My second son is turning 3 years of age in 3 sleeps and my first born son will be 5 in about 7 weeks. I am very lucky. Not every woman is so lucky. A good friend of mine has written a great blog – a personal and insightful blog about the trials and tribulations (in a very real sense) about trying to conceive through IVF, frustrated by a series of gynaecological problems and the added issue of being in her 40s. Please read TickingClock67@wordpress.com
Of all the luck I’ve had in my life (which isn’t the lottery winning kind, just the lack-of-trauma kind of luck) falling pregnant without trying, on both occasions, is one of the life altering ones. And one I admit to have taken a little for granted. In fact, when I did fall pregnant I focussed more on my good fortune to fall pregnant to this man I adored than to any of the other
mistakes drunken fumblings potential sperm donors it could have been with.
I fell pregnant 6 months after meeting my now husband. With my first pregnancy I initially couldn’t work out why my PMT was lasting for weeks without resulting in a period... d’uh! Shows how much my brain was taken up with ‘lurve’. So it was a good 6-8 weeks before I knew I was pregnant. (And upon doing the test, at home, alone, did a very good impersonation of Hugh Grant in the opening scenes of Four Weddings and a Funeral). We ‘planned’ the second pregnancy, if, by planned you mean, ‘is it time we tried for a second baby?’ ‘Yeah, sure, why not’. And within weeks – bada bing bada boom. We deliberated more about moving interstate than we had to about having children.
So fortunate, so fortunate.
And I know now from this friend and from others, that it isn’t so easy for all. That so many women who want children don’t get to have them at all, or don’t get to have them without a major cost financially but more importantly physically and emotionally.
And of course I feel so sad for them, for having even the merest inkling of what it is like to so keenly want something it isn’t entirely in your power to get. I always wanted to have children. I was the kind of girl who would ask to hold any baby within sight, who would so happily rock other people’s babies to sleep. And in my 20s, single, I started to hear a very feint tick of my biological clock too. I remember late one night sitting on the couch and imagining and even feeling the weight of a baby lying on my chest asleep. It was so real and so wanted it brought a tear to my eye and caught my breath. I can only imagine the pain of wanting a baby more acutely and desperately and passionately than that. To willingly subject your body and your relationship with your spouse to so much intrusion and pressure in the hope of conceiving, carrying and birthing your own children.
But now I’m a mother myself I wonder other things too. Now that I’ve had the children I always longed for I realise that they aren’t the be all and end all that I imagined. That while they are fulfilling they aren’t all consumingly fulfilling – that they fill a void but not all the voids. It is an open secret among brave women who admit the truth, that having children can sometimes feel a bit of a let down; that it doesn’t live up to their expectations. That motherhood doesn't live up to all its hype.
And I worry about the women on IVF who undergo so many medical interventions and sometimes so many cycles of hope and joy and disappointment before falling pregnant (if they are lucky). Will they experience a much more pronounced sense of shock when they have their long desired children and they find out it isn’t what they hoped or imagined?
Or in fact, are they (for the most part, we can’t generalise here as anywhere) more grateful for their children and less likely to dwell on the more dreary, mundane, depleting aspects of motherhood? Are they so grateful to have their babies that 3 am feeding time is an unutterable joy? Can they wait through a 2 year olds’ temper tantrum with good grace? It’s not that black and white, I know. Motherhood is nothing if not a grey area.
I do know that despite all the drudgery of motherhood I should be grateful for the safe arrival of my children into my life as if I did have to fight and struggle for their existence. That in the ‘shit sandwich’ that is motherhood that I focus more on the bread and less on the shit (although there is so much actual shit...). I have been so very blessed to have children of my own and I should (though won’t always I know) remember that before I whinge, raise my voice, or wish myself away to a deserted tropical island.
To those women who can’t have their children as easily as me, I wish you all the luck and grace the world can offer, and all the strength required to cope with having children or with not having them. Mothers, if you need a reason to be a little more grateful for those little creatures that gave you stretch marks, incontinence and who test your patience at every turn then click on Ticking Clock (in my Blog List). It is written with honesty, humour and hope - balanced out with reality. If you or any friends are facing IVF, they might find it helpful.
Motherhood isn't easy before or during, but it is a worthwhile pursuit for those who want it.