I have always wanted to have children. All my life I have loved being around kids and babies. I have daydreamed about what it would be like to be pregnant – to have a baby, to watch them grow, to see what kind of adult they’ll become. My real Mum died when I was 4, and from a very young age I felt that I needed to somehow fill the void of ‘what was she like as my Mother?’ with my own offspring. When I met Robbie I made sure we were on the same page – there was never any question about children. I even told him that I didn’t think I could marry him if he had been against the idea of starting a family!! Thankfully he doesn’t have super strong feelings either way. It was just the way I wanted my life to go.
Until now. Until something changed.
I never really considered the possibility that the childless life was for me; I wanted to be the world’s best Mum! I wanted to be a stay at home Mum, I wanted to raise adorable, sassy, hilarious children who could talk to me about anything and know I wouldn’t judge them. Children who would have thick hair like Robbie and I, hopefully develop his athletic ability, my creativity and bypass inheriting my very quick temper and his poor eyesight. And a lot of decisions I have made in recent years have been with kids in mind. I learnt to drive last year because I wanted to be a competent driver by the time kids came along. We bought a 3 bed house in a nice area because – children. Part of the reason that I want to keep fit is because in a few years I want to have sprogs to run around after. I saw how my life would go, and it was filled with my kids, family old and young, my friends having babies…and I never saw it any other way. I never ever thought that there was another option for me, I am a born nurturer who is the first to want to hold the baby and pull silly faces at the nearest toddler. And I totally understood that it would be hard, exhausting, frustrating. Sleepless nights, body changes, taut relationships with Robbie, a messy house, school runs…but I knew the pay off would be worth it.
I have also always respected friends and colleagues of mine who have said how they wish to remain childfree. I have tried to never be that annoying ‘you’ll change your mind’ person, as I am forever frustrated when people ask me when I am going to start making Robbie fertilise my eggs. I know it’s not for everyone. But I just always thought that it was for me.
I have recently started to stay with my sister a few nights a month so that I can help look after my 21 month old nephew and hopefully be useful when her second baby arrives next year. I am not biased when I say this – but my nephew is the cleverest most adorable little man ever! He loves my sister so much, and I do feel so jealous when I see that unconditional love and adoration between them. As much as I love Robbie, my friends, my pet rats – it’s not the same. It’s not that all consuming stomach wrenching love for someone that you must think about, worry about, love and adore 25 hours a day. It’s not the heart swelling pride that your womb fruit is somewhere out there in the world being a delightful human. Would swapping ASOS orders for Mothercare parcels seem so hard if I knew that growing old might be less lonely?
But then… I like my independence. I like holidays. I like lie ins. And I am already at war with my body – what will having children do to me and my head space about my already stretch marked tummy and hips? And I know that mothers everywhere will read this and shout – we love those things and feel those things too! And you can have both at times! And I know that when you have children you usually don’t mind sacrificing mojitos for a pooey nappy and angry human…but what if I do? You can’t exactly shove them back up if three years in you decide that enough is enough, and there are already too many unwanted children in the world. There is no off button, no reset. Will the good always outweigh the bad? What if I am an awful mother with kids that never obey me and grown to hate me? What if I can’t get my highly strung emotions under control and I end up damaging them beyond repair? What if my child is born with an illness that changes everything for us as I struggle to come to terms with it and try to give them the best life ever? What if I cannot concieve and I drove Robbie away? What if I miscarry or something else awful happens?
A lot of it is the unknown. I know that I will have comments from people who sit on both sides of the fence, eager to tell me their experiences. But my experiences can never be the same as yours. You can tell me it’s the best thing, the worst thing, the most surprising thing ever, but you can never predict how I will feel and change and grow and shrink. All that anyone can do is tell me what being a parent or not being a parent means to them. And the unknown is what scares me, has driven me to tears lately. I feel like my life is one of those books where you have a different outcome, a parallel life if you choose one way or the other. Turn to page 45 if you kids, keep reading if you don’t. It’s like the film ‘Sliding Doors’ – which decision is the best one? Will they both be as fulfilling as the other? Will things be good between Robbie and I either way? What if things go tits of because of the introduction of a mini us – or we feel some void because it’ll just be us two forever? And will people ever stop asking us if and when we are going to start trying for a family? Are we not a family if we are just the two of us with a dozen rats?! Will I forever feel the steady tick of my biological clock and worry that I am betraying my body for letting another period come and go without even the slightest attempt at letting my egg be accosted by some sperm?
I’ve never been good at deciding which nail polish colour to choose when I go for a manicure, let alone deciding if my body should break itself in order to present me with my very own mandrake. I guess I will continue to mull it over.