Three years ago yesterday, June 19 2013, I found out I was pregnant. It was a day I will never forget.
To mark the anniversary of our ‘pee-on-a-stick’ day, I asked my mum to write a guest post, sharing her thoughts and feelings – how she felt receiving the unexpected news, about becoming a grandmother at just 52 (though she looked about 42) and how she went about not panicking but supporting us so fantastically. Hopefully this will help someone out there who may receive the same unexpected news one day and inspire them to handle it with care and compassion rather than judgement and panic.
But from my perspective, all I can say is thank you, Mama, for everything you’ve done for us over the past three years; for not worrying when I fell pregnant and instead congratulating me and celebrating when it felt like the whole world was falling apart.
Status: Assistant Headteacher at a Pupil Referral Unit (last chance saloon for teenagers excluded from mainstream school) and single mother of 24 year old daughter.
Time for a change
A year after graduating from university, Amie moved out. She loved living in London and in many ways, I thought my job was done. Obviously I would always be there for her without question but as she began her adult life, I had the opportunity and freedom to do something for me – just me – for the first time in a long time.
I felt like a change. I had lived in the same house for ten years since my divorce; it was too big for just me and I also fancied travelling and working abroad, meaning I needed somewhere I could just lock up and leave or rent out. So I sold my house and bought a 2 bedroom flat; I was so excited as it was the first time I had bought something on my own, just for me with no-one else to consider.
I was moving on July 4.
On June 19, the week after I exchanged contracts, I received a text at work:
When you get a chance give me a call, no rush.
How was I to know that text was about to change the rest of my life?!
Amie didn’t usually contact me during the day, understanding how hectic my job was, so normally I answered her calls and texts as a matter of urgency. However, for some reason, this day was particularly mad; I knew I was leaving earlier than usual so I thought I would call on my way home.
Around 4.30pm I called her from my car as I left school. She sounded quite normal and asked me where I was. Realising I was driving, she said,
“I’ll call you back later when you’re home.”
“Why?” I asked. She said she had some news. I was at a roundabout and I vividly remember thinking that she must have handed in her notice at work. (Amie hadn’t been 100% happy in her role for a while.)“I’m fine, just tell me now.” (Patience is not one of my virtues.)
And then she told me!
The emotions ran through me like you wouldn’t believe but I was just thinking, ‘sound calm.’ The first thing I said after a beat was, “Congratulations!”
I was a bit deflated to realise that by a freak chain of events I was the last grandparent to find out. I also knew this was huge for Amie and the OH – so far off the timing of their life plan that it was bound to be tough. Let’s face it, I’d been in exactly the same position 25 years earlier so I knew how she was feeling. I see now why history repeats itself – we are both allergic to the pill, meaning we’d had to find alternative, clearly somewhat less trustworthy, methods.In all honesty, I was over the moon. I’ve always loved children, but had never been an auntie or a godmother and I had thought that the chances of me being a grandmother were pretty slim – Amie wasn’t exactly the maternal type!
But over the next few days, I realised that all the tentative plans I had been making were all hopeless as I visualised being a helpful mum and doting grandmother. I had even had a conversation with Amie when I put the house on the market saying it would be a great house for grandchildren and she said, “It won’t be for years yet and you can’t live your life for me!”
I knew the flat wouldn’t work with a toddler…
The ghost of divorce past
One strange outcome of all this was seeing Amie’s dad again; I hadn’t seen him for two years, since her university graduation.
Through a strange twist in fate, he was in the country that fateful week and we then saw each other for the next three weekends while we supported Amie in coming to terms with the news (he was brilliant, jetting in from Azerbaijan each weekend).
We have always still got on once the nitty gritty of the divorce was over but Amie preferred to keep us separate as she said there was no use pretending and playing happy families. But in the weeks after the news, we laughed and cried, relived the unexpected news of Amie’s arrival together, which suddenly didn’t seem that long ago and proved that we can still both be there for her when the chips are down.
As time went on, I realised that once you have children together, your lives are intertwined whether you like or not, and the impact of divorce haunts you down the generations. At times it was like reliving the worst times of our separation, getting used to not seeing Amie at weekends and missing festive holidays together – now I would have my time rationed with my new grandchild and miss out on some special occasions.
‘Well blow that for a lark,’ I thought, ‘I’ll work a four day week and make sure I get to spend time with my precious grandchild, whatever happens!’ (I now look after Little Miss every Wednesday.)
I told Amie I would do whatever I could to help her manage with a surprise baby and I have really tried to keep my promise. To be honest, it’s easy, as my daughter and granddaughter are the best and most precious gifts I could ever hope for.
Since that day I have moved home three times, taken ten months off work and found a less stressful job, travelled all over Europe and the UK, had two boyfriends and spent endless happy hours with my girls. My life is richer and fuller than I ever imagined and I am grateful for that phone call every day.
Status: Happy, single, working grandmother (Nina) and Mama.