Becoming pregnant forced a nine-month period of sobriety upon me. I had no choice. I wanted to be a good mum and I was smart enough to know that necking Prosecco every night while carrying a developing humanoid in my womb wasn’t cool.
That nine months was the first time I had abstained from alcohol in 20 years.
As a person, over those years, I’d matured. I’d travelled the world, I’d married and knew what I wanted out of life.
But strangly my drinking habits hadn’t followed suit. They got stuck. My binge drinking never evolved. When I drank, I was still that 14-year-old ruffian overdosing on cider in a farmer’s field. I poured it down like a student during Freshers week. I got black-out wrecked when I was 35 just like I had as a youth.
I hadn’t changed in that one area of my life. I was still the one making up excuses not to come home and still the one having my hair held as I puked up into a pub toilet, only now I was regurgitating falafels rather than beans on toast.
Everything else in my life seemed to move forward naturally as time passed. You’d have thought that organically drinking patterns would change too. But, my drinking was stagnant, stubborn, it remained unchanged.
I didn’t drink better or act wiser. I didn’t learn from mistakes or listen to what those two-day hangovers were trying to tell me,
‘You’re hurting because you’re drinking 5 times more than anyone else. Slow down Vicky’
My drinking was like a bad record on repeat.
I ignored my body crying out to me because my drinking head was tuned by the 14-year-old me. A child. A silly girl drinking to be liked, drinking to soak up social awkwardness. I was still her.
After the shock of a positive pregnancy test I decided to kick that immature school girl in the shins and make different choices. I had to consider someone else for once. I had to think about a baby. I was becoming a mother and had to start acting like an adult.
I loved pregnancy, not the piles and the reflux, but the mental side. My brain became clearer. A fog lifted. I wrote a series of children’s book and I started painting. A creative part of me awakened and I felt invigorated. At first I thought it was just the extra hormones pumping through my body but now, looking back, I realise it was because I’d stopped drinking. My body was on holiday and my brain had lit up because it wasn’t being pickled... It was growing.
After the baby popped out, I sat up in my hospital bed with a glass of sparkling wine and a cheers’d my triumphant return my pissed-up ways.
Old habits die hard.
‘Here’s to boozing again’ I said to my husband and down the hatch it went.
I started again, down the zig zaggy road that led to the pub. The writing dried up and my brain went back into hibernation.
End of functional human return to functional alcoholic.
But I remembered....
When I was lying in bed after a heavy session, I reminisced about those 9 months of pregnancy. I missed that person and I missed having excuses,
‘I’m up the duff, I’ll just have a fizzy water please’
I’d actually loved being her, that grown up version of me.
4 years past, 4 years that I spent wishing I could be her again. But I didn’t know how.
Then... I got pregnant again and there she was like an old friend that had turned up unexpectedly on my doorstep. I invited her in with open arms. I wanted her to stay, I wanted our relationship to work this time. I liked her.
Again, I quit drinking that day of the positive test and the schoolgirl was elbowed out of the way by a more together person. A woman.
I started writing again and found some inner peace during pregnancy. I felt a calmness and sense of self love. I felt..... healthy.
Until my arse got too big for a comfortable twerk I still went out to dinners and pubs with friends when pregnant, I was determined to enjoy myself, perhaps I was testing to see if it was something I could continue after the birth?
I squeezed my way between tables with shouts of,
‘Watch out! lady with a baby!’
I liked being the sober one. I watched as red lip stick became smeared and blotchy neck rashes appeared. I sat back and observed as my acquaintances got hammered on shots.
I was a smug in those moments, an ‘I’m better than you’ lump that judged from afar. This new me, pregnant me, was put-off by my friends in this drunken state. I leaned away from warm dog breath and stepped aside from floppy bodies that wanted to lean upon me. I sipped a virgin Mojito with my pinkie finger sticking out wondering if I could make my excuses and be home in time for Britains got Talent.
So, I made a little promise to myself,
‘When this baby arrives, I wont drink anymore’
I liked being the smug one that drove home – it felt right.
But, as my waters popped so did a cork from bottle of champagne and there I was holding out my glass for a refill.
‘I’ll just have a couple’
A couple led to a bottle, a bottle led to second and then I found myself leaning too.
My habit crept up on me again. As soon as that lovely baby was tucked up in bed I was reaching into the fridge for a top-up.
I couldn’t help it - What else was there? A peppermint tea and a zumba class?
But, those two periods of abstinence lurked. They skulked in the background of my life and often came to bite my saggy bottom. When I was weak or hung over I thought about my time without alcohol. My memories of sober me were like happy postcards filed away in my brain, blissful halcyon days printed on tatty edged cards, snippets of a past when things were simple, better.
I wondered if I could be her. Be the pregnant me all the time, the woman that sits at social functions with a smug expression and a mocktail. Could I be skip into Sundays rather than wish them away?