It's three years since my mum was diagnosed with metastatic cancer of unknown origin. It was already in her bones and lungs and it was all too late. She died six months later, on a July day in 2012, with all the people she loved beside her. She was 63. I was 32 and 5 weeks pregnant with my first baby.
I had no idea then how I would do this. The idea of becoming a mother without her to show me how was inconceivable. At the same time it was the thought of the little person I was carrying that gave me the will to go on. Everything had to be ok. This tiny baby that I didn't know sort of saved me. I was never alone; I clung to it, as it did to me. Is it cheating, being pregnant when terrible things happen? You can only sink so low.
I will always be sorry that Eve will never know her amazing granny. I won't spend a long time telling you how wonderful she was; you'd think my spectacles were rose-coloured, but you'd be wrong. She was just the best and most brilliant person any of us ever knew.
And now that I am embarking on this journey again, with a second child, many of those feelings I had the first time round have come flooding back. I can't seem to get past the thought that my children's lives just won't be as good without my mum in them. I feel a weight of responsibility, raising them without her in the world: I have to show them the goodness that she would have done. And I am scared of those dark early weeks where nobody sleeps and tears come too easily. I did a lot of crying the first time round. I wanted her so badly. Her and only her. To tell me that I was doing fine; that she had been hopeless too, once upon a time. I am scared that I won't be able to breastfeed. I was the world's worst breastfeeder with Eve but I got an A for effort. Which did nobody any favours, least of all me and the baby. (I'll return to this another time.) I'd have listened to her.
The injustice of my mum's death staggers me, still. She had worked her whole life (she was a G.P.) looking after us, and everyone else. She and my dad had just embarked on their retirement and they should have been having fun. That she should have been robbed of these precious years is so desperately unfair. These babies would have brought her such joy. I am sad for her, for all she will miss out on, as well as for us.
While I have been writing this and Ben was putting her to bed, Eve has just done a giant vomit all over the carpet and sofa. It's the little things: I never asked my mum how best to clean up sick. I have essentially slung Fairy Liquid and Vanish all over it in equal measure and used up what was left of the kitchen roll. Any suggestions gratefully received...