When you have your first child it’s almost like watching it happen to someone else. Your body is doing all these things that the textbooks say it will do, and you haven’t got to do anything to make them happen. The sickness starts and stops, your abdomen expands, sciatica kicks in along with heartburn and a penchant for muesli with yogurt and bacon – yes, all in one bowl!
I tried to hide my pregnancy at work, believing it bad luck to tell anyone other than my husband and our parents until the three-month mark. But that was impossible—sickness and the overwhelming, deep-in-your-bones tiredness that comes with the first trimester made it obvious to every member of staff in the department that I had a baby on the way. They were my friends and were thrilled for me, but that didn’t mean they could lighten the workload in an already overstretched NHS. There were no concessions for having a bump, no special treatment, no slack. It was work, work, work, and still courses to attend as well. I remember sitting with a huge bump, baby kicking like mad, trying desperately to finish a ten-thousand-word essay on acute myocardial infarction management late into the night. My vision had blurred and my brain had fudged. I was exhausted but knew I had to go to work in a few hours. I had to keep on going.
My daughter was born premature. It was a scary time. She was the tiniest little soul I’d ever seen, and despite all my medical knowledge and ability to stay calm in a crisis, I was terrified. Luckily, she soon stabilized, put on a little weight and we were able to take her home. I hardly slept for weeks, not daring to in case something happened to her, and when the time came for me to go back to work and leave her in care, it was as though my arms and legs had been ripped from my body.
Nothing was ever the same again.
I dropped my hours as much as finances would allow and then went on to have another child very quickly. This one I carried to full term and was the picture of health. Within twenty months another baby joined the family. It was then I gave up work altogether. I wanted to be a wife and a mother and be at home with my children. The decision stemmed from one day when I dropped them off at the childminder (who I adored and trusted implicitly) and they all went in happily, not a murmur of complaint, no backward glance. Perhaps that should have pleased me. It didn’t. It just made me think ‘I didn’t have these children so I could spend my days apart from them.’
Fate seemed to shine down on us over the next few months. I gave up work and just as we were really feeling the financial pinch of that decision my husband was offered a new, less stressful job. A job out of London, in rural England, fields, fresh air and communities where everyone knew your name. I felt like soon I would be able to exhale, stretch my arms out, live and grow again. I felt like I was going home.
Lily Harlem is a multi-published, award winning author of contemporary erotic romance. She lives in the UK and writes for several publishing houses including Ellora’s Cave and Total-E-Bound and features in numerous UK and US anthologies.
Her stories are made up of colourful characters travelling on everyone’s favourite journey — falling in love. If the story isn’t deliciously romantic and down and dirty sexy, it won’t be written, at least not by Lily. With the bedroom door left well and truly open readers are warned to hang on for a steamy, sensual ride - or rides as the case might be!