There comes a time in peoples lives where they have to figure out what they want for themselves in their lives. Do they want to be married to their work? Do they want to be a wolf-pack of one? Do they want to ever marry or do they want to stay available to meet new people? Do they want to have kids. This is a big one, it can impact your choice of mate, it can impact your expectations for your career, if you are a woman it definitely impacts your expected earning potential and how society views you which ever way you decide.
What if you don’t want kids? Will your mother ever speak to you again, or did you just kill her biggest dream? Is it because you aren’t the parent type? It could be that you have always been on a super modest income and only been able to just feed yourself, or perhaps you just love your sleep ins (I think I can guarantee it is never just that, even though they are divine). Maybe it’s because you are conscious of human over-population (thank you Bindi Irwin). Perhaps you didn’t find that special someone that you would even consider having kids with until later in life. Or it could be that you are already expressing those maternal or paternal instincts in a really satisfying way through nieces and nephews or those you mentor in your life (thank you Kim Cattrell). Whatever it is, thank you rest of the world but it’s none of your damned business.
What if you do want to have kids? You found that special someone and they want kids too and it works out perfectly. You try for a bub and like magic it just happens. You are pregnant together and 9 months later a healthy bub arrives! Goodbye sleep, hello a lifetime of responsibility, love, ups and downs and immeasurable joy.
What if you want kids and can’t have them? It could be that you haven’t met a partner worthy of sharing parenthood with, and those genes of yours aren’t getting any younger. Maybe you have that incredible complimentary other half and you guys are trying to get pregnant but it just hasn’t happened for you yet. There are doctors visits, blood tests, invasive exams, monthly periods that bring waves of shared grief, the feeling “less than”, the “what’s wrong with me?”, the struggle between joy and sadness when you hear other peoples happy news, the increasing bouts of stress and depression that you know don’t help. Friends offer suggestions like “try a baby-moon holiday” and “try not to focus so hard on making a baby and just enjoy each other”. My favourite practical tip is “make sure his stuff is up there every second day” this is awesome, sure to work if there are no medical complications but gees at my age that kind of regimen takes some serious effort. Honest moment- I have given each of these gems to friends myself, thankfully a chuckle and a “sure, it’s that easy” ensues.
There are definitely some important things to check if you want a baby and haven’t been successful. The first step is to head to the doctor and make sure you’re both able to contribute to baby making. Beyond that is self care stuff. Eat well, exercise, take your vitamins and don’t stop taking them. You have to be kind and gentle with each other. Cry when you have to and support one another. Talk with your friends about where you’re at. This is so important! We consider topics like fertility to be super taboo but what I’ve found is when we communicate with people a couple of things happen: we learn that we aren’t alone in our experience. So many people have difficulty getting pregnant, not only will you get some support but you may also get some tips from someone who has been where you are now, and you didn’t know it; You may be inspired to take action. It is so easy to play the blame game with yourself and persist without heading to speak with a medical professional. Getting some perspective on your situation can take out the blame and inspire some practical steps. Taking practical steps brings back hope and may very well take some pressure off your relationship.
Chatting about your troubles with the first gorgeous group of peeps, the ones that don’t want to have kids, can help provide a different form of perspective. The kind where you realise that you and your life are pretty darn amazing just as they are. So while you are on your journey of trying for a baby, you’re also enjoying your life. Right now you have freedoms that you just won’t have when you are responsible for a new little life, the freedom to drink red wine, eat soft cheeses, go on holiday on a whim, heck just get out of the house in under 5 minutes. These wonderful couples will want to know about your work, your hobbies, passions and interests. These friends can keep you grounded in the greatness of the rest of your life, out side of your present intense focus on fertile windows and two week waits.
The hardest thing that I have encountered is when those beautiful couples who have been successful in making a healthy bub feel guilty for their miracle. For me, these lovely people are a shining ray of hope and I want them to radiate their joy and let their good fortune rub off on me. Their gentle loving support is not lessened because they have been blessed with a bub. It is enhanced because they have walked this same path in big and small ways, and they have come out the other end with a tiny, precious, wriggly noise maker. I suspect that the guilt they often experience is actually empathy, the ability to reflect back on the difficult times in their own journey with the added ability to imagine not having their little one. I just wish that energy could express itself differently. Because even if their good fortune doesn’t rub off on me, I am going to love their little bundle of joy, and hug it and squish it and hand it back to mum and dad when it’s diaper needs changing. Then I’ll head home to my quiet house, my chilled out kitty cat and my loving husband and enjoy my sleep in 🙂
Families with babies and families without babies are sorry for each other. ~Ed Howe