Thursday the 22nd of September 2011 is a date which has been looming in front of me, taunting me with its ever so slow creeping arrival, ever since Tuesday the 13 of March 2010.
I had clambered slowly up the 12 flights of bitter cold, rock hard and dirty, concrete stairs heading towards my car for the final time, my breath freezing in front of me in heavy bursts.
Heavily pregnant and facing the very real possibility I would need a lung transplant by the time I reached the top, and wondering if there would ever be a time I would feel confident enough to tackle the lift on my own, I remained ecstatic.
My enormous, 80% KFC/20% baby belly bulging out in front of me, swinging from left to right, my arse protruding out from behind me, the sheer volume of my weight increase ensuring it was now so heavy it bumped each and every step on the way up, I stopped for a breather upon reaching my floor.
Leaning heavily against the grimy, dirt stained car park window looking down upon the work place, which had been the absolute center of my universe for the last 8 years, I felt nothing but pleasure.
I was free.
I had a whole year off to play, I was the center of everybody who cared about me’s attention, I had a full month before he arrived to eat as much as I wanted without guilt and then the most exciting moment of my life was going to occur.
I was going to have a baby.
Me, Lexy Ellis, was going to have a baby.
The world would never be the same again.
Labour would be a cinch.
Everybody said so.
It would be a drop in the ocean; nothing in comparison to the years of magical moments and everyday tenderness that would herald his arrival.
Yes I have put weight on, I thought to myself, heaving myself back in to the standing position, my center of equilibrium massively squew-wif, nearly toppling over as I picked up the numerous bags crammed with presents from my work friends, but that too will drop off in a jiffy, everyone said so, so let my 12 months of freedom begin.
I will miss work, but it will still be here in a year’s time, maybe six months if I can get things organized quickly enough.
I am free and am about to have the happiest 6/12 months of my life.
I cannot to wait to see his little face, I cannot wait to cherish his every breath, I cannot wait to hold this little angel in my arms and feel like the world finally makes sense.
He will be my all, and in my all I will find my true happiness.
This will be the best year of my whole damn life.
This will be the best year, although he may not remember it, I will, of my precious baby’s life.
Great expectations and all that.
This morning as I scrambled from my car and headed in to work for the first time in 19 months, a slender size 14, with my nervous system ensuring I was encased within a permanent aroma of bum, I remembered back to that day.
How full of hope I was at what was about to happen.
How excited I was over the coming months.
How happily overweight I was.
How content I felt that everybody seemed to like me, love me during that time.
How bloody deluded I was about the weight falling off.
And how optimistic I was about my shared future.
I leant against that same window this morning, feeling melancholy, and looked out at the work place which had once been the be all and end all of my life, and which now, most unexpectedly seemed like an intimidating and daunting structure, and I thought back to the day I had left, arms filled with dreams and my heart filled with hope.
And I cried.
I did not cry the tears of a victim who does not want to return to work.
I did not cry the tears of a hard done to child who wants her own way.
I cried because I wanted to rewind the clock.
I cried, because I felt I had every right to feel that way, and yet still, there was nothing I could do about it.
I wanted to snatch back the moments I was supposed to have felt, the moments I was meant to have enjoyed. The moment when he first grabbed my finger and I had felt nothing, the moment when he first said ‘Mammy’ and I had shouted that I didn’t care, the moment when he handed me my first mothers day card and I had run to the kitchen in search of a knife to cut away the pain, the moment when he would come for a hug and I would run away as fast I could, and the many moments of hidden tenderness between a mother and her new born that I heard so much about but could not find or feel.
I sobbed because looking out of that filthy window on the world I was now heading back in to, I wanted to snatch back the moments, which post-natal depression stole so brutally from out under me, that I could never re-claim.
I sobbed because the journey I have actually been on, is not the journey I so desperately craved, felt I deserved and had longed for since I was a little girl walking around with my dolly dressed in dungarees.
I grieved for the person I once was, who still lay dormant inside of me, but of whom I had to let go.
19 months ago I was a girl on a mission to enjoy becoming the perfect mother.
Today I am a woman who has been broken, fixed, broken some more and glued back together, for the interim, while she still tries to find a few missing pieces.
I have to let go of the loss of my dreams, I have to let go of the person I was, and I need to release the guilt I have harbored for the little boy, who arrived in this world bursting with love, but who received nothing, from the one person who was desperate to give it to him.
I have to build new dreams, be the person I am now, and replace the guilt with contentment.
At some point I am sure I will be able to do all of these things.
After spending a few moments cleaning up the gunk now splattered across my face, the mascara from below my mouth and the snot from all over my hands, I turned my back on the window and began to totter unsteadily down the same unforgiving stairs I had fought so hard to climb up 18 months ago.
Still not brave enough to take the lift.
‘Hey Lexy.’ My boss had greeted me kindly. ‘ You look great, how are you feeling? Within a few hours, it will be like you have never been away.’
I couldn’t help but think, as I waited for my new gate pass, that it will never in one hundred years, feel like I have never been away, this I can guarantee.
How am I feeling?
Frightened, scared, anxious…. But ready for the next chapter of my life.
The one where my only expectation is to take every day as it comes, and to forgive myself for ‘my year off.’
It was not my fault.
They say, don’t they?
The first chapter of a book draws you in, but the second is where you find the real depth.
I am back in my office, and although my son is in nursery now, he is actually right here with me, engraved in my heart, so being back in work seems small fry.
I hate it yes, but in 3 hours I will see my son.
And once again, I am filled with hope.
And who knows?
Maybe tomorrow, I will be brave enough to tackle the lift.
*This post was brought to you by Post Natal Depression, 1 last shove away from being gone. I hope.