YOU ARE THE SUN
Trying for a baby, full on party people, we toned down the hedonism and shortly after got pregnant. This great adventure was not to be missed. Full of doubt the decision made itself. My last gig with my huge belly was at the Moulin Rouge in Paris with Charles Webster and the band Presence. My 70’s Calvin Kline pin stripe suit, from a San Fran thrift store looked rather gangster with a black Basque. This sharp authoritative costume was my persona, armour, and transformation into Diva.
Whilst staying at a dodgy hotel in Pigalle, the epicentre of Parisian nightlife, I left said suit hanging on the bathroom door, shower steam a cheap dry clean. It was stolen on our last night. Tears fell, they didn’t just take a suit; they took my second skin, poignant as this was my last gig before childbirth. I eased into a less hectic lifestyle qualifying as a yoga teacher whilst pregnant. Studious weekend retreats were a far cry from Disco Diva but just as close to my heart and soul. Tired of living in Nottingham singing house music, distant from Pan, I moved back to Sheffield, in search of a nest. I’d never missed mum so much. Pan followed, wide-eyed and restless. Steffi visited often, now clearly an alcoholic with a vicious tongue when drunk. Deeply saddened by her demise, with no mum and Duke awl, I slumped into depression.
My body invaded by this little alien being, growing and dancing inside me was amazing and wonderful, though feeling alone, secretly terrified. Struggling to stop smoking and hating myself for still drinking, true to addictive form I began eating for two…hundred… growing to the size of a Galleon over the course of pregnancy, much to Pans horror. His eye began to roam. Feeling abandoned my depression worsened. Some days I couldn’t speak, closed in and shut down, drowning in regret, too scared to leave. Clinging to our dream, which at times shone through, we fought like siblings.
During that hot summer, baby due, we drove out for lunch, a car slammed into the back of us, I felt baby somersault and sat in shock. I got the all clear, unconvinced I went to my midwife, an incredible earthy witch with a sixth sense. She had a hunch something was wrong. Back at the hospital tests showed the baby had spun engaging feet first, footling breech, just like Ray! They booked me in for a caesarean…my heart broke.
Birth pool booked, yoga planned, music sorted, I felt robbed of the experience of natural childbirth. Devastated, no one really understood this loss. The caesarean was a cold brutal affair. The radio was on reporting the child Sarah Payne’s abduction and murder; no one thought to turn it off. The epidural was agony, a drunken darts match as they kept missing the vein. Terrified as they wheeled me into theatre, they pinned a sheet across the middle of my belly and cut me open. Pan peered over the curtain, as I lay horrified by the whole process. I felt rummaging inside me like I was a handbag, a weird indescribable feeling. Then a beautiful screaming baby appeared over the top of the striped curtain, a surreal Punch and Judy moment! Pan held her first, she snuggled into his t- shirt. The midwife stepped in, handing her to me, and I relaxed. Every mother has gone through this but in that moment it feels like you’re the only one.
I was in hospital for a few days, mostly ignored by staff in the crippled health system. Left alone with my baby, tears fell, grieving for my mum, Duke didn’t come, Ray didn’t come, and I knew this little one would only have me on my side of the family.
The shock of surgery, an allergic reaction to diamorphine, and another round of familial abandonment left me weak. I was pressured into names I didn’t like or want. With no one to get my back and a body I loathed, postnatal depression soon dragged me under. My saviour was the connection we had whilst breastfeeding, this most sensuous feeling gave me hope that I would surface from the darkness and become a good mother to this beautiful elfin creature. Overwhelming guilt of being unable to move at times when she cried was crippling. Other people’s anger and lack of understanding and support alienated me further.
It took at least six months for me to emerge and begin to reshape my body, my mind and my world. My darling girl is seventeen this year, an incredible young woman carving out a bright future for herself. I couldn’t be more proud.
We did it.