My husband figured that something was up when I’d gone off Mexican food. Rarely a week goes by when we don’t tuck into something spicy and for him this was a major red flag.
Nah, I thought, surely if I was pregnant I would know? I hadn’t gained weight, been sick, hormonal or experienced any of the usual giveaways. But I bit the bullet and took a test - just in case. The result immediately came up positive; in fact, the little white wand practically exploded.
My GP suggested I book a dating scan since I couldn’t be sure of my dates, but I figured I couldn’t be more than a few weeks along.
But during that first ultrasound; unlike the little seahorse I’d been expecting, a ginormous baby exploded onscreen, while the obstetrician cheerily informed me that I was in my twentieth week.
Besides shock (and berating myself for being an utter disgrace to womanhood), I felt incredibly guilty, fretting about those cocktails I’d enjoyed on a recent sun holiday, the precarious ducking through traffic during a New York trip, those hot-tub soaks on a spa break … and all the so-called ‘danger’ foods I’d been polishing off in the meantime.
But the doc was quick to reassure that baby was doing fine. My recent aversion to all things chilli was the only hint of her existence and luckily for us, my other half paid attention – if it was up to me I may well have ended up in the labour ward before I figured it out.
But I guess the experience set the tone for my parenting philosophy from thereon: expect the unexpected.
Having motherhood thrust upon me in such a manner made me realise that there is no one path or right way, you just have to muddle along and take things as they come.
It’s not a philosophy shared by many of my mum friends, and while I’m sure they privately think me too laid-back, in turn I wish they could relax and enjoy the parenting journey a little bit more.
But that’s the funny thing about raising children, don’t we all think our own way is the right way - the best way?
It’s why so many of us can be guilty of looking down our noses at that kid in a restaurant with its nose buried in an iPad, when maybe the child just needs some down-time after a particularly active day. Or why we throw a disapproving glance at the mother of a ‘brat’ who throws an all-out tantrum in the supermarket, when that same child may well have a behavioural disorder.
Despite not knowing the circumstances or experiencing the same journey, most parents feel that we’re naturally more competent, would make more sensible choices, do it better.
The irony is that we deal with the same issues parents from all walks of life struggle with every day; keeping our children safe from harm.
Melissa Hill, 2018.