth. Did you think he was a nice person? So, have you heard from the father yet?

I guess some of these questions were well-meaning and just small talk. Instead of the usual ‘how are you feeling’ pregnancy chat, I always had the ‘what’s going on with the father?’ questioning. And the answer was the same for seven months – nothing. Zilch. My situation was clearly novel to most people. It was novel to me too and I spent so much time analysing other pregnant women I encountered. Checking if they were wearing a wedding ring. Feeling hopeful when I saw ringless women and wondering if they were part of my secret tribe. I could pass away hours in the evening (the time between 7-9pm when I had taken myself to bed straight from work) googling ‘single and pregnant’. I never quite found the reassurance I was looking for, just dozens of online forum posts from women asking the same question. But these women had usually been left by their long-term partners rather than my situation.

The closest analogy to the ‘single, pregnant and never had a partner’ category is probably the sad history of the Irish Magdalene laundries. These fellow fallen women were sent to workhouses to hide away their indiscretion. Someone actually commented to me (as a joke) that I was lucky things had moved on since then and avoided that fate. The laundries had expanded in the 19th century to confine women who had been seduced or behaved promiscuously, in addition to prostitutes.

Thank goodness things have moved on. But society is still a little baffled by us single, pregnant ladies with no exes in sight. I got so many blank looks when I said L’s father wasn’t involved – it isn’t rocket science. If you have sex, you accept there is always a risk that it could result in a baby. I wish I’d had the confidence to question why people were so puzzled.

Being a single parent is much more socially acceptable. The baby is the focus of everyone’s attention and maternity leave can be spent in a bubble with other mums and babies, trying to fill their days with playgroups and activities. The fathers have long gone back to work and finally you’re not the odd one out. But if you are still pregnant and single, you’re not the first or last person to get into the situation. Be kind to yourself and remember that it could’ve happened to anyone. It will get easier.

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Single, Pregnant…oh, and a preemie.

It’s fair to say that my life has changed pretty dramatically over the last year. On 16 November 2016, I discovered that I was pregnant. A week later the baby’s father had blocked all contact with me and I faced the prospect of being pregnant and single. I was TERRIFIED. Surely no-one else had ever been in this situation?!

I was thrilled to discover Christine Coppa’s amazing book Rattled a few weeks later; Christine seemed to be my perfect soulmate, another career woman who had fallen pregnant while dating. She seemed pretty positive about the whole situation and had even gone on a ‘babymoon’ before her bundle of joy arrived. Except Christine had two older brothers who were clearly destined to be the perfect male role models. She had a large circle of friends who showered her with cute baby outfits throughout her pregnancy. My US geography isn’t great, but it seemed pretty simple for her to move back to her hometown and commute back to her old life. Happy days.

Rattled gave me a lot of hope that I could be single and pregnant. And I survived. But I didn’t meet anyone else in my situation. It was the darkest and longest period of my life, where I faced complete upheaval by moving back home away from all my friends in London. But of course, it wasn’t that long. Just as I was preparing to freak out put my feet up for maternity leave, my baby’s movements were reduced. Fast forward five terrifying days in hospital and my baby boy L was delivered by emergency c-section at 30+6. My little 2lb 10oz baby. I had to ride the NICU rollercoaster for six weeks before I could bring him home.

And here I am. Baby L is tucked up in bed asleep. And nearly a year after that pregnancy test, I’m still reeling. My life has changed beyond all comprehension. But I’ve survived! Somehow, it has all worked out. So I want to share my experience with others, if only to make sure that any other frightened ladies who type ‘single pregnant help me!‘ into Google aren’t faced with the same list of random articles (none of which seem relevant – except the excellent articles by Coppa, which do help) or an array of forum posts. The endless forum threads always promise the mum-to-be that things that things will get better – but the control freak in me wanted to know exactly how bad it could get! If you’re single, pregnant and end up with a premature baby, then you’re in for a real treat…(and message me, you mythical creature!)