Twenty years ago today, I had just given birth to a baby girl, Ivy.
I hadn't had the easiest of times.
I am a very home oriented person. I love the familiarity of my things and the safe feeling it gives me curling up in my own little nest.
For a large part of my pregnancy with Ivy, I had been without a home of my own.
My husband had changed jobs which meant a relocation. He spent the week living in a hotel leaving me with the task of selling the house and packing up our belongings.
Our house in Bracknell sold unexpectedly quickly leaving us the task of finding a new home as quickly as possible in our new area, Northampton.
My mum came house hunting with me and we found a lovely dormer bungalow in a rural location that I fell in love with. As bad luck would have it, the lady selling the bungalow was also pregnant, due about the same time as me. Whereas I was keen to be in my new home before baby arrived, she was in no such hurry. She wanted to take her time, have the baby, move out at her leisure. With hindsight, we should have realised that this was never going to work but the estate agent dealing with us (who was later fired for the way he misled us as buyers and the vendors) had us believe that there was no problem. I wanted desperately to believe that there was no problem.
The people buying our house were pressuring us to agree on a completion date so we took the decision to let the sale go through, put our furniture in storage and for me and my three year old daughter to go and stay with my parents.
It was only supposed to be a temporary measure but the weeks dragged on. The false reassurances from the estate agent were starting to wear a bit thin but we had come too far down the line to give up and start again.
As my due date drew ever closer, my dad began to get nervous. I'm sure he didn't mean to be so hurtful and really just wanted what was best for me but when he told me that he didn't want me 'calving' in his house, I knew I had to get out.
I went to live with my in-laws. It was OK for the first week because they were away on holiday but when they returned it was a living nightmare.
My mother-in-law was a chain smoking, strongly opinionated woman who drank too much and didn't like me.
What should have been a wonderful time preparing for the arrival of a new baby was more of an exercise in burying my head deeply in the sand and shutting out the world.
By some miracle, we did move into our new home with just over two weeks to go before my due date. In achieving this, my husband caused a huge amount of bad feeling between us and the vendor (and made sure that the estate agent paid for his dishonesty with his his job). I am not terribly thick skinned and find this sort of negativity very hard to deal with. My unhappiness with the situation was further compounded by the fact that the vendors were moving into a larger house in a nearby cul de sac. I could see their house from my new kitchen window. It was only a small village that we had moved into and I felt that I would never be welcomed because of the bad start.
It was a very isolating experience.
I had intended to register at the local health centre so that I could begin to prepare a birth plan but the baby had other ideas. It was two weeks earlier than expected but the contractions gripping my belly that night told me that this baby was not going to wait.
I remember sitting in a living room with no curtains watching 'The Blob' on the telly to distract me whilst waiting for my parents to travel from their home an hour and a half away to look after my little girl so that I could go to an unknown hospital in an unfamiliar town to give birth to my child.
My husband was uncharacteristically apologetic as he drove round and round looking for the maternity department.
I was past caring.
I barely spoke a word to the midwives attending me. I shut my eyes and blotted everything out. They asked my husband if I was a practitioner of meditation. He had no idea how to answer and was quite pleased, I think, to have the excuse to leave me when he went to open up the shop he managed in time for the morning trade.
He did come back.
Apart from the constant monitoring of the foetal heartbeat and contraction strength (so I couldn't move about even if I'd wanted to) the midwives mostly left me to it.
When the baby came, it was all of a sudden. I was still covered with a blanket as the midwife struggled to pull her rubber gloves on. My baby girl was a rather sorry looking purple and orange mottled creature.
I don't remember feeling over joyed. There are no photographs. My baby was taken away, bathed and returned to me on the ward.
All I wanted was to get out of there and go home.
I didn't call my parents to let them know they had another grand daughter. I didn't call anyone to tell them the "good news".
I put my make up on to give the illusion of good health and waited in the ward alone through visiting time watching other mums receiving smiling visitors and cooing over their newborns until the doctor came to discharge us.
I don't even know where my husband was. I am guessing he went back to work to make sure they were coping without him.
It is easy to see now how a bad relationship with my husband, a stressful house move, a strained period of living first with my parents then with my in laws all contributed to my natural tendency towards depression. I gave birth to my daughter without going through the process of preparing mentally or physically, with minimum support and with absolutely no pain relief. None of it moved me. I was numb.
It took me a long time to bond with my new daughter. I cared for her but I didn't really feel much.
It is hard for me to reconcile that bad start with the wonderful relationship I have with her now. I adore Ivy. Of all my girls, she is the one that is most like me and loving her has helped me to love myself.
The long period of depression and that marriage are dim and distant memories and I am so grateful that my life is filled with good things now. Ivy, despite our difficult start, or maybe even because of it, is very definitely one of those good things.