I was a lot of good and admirable things before Isobel but I wasn’t a mother. I didn’t understand the love that I would have for my baby girl, how I would do anything to protect her and how when I was no longer able to protect her in life, that I would become someone who would face anything to protect her memory, her legacy.
I have become someone who speaks publicly about the most personal of things with little hesitation. I have become someone who overshares on social media because I need to remind people that she existed and that she mattered. I have become someone who complains, about maternity care and the treatment of bereaved parents, someone who sets up focus groups and support services. I have become someone who has no difficulty with being assertive regardless of the audience. Such is the fierceness that Isobel gave me when she made me a mother.
If I could choose, there are definitely aspects of the ‘before’ me that I would like back. The easy optimism, a general compassion for myself, the (slightly increased) tolerance of others, confidence in groups/crowds, the capacity to have fun and feel joy without there always being at least a tinge of sadness and guilt. Another thing from ‘before’ that I would be over the moon to have back would be my ability to sleep well – although my nightmares have improved significantly, quietening my mind and getting to sleep is still a real challenge.
Who am I becoming? Someone who is still figuring out how to be a mother to two children with very different needs. Someone who is still hoping to regain some of her old self while retaining some of the strength that her first baby gave her. I am becoming someone who has made her daughter’s death a part of her story but not the end of it.