At around 6:30am, she woke before her alarm. She didn’t feel rested, but at least her three-year-old hadn’t crawled into bed in the middle of the night to start unconscious boxing matches. The alarm for 7am. Another school day.
She forced herself out of bed. At this point, she felt fine in herself… until she looked in the mirror. Several large, painful acne spots had formed on her face overnight. Two on the left cheek. A few along her jawline, both sides. A cluster of three on her forehead. Normal.
Her son’s daddy was off work that day, so they all walked up to nursery together. Happy conversation. They met up with another school mum and her two kids. Into the school gates and daddy was being shown around the outdoor space. The door opened: time to go in. She had agreed that daddy would take their son in because they needed to break the cycle of mummy going in to the toilets: N could go all by himself and the teachers were starting to get concerned.
N cried out for mummy. “Go on in!” “I wanna go toilet!!” he started to cry. “You go to the toilet then, we’ll see you later!” Dragged away by the teacher. Tears and screaming. She stood there, helpless, her baby crying out for some help. “Go to the toilet then!” “Just go,” the teacher said to her. Impatient. Demanding. Eyes rolling. Dragging her baby by the arm. All other eyes on her. Screaming and crying.
She got outside and tried to laugh it off, but it didn’t work for long. Walking past the petrol station, holding back tears. “I just know they’re gonna say something at parents’ evening but if they weren’t letting him piss himself, I wouldn’t have started making sure he was having a wee properly!” “I know, but don’t worry now. Don’t get upset!” “I’ll do what I fucking want,” she shot back. Pissed off. He didn’t understand, he wasn’t a mother. Everyone was against her. She was just trying to do the right thing and everyone was against her. No one understood her. She just made a fool out of herself and now she was being told what to do.
Oh and her boobs felt like they were bursting to release milk, but they couldn’t be because the milk went away over three years ago. The boob pain was one of the worst parts. Two to three weeks of it, every single month. So if you haven’t got boob pain, or a womb, don’t tell me what to do, she thought.
The rest of the day was fine. In the evening, she started to feel sick. Her back was pulsating in pain.
That night, she fell asleep too fast. She was having a bad dream and she was aware of it: she tried to wake herself up but couldn’t. When she eventually awoke, her heart was hammering at her chest. She rolled over to her left, breathless. Reached out for him, found him. Touched him and her heart immediately began calming. But it took her a while to get back to sleep again. Memories of going through a stage of anxiety earlier in the year hit her. The palpitations, chest pain, waking shocked and helpless, mind racing. She reminded herself she’d just had a bad day. To take one breath at a time.
That day, the nursery drop was a little easier. She took some time for herself: a face mask, a coffee, some time. But her lower back was hurting. She pushed past it. Lay flat on the floor. Her heavy, painful breasts weighed her down. She couldn’t feel any relief from pain, no matter what position she was in. She held back more tears and pushed past it.
In the evening, when everyone was home from school or work, her headache became so bad that she gave into taking some Ibuprofen. She lay on the sofa. She was distant from everyone, barely talking, urging the pain away. At first, she thought people were being ignorant towards her, but it finally got to the point where she didn’t care what people were thinking. She just wanted to sleep.
The time was 5:00pm.
She had started her period. “Finally,” she said out loud. Now came the real pain.