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Neurodiversity Celebration Week Guest Blog Series

by Bella Cope.



I am Bella, I am 28 and mum to my six-month-old little boy, Walter. I hope this blog post gives you a little insight in to my life as a solo (by choice!) autistic mum!

 

I recognise now that it is my neurodivergence that has shaped me into the person I am today. The daughter I am to my parents, the sister I am to my brothers, the friend I am to those closest to me but most of all the mother I am to my little boy. It is the reason my life looks like it does today and why at the age of just 26 I decided to begin fertility treatment to enable me to become a mum as a single woman.

 

Growing up I knew I always wanted children and I loved the idea of being a mum but I never gave any real consideration to how this would work for me as an autistic woman. My own childhood was full of love and care but also distress and anxiety. Typically for a girl, I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 15 and had ended up admitted to a psychiatric unit following a mental health breakdown. It meant my teenage years were overshadowed by therapy and medication and left me heavily reliant on others for everyday functioning. It left me wondering if I would ever be a mum but also made me realise, I had to stop trying to fit in to a society where I never really would.

 

I can’t exactly say I always stuck to this though and there were times when I first left home and went to university that I made poor decisions and choices that were a result of wanting to be ‘normal’. I repeatedly tried to be in relationships and I tried to be happy in them but it just never worked. I couldn’t cope with the expectations and pressure of them and I ended up miserable. It took me years to accept I was much happier as a single woman and I came to the realisation that I didn’t need to be with someone to become a mum!   

 

So, I stopped focusing on finding a girlfriend or the perfect person to marry and ultimately started looking into fertility treatment as a single woman. I was really fortunate to be in a position as just 26 to make this my reality and before I knew it, I was in the clinic staring at my ovaries on a screen! It felt so surreal but right at the same time and I don’t think I have ever felt so sure about something in my life.

 

I opted for ICSI treatment where the sperm is directly injected in my egg and after choosing a suitable donor sperm, I had a frozen embryo transfer in December 2023. I was really lucky to have amazing support from all my family and friends about my decision and I knew my baby would be loved and welcomed by not only me but so many others too.

 

Throughout my pregnancy I received vital support from the perinatal mental health team and they ensured that my autism and mental health needs were always taken into account in my appointments, birth plan and preparation. I had a patient passport on my file too and toured the labour ward before the birth to get an idea of what it was like. For me it was the little things that made a big difference- knowing I could unmask and just focus on delivering my baby.

 

In September 2023 and I gave birth to my little boy Walter. Having spent months planning his arrival, my labour ended up being too quick to even consider most of the things I thought I would need. I had an amazing midwife that was very matter of fact, honest and ultimately exactly what I needed. My mum was the perfect (dare I say!) birth partner for me as I really needed someone that was practically helpful in supplying water, snacks and motivation.

 

I think it will forever be the most overwhelming but magical moment of my life when I gave birth to my little boy. It was far from a perfect birth (he was rushed to special care after delivery because he was not breathing properly) but he was and still is utterly perfect to me and it was and still does feel surreal to be his Mama! I don’t think pregnancy, labour and birth is anything like you expect it to be. I don’t think I even knew what to feel for quite a few weeks after his birth and he certainly did not feel like he was mine. It was a surreal experience but one I would do all over again.

 

As an autistic person that loves routine, planning and order, I have learnt that pregnancy is the opposite of all this. That is not to say that with the right support you can’t manage to enjoy it though. I know you can because I did.

 

Six months on and I can’t see my life any different now. Its chaotic, noisy and stressful at times but I have the right support around me and feel more certain than ever that I made the right choice in how I went about having a baby.

 

I feel so lucky to have been able to grow and give birth to the most beautiful little boy, who every morning rolls over and smiles at me as if to say; “We’ve got this Mama”.

 

 

 

 

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