Guest Writer For This Post: Laura O'Leary, 31, Mum to one fur baby but no human babies, yet! Laura is usually on technical 'back of house duties' on Woman and the Apron (as no.1 fan to sister in law to Alison) and is in her final year of Naturopathic Medicine studying Nutrition.
My mother is 5 ft 4. A livewire. She’s from a small town in North Kerry called Listowel. A small human, from a small town but but there’s nothing else remotely little about this woman.
I was always pretty accepting of the old saying that we ultimately become our parents. That made sense to me, nature versus nurture and all that. If we came from them and were cared for by them…..well then of course…..almost by osmosis….we MUST become a little like them, right? Recently though, the world tilted ever so slightly and I had one of those moments which made me reevaluate everything.
My husband Dave and I decided to have a baby. I now know how naive that sounds. We just decided to have one. Ok we’re ready now, let’s be having you baby. See we’ve gotten really good at planning and executing major life events at this stage. We pulled off a wedding abroad. We’ve moved houses 3 million times because rent in Dublin….don’t get me started. We’ve planned 30ths and great holidays. We recently bought a house, worked our 9-6 jobs during the days, repainted it at night with the help of our families and moved our whole life across in under 48 hrs. We have the whole ‘let’s do this’ thing down pat, complete with military level spreadsheets and colour coded calendars. So it seemed only obvious then to go about creating a new human in the same way. Planned, controlled, successful.
I got SO excited.
But that’s not how it works is it? Starting down the path of parenthood is actually really really hard.
Here’s how it’s gone so far:
It felt like the whole world, including the GP, didn’t have an ounce of interest for a ‘healthy woman in her early 30s’ in getting pregnant. That is until she’s been ‘trying’ for more than a year….then they’re interested….for all the wrong reasons. I felt really deflated leaving the doctor’s surgery that very first day. Holding a piece of paper with 400 mg of folate written on it and very little more in terms of direction, information or expectation setting.
As a woman, I have become a clock. My life has quickly descended into apps and sticks. I’ve been educating myself off the back of little blue cardboard boxes with cute babies on them because being honest, I was embarrassed I didn’t know all this stuff already. I was embarrassed to ask. Nobody really talks about what it’s like to try to and get pregnant on top of running your day to day, probably really busy, life.
As a man, Dave has become ‘on demand’. It’s immense pressure for guys. I mean, have you ever seen a sexy clock? The world paints this picture of the man being SO delighted he’s having all this sex but in reality, he’s just as overwhelmed as you are. Nothing kills passion quite as effectively as a deadline.
The internet has become LITERALLY ANOTHER LANGUAGE. I hadn’t a clue what TTC meant? It means trying to conceive. Or BBT? That one is basal body temperature. Or BFP? I actually can’t even remember that one. All these people, talking in these acronyms I had never heard of. Learning Spanish would be easier.
My diet turned into a game of minesweeper. What to eat. What not to eat. Can I have coffee? Can I have a glass of wine? Well, yes on week one, but what about week two ‘cause if I am pregnant...but what if I’m not? Should your life go on hold?
I’ve started to feel like a bit of a biological failure. I constantly wonder if there’s something really wrong…..or we’re just not compatible as a couple. I’ve never experienced stinging disappointment like I have with that first telling cramp on day 28 when your heart sinks knowing you’re back to the drawing board. More sticks, more apps, less coffee, calculating due dates another month out. It’s stressful. That bathroom becomes a lonely place.
I’m unsuccessfully at month 6. It feels like 2 years. I didn’t even realise I wanted a baby this badly. We have arrived at the ‘half way’ point to the big bad ‘year’ mark and I know that my overthinking is only making things worse.
Instead of a positive pregnancy test (also known in internet slang as BFP or Big Fat Positive) this month, I got those ominous cramps and an eye infection that put me in A&E for 7 hours. Needless to say, I had a lot of time to think. I started thinking about why I wanted to be a Mum. I started thinking about my own Mum. And I realised, I wanted to be a Mum so bad so I could be just like her. The woman who operates at a million miles an hour, runs her own business, organises other people’s charity quizzes, fixes the world’s problems, runs school PTA groups with her eyes closed and despite that has always made our family feel like the most important, loved and wanted people in the universe.
It hit me like a tonne of bricks. I was finding this whole baby thing so hard because I was unconsciously terrified of infertility. If I couldn’t have a baby, I couldn’t become a mother, I couldn’t be like my Mum. That old saying, you eventually become your mother, was actually never talking about her traits that once annoyed you as a 15 year old. It’s not talking about looks or fashion sense or choice of partner. It’s talking about being a parent. Becoming my mother would be the greatest privilege.
So here I am at the 6 month mark folks. Still no double blue line. Still no idea if my ovaries are working hard or hardly working. What I do have is a renewed sense of positivity. If it takes ten years to have a baby and get that chance to be just like my Mum, it will be worth every minute.
Wish me luck. [To give all you TTCers or just those who are thinking about babydom soon, a steer in the right direction, Alison and myself have done an Expert Series post interviewing our very knowledgeable fertility friends in the Waterstone Clinic. Have a read of their advice around trying to conceive a baby].