When I fell pregnant I was running a restaurant that was owned by a friend of the chap that had owned the Grill I had worked at previously. About 3 months into the pregnancy the restaurant was sold and I was jobless. I immediately hooked a few shifts back at the grill and worked there until I was too big to get past the tables. I was fortunate enough to have befriended the owner of a local fallafel shop in the mall who had been struggling to find a honest manageress. We agreed that I would work there until the baby was born. I worked up until 2 weeks before my due date. Heavily pregnant I would have to move tables, lift and turn chairs and stock, to say nothing of the normal duties required, it was very hard going.
This pregnancy was a roller coaster of exhaustion and hunger. Towards the end I wasn’t earning much and because staff food at the fallafel shop was ONE toasted sandwich a day, I was really taking strain. I was so malnourished that my teeth started breaking and crumbling. I had lost weight and was carrying an enormous baby, I was quite literally all stomach. Once I had got to the point that I could no longer work the pressure was on! No income, no family to help I was in deep water.
It was round about this time that my new brother came to the rescue. I was on the verge of losing my home because I had no money for rent. I was well on the way to a complete breakdown – life was really harsh. He swooped in and paid my rent for 6 months, paid for my daughters schooling for a year and generally saved us from complete disaster.
I had no facility to translate his kindness. I was in a state of panic as I didn’t know how the heck I could ever repay him, I was deeply grateful for his help and yes I was ashamed! I hadn’t known him for very long and there I was, knocked up and virtually destitute. My fantasy of meeting my family as a successful, intelligent and confident human being was in tatters.
Help also came from The Lioness, my friend/sister/mother all in one. Once the flat was secured there was still the problem with food and supplies. Nice to have a home, not so nice to starve in it! At this time she was also sitting on the bones of her butt financially but she would arrive constantly with not just food but luxuries too. I’m not going to give too much away here because frankly she deserves a post dedicated only to her which I will write soon. Where my brother rescued me financially, she rescued me emotionally as well. To this day I believe her love and support quite literally kept me alive.
Despite the help, I was still struggling, and more than the monetary nightmare I was reeling with the darkest depression I have ever experienced. My daughter and I were not doing well together, things had reached fever pitch in our relationship. I was alone, frightened and carrying the baby of a man who didn’t love me.
My worst ever memory was produced during this time. My daughter had gone to work one night and I was alone at home. For the first time I truly understood what my child had gone through all those years while I had to work and she was alone. I was overwhelmed with guilt. I was desperately sad, for her, for me and for the future of the baby. I decided to try and call the baby’s father to chat with him. I wanted to discuss the possibility of giving my child up for adoption because I just couldn’t see a way to survive without finances. I couldn’t bear the thought of giving my child away, but being the cause of it’s sorrow and deprivation was worse. I needed someone to talk to and called the Dodgy Barman- BIG mistake. He was drunk, very drunk. I was desperate for someone to hear me. I kept trying to explain how I was feeling but he talked over me, totally off his face and I eventually put the phone down.
I had a carpet with a square design on it. That night I began ‘walking the square’. Round and round cradling my stomach, crying, apologising to the baby and raging at God. It a definate truth that when your emotions are out of control, your body is too! I ached everywhere, I felt like I’d been run over by a bus and I guess in an emotional sense, I had been. I wanted to die, I wanted to live – I wanted the pain to stop.
I thought of sleeping tablets and painkillers. Surely that would be the gentlest way for myself and the baby? I had failed utterly as a mother to my eldest, how could I do that all over again. We had struggled all our lives to survive and now I had made things worse by falling pregnant. Surely my daughter would be better off without me. My new baby and I would die together, saving us both from the possibility of seperation and my eldest would finally be free to decide her future without my influence.
That night I walked and planned and cried and raged – but I kept walking. Frantic and crazy with grief I kept walking, until I couldn’t walk anymore. and then I slept.
Somewhere, somehow I found the determination to keep going. I say that as if that strength came from me – I’m actually not convinced it did.
Eventually I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. My father came up with her name, it meant Grace, and considering all that had happened, Grace was the one constant blessing throughout.
Grace that we survived, grace that my eldest daughter and I loved each other despite our wars, grace that at the most desperate times help did in fact come to us – (albeit it often at the last minute) and grace that today I consider my eldest daughter to be not only my greatest fan but my dearest friend.
Grace – we would all have been destroyed without it.