Friday, 19 October 2012

"You need to work on your marriage"...

When I went into hospital to be induced after my waters breaking days before, Harry's Dad was very keen for me to give birth quickly as it was the beginning of the Euro football tournament. Obviously I couldn't care less, I was just so excited that today was the day I would be meeting my baby, and as I knew how long it took to have William (I was in hospital for 3 days before he arrived!) I wasn't holding out any hope that Harry's Dad would be watching the opening game holding his baby!

Harry's Dad and I have a bit of a funny relationship. We have known each other for many years through various friends as he went to college with a bunch of people I house-shared with when I was a teenager. We knew of each other but didn't really KNOW each other, and were friends on FaceBook etc. I was living in London and just coming out of a long term relationship when I started to chat with Harry's Dad on FaceBook chat now and again as his status updates were always really amusing. Anyway, I was planning a visit to Devon and decided to meet up and we were texting about that for a while. Then he announced he had some annual leave to use up from work and that he would come and visit me in London for the evening. We met up, had some dinner and drinks and had a really great night together and spent the next day wondering around Greenwich. I always felt very comfortable around him and we always felt like we could be completely honest with each other.

Everything happened very fast, suddenly I was leaving London to move back home to Devon, we were moving in together, getting a puppy and then before we knew it we were engaged! He asked me to marry him at a lovely picnic on a sunny day on Dartmoor. We had planned a fabulous destination wedding in the Dominican Republic and in the very same week that it was booked and paid for, I got a positive pregnancy test and discovered our little William was on his way. Obviously, it was a shock, especially as I had been informed by my consultant that I "would never conceive naturally".

In the coming months, we moved to a bigger house and Harry's Dad began working away. I had to quit my job as I was unbelievably sick with the pregnancy and as I was temping it became impossible for me to keep my job open as I just couldn't ever make it in to the office. Things became hard. The honeymoon period had well and truly ended. Harry's Dad was either working away, or out playing football when he was home. I was home alone, unable to drive and with no money, waiting for the arrival of our first baby. I became a bit of a hermit. I lost all my self esteem and confidence, gained a tonne of weight and stayed indoors most of the time. I missed my London lifestyle and my friends, and resented Harry's Dad for going out drinking, and spending lots of time with his friends and leaving me at home by myself. He began misbehaving and things were really as bad as they could get.

After Christmas had passed, I thought that maybe it would be a good idea to get married before the baby came along, so that we were a "proper family" and maybe that would change the behaviour of Harry's Dad. As things were so tight financially, we planned a very small, low key wedding for just close family and a few friends and I was really unsure if Harry's Dad was going to turn up as I honestly felt he didn't want this path. He surprised me, and was there, and we were married. It was a happy day but it wasn't the big day I had always planned, I was an absolute elephant being nearly 8 months pregnant and Harry's Dad was hungover from the night before....!

Anyway, William came along and made the world a very happy place. I felt closer to Harry's Dad as we had the bond of a new little life, who we loved so very much. But, things began to get difficult again when he went back to work, William had horrendous colic, and I was breastfeeding him so there was very little he could do to help with my sleepless nights. I still couldn't drive and felt very housebound, so just before I knew the long weeks away were about to start I decided we would move house again, closer to my nan and to a place where everything was within walking distance. Life became much happier. I had my little boy and I was near to my nan and we were able to do things and see people rather than just the same four walls.

Things between Harry's Dad and I were strained as we rarely spent time together and he was still going out drinking and acting like a teenager. I had learnt to accept how he was, how he would speak to me and make me feel rubbish for not working and not contributing to the household finances, and also that in terms of housework, nothing was shared and I was responsible for everything as well as William.

I was very pleased to pass my driving test and I thought it would be a good idea if I went back to work, to feel as though I was contributing and also to get out of the house and be someone other than William's mummy. After many tearful occassions, I found a fantastic new nursery for William that I felt confident leaving him at. I got a job in a ladies clothes shop in the little town we live in and enjoyed spending two or three days a week being me again. Things between us started to pick up, I felt my confidence returning and our life seemed to be much happier. We decided to try for another baby to give William a sibling and we got caught very quickly. My work were less than impressed that I was pregnant so soon after starting and after some rather strained conversations I decided it was not worth the grief to stay working there.

Anyway, the months seemed to fly by and Harry's Dad and I had our ups and downs. We had a wonderful first family holiday to Spain and things were really great while we were away. Then we came back, things returned to normal and we were arguing again. Mothers Day was a disaster. It had not been planned on the part of Harry's Dad and he had spent the little bit of money we had on a stag do he had planned (for the weekend before I was due to give birth). I was given a lovely card that William had made me at nursery but there was no thoughtful card or gift from my husband, and off he went, and took the car to play football, leaving me and William at home on our own. Luckily I managed to spend the day with my mum as she knew how upset I was and it wasn't so bad after all.

As we got closer to the due date, I started to have pregnancy problems. I was in a lot of pain or very uncomfortable most of the time, I was bleeding and losing fluid on a regular basis and had to make several visits to the labour ward for checks. I always wanted to make sure that the baby was ok but I think Harry's Dad felt like I was putting it on, most of the time.

I will never forget my birthday. I was in so much discomfort, I was crying. I had a lovely day with my good friend who visited from London and my family came over for cake and cards. No present from Harry's Dad, but the promise of a meal at the restaurant where we had our wedding reception. Sadly things were too painful for me to go out for a meal so it was cancelled and then the next day my waters broke.

I had always felt like our relationship was held together for William and if it hadn't have been for him, then I am not sure that our relationship would have made it this long.

Anyway, you know the story of Harry's birth and for the first time in a really long time, I saw some emotion on Harry's Dad's face. I felt so sad that not only was I enduring this hideous experience but he was too. I wanted to protect him. The day we spent with Harry bought us so close and we were able to speak openly and cry together and hold each other. He helped me with my wheelchair that I needed due to my c-section and was very kind and very caring. A side that I had not seen in him for so long.

When we were staying at my parents house and planning Harry's funeral, I felt closer than ever. Like a real team. Things between us were great.

Over the coming weeks life got back into it's old routine of him leaving for work early and me spending the days with William. We became distant. We stopped talking. The arguments started again. Trying to conceive again put us under more strain. My patience with him was wearing thin. I was getting agitated by his laziness and his moods.

It wasn't until one of my counsellors raised the question of how our relationship was going that I said that he was annoying me a lot, and he had said to me "nothing I do is ever good enough". My counsellor said "you need to work on your marriage" I was shocked by her honesty. "Such a high percentage of couples split after the loss of a baby. You don't want to be in that percentage do you?" and I really, truly didn't. And I felt like I wanted to fight for our marriage and not let it go to the rocks. Harry's Dad was working night shifts and I went upstairs and hugged him and said that I don't want to get divorced so we have a lot of work to do!

I have to remember that whilst I can talk about what happened, he doesn't want to or doesn't feel he can. But he still feels the way I do. He has still lost his son, that he loved, as much as I did. The thing that bought us closer will also drive us apart if we let it. So making time to talk and to spend quality time together is so important.

Things are definitely getting better now we are both making a conscious effort to be more thoughtful, and caring, and trying to share responsibilities. To act as a team/united front on decisions or difficult scenarios. And to try to remember what it was that bought us together in the first place.

Because there was a time when I felt like he really was the best thing ever... and deep down, I still do.

Love you Hammy xx

I would like to add a note at the end of this blog as it seems to be causing some controversy.
This is an account from MY perspective. This blog is written as an account from my side of the story.

If it seems as though this is a personal attack on Harry's Dad, then it is not. It is how my marriage has been, for me. So if that is upsetting for you, then perhaps you should try being me. The whole point of this blog is to highlight the "grief journey" and one of the points on this journey is that you need to work at your relationships. And as ours was not perfect to begin with, I felt it important to highlight that fact.

I will add, however, that as ever things are never one sided. I will admit that along the way I have been snappy and had to become a bit of a nag or slightly controlling, but I can hold my hands up and say that I am prepared to address that. As I wrote above, we are working TOGETHER to get things back on track and we BOTH have work to do to make our marriage work.

And just to confirm, I love my husband. He has his moments, but I have written above that I want to work at this and not to let it go. If I didn't, things would be very different right now.

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