What to expect, when you’re expecting as a single Mum…

By new mum Diane…

I am now the very proud ingleingle mother of a beautiful baby boy. However, he was one of life’s wonderful surprises and at the time the blue line appeared, there seemed very few hopeful stories for women like me.

While having a baby is no longer strictly the domain of a heterosexual couple to a large extent, being pregnant is proudly shared by two. And being single with a bump makes you somewhat of a lonely anomaly.

It’s actually easier being a single mother than being single and pregnant. Somehow, i’s easier to explain that the relationship didn’t work out when the focus is on a bonny baby. There’s a hint more empathy in the awkward nod. A bump-with-no-dad creates a lot of assumptions and questions.

The quote that got me through is…

those that fall and get back up are stronger than those that never fall

Single and Pregnant, now what?

Being single and pregnant will require every ounce of strength and resilience you have. It may bring crippling fear, sadness, loneliness and anger. But week by week you’ll make it to the end, and it’ll be your Everest. And what a start to motherhood; to begin raising another human knowing you have endured your hardest moments and are stronger for them.

To give you some context, I have always wanted a baby. Last year I could have written a deeply depressing piece detailing my sadness about the fact my ovaries were emptying out like a tube of smarties.

Forty looms large and I was determined that a baby would be the next step after a great big wedding and a lovely house, just like all the other girls have. Because why didn’t I deserve the conventional dream? I wasn’t asking for a yacht, just a kitchen with an island unit.

I’d like to tell you that I’m reconciled to having sullied my white wedding dress and I couldn’t give a f*ck about an island unit, but I’m still pretty pissed off. I used to sit in my flat sobbing and saying sorry to the baby for bringing him into chaos.

But this is the path I’ve been blessed to travel and having a tantrum about it is a slap in the face to the many thousands of women enduring the agony of being unable to conceive.

And while I wouldn’t have the temerity to count myself among their ranks, for a long time I feared circumstance rather than biology would deny me a child.

See these scars?

How I wound up pregnant and single is a whole other piece of work titled ‘see these scars? They still weep pus’. Needless to say the relationship came to a brutal end and despite being warned that I’d need to keep a civil tongue in my head, there has been no contact since my belly hinted at a bump. I threw him out before the 12 week scan and to this day he doesn’t know that I am raising a boy he will never have the honour of calling his son.

In the early days I could have really done with reading something to give me assurance that I will smile again, the clouds will part and panic will subside. Instead, all Google supplied was photos of Liz Hurley clad in white jeans and the knowledge that Elton and David were propping her up. And while any number of women have been single and pregnant, it’s often an active decision which meant they were prepared.

If like me you’ve been blessed with a surprise, I hope these words might help. I know how hard it is to find single mums in the same position…

Own your story 

This really mattered to me because one of the most egregious things I was accused of was deliberately setting out to get pregnant. It has deeply affected me.

If you’re single and pregnant people will either ask or assume, and while it’s none of anyone’s business, silence will be filled with speculation. Well, I wanted to ensure that assumptions were based on my facts.

I had the long and the short story – my boss, for example, didn’t need the details. That version simply explained that the baby is a lovely surprise but the father and I disagreed on what to do.

Determine your plan 

Get busy building your new life because this baby is coming and you need to be prepared. Absorb the shock and then it’s up to you to work out your plan. It’s impossible to be prescriptive here because circumstances vary, but once you’ve worked out how the first few months of life with a baby will look, it takes a huge amount of pressure off.

The early newborn weeks are very tough and then they move into quite hard, and then harder. But after 40 long weeks you have earned the right to enjoy this amazing time.

I’ll have fifty quid on Amal calling George a useless d*ck!

Be somewhere you are supported because it’s fleetingly short. You may have to compromise, and that could bring frustrations, but I’ll have fifty quid on Amal calling George a useless dick! It doesn’t matter where you are, or who you’re with, a new baby tests everyone.

Nothing has to be permanent or long-term but work it out as early as you can and take the pressure off before the birth and afterwards.

Surround yourself with an army

If ever there was a time in life to rely on others then this is one of them.

I am very lucky to have the most amazing family and friends. When I sent the message announcing my son’s birth I thanked them for their support and I truly meant it. No matter how private an individual you are, let those you love and trust in.

Embarrassingly, the relationship with my son’s father was so short that a lot of people didn’t know I’d been seeing him. This meant that I had to go on a: ‘surprise! I’m pregnant’ tour.

It was bloody hard work but I’m glad I did it. I’m glad I sat down with as many people as I could and explained to them what my situation was, because it paid off in the most amazing ways. And when I couldn’t tell someone face to face I emailed them.

Think carefully about your birth partner

Hopefully you’ll receive lots of offers of support during labour but choose carefully. It’s not an easy role and it can involve much more than cheerleading.

Giving birth doesn’t end with stitches. It’s likely you’ll spend some time in hospital once you’ve had the baby and in many in some ways support after the birth is more important.

In labour you’re so consumed by pain that Beyonce could be mopping your brow and you wouldn’t care. Knowing that someone will be in once visitors are allowed really matters. It means you can hand the baby over and have a shower after a long night. It also lessens any self-consciousness you may feel. Personally, I didn’t give a sh*t, but watching daddy waltz in to complete the Disney-perfect scene in the bed opposite might sting.

Ahead of this, I should mention – don’t go to a scan on your own. The fact is, these procedures aren’t cursory, and if there’s an issue you will need someone to lean on.

To NCT or not?

Despite people telling me to join and make middle class friends this definitely wasn’t for me. Aside from the fact that I’m happy with the friends I’ve got, I couldn’t stand to be confronted by so much coupledom.

Instead I went to the NHS classes with people who definitely didn’t want to start a WhatsApp group and curry night.

We did have to sit in a circle and introduce ourselves, and I did fight very hard not to cry when the spotlight shone on my lone self, but it lasted for a few seconds and then I learned how to bath a baby!

Hold your head up

Many people called me brave. I didn’t feel brave, for me there was no question that I would have my baby. But looking back, the decision to take on one of life’s biggest challenges alone is a fairly gutsy one.

While many of those weeks were the hardest of my life, the reward is unimaginably exquisite.

I know my son and I will be tied together with a bond that started as I cradled my bump and fought to build us a very happy future.

Strength in words

There is a poem called Still I rise by Maya Angelou that I used to read whenever I felt I was falling. It gave me the strength I needed to march on. These are the verses I relied upon most heavily:

You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may trod me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?

Bowed head and lowered eyes?

Shoulders falling down like teardrops,

Weakened by my soulful cries?

 

Does my haughtiness offend you?

Don’t you take it awful hard

’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines

Diggin’ in my own backyard.

 

You may shoot me with your words,

You may cut me with your eyes,

You may kill me with your hatefulness,

But still, like air, I’ll rise.

And so I say to you: rise.

You got this Mama!

We are extremely thankful to Diane for sharing her personal journey with us. It’s important to celebrate motherhood for all it is – the good, the bag, the unexpected. If you’re a single parent, or a parent-to-be and this story helped you, please let us know.  If you would like to recommend a single mums forum for other readers, please do. Likewise, we’d welcome all thoughts and comments, please share away.

If you want to read more like this, check out our top tips for the newborn days below…

Top Tips For ‘The Newborn Days’