Saturday, April 09, 2011

The Baby Thing

Hello again readers. I know my posts have been few and far between for quite a while now. A lot of positive things have happened during that time. Mr Man is now back at work a couple of days a week, and he is driving again! His recovery is going really well, and things are really looking great for him and for us. We're even going on holiday this year!

But today I want to talk about the baby thing. A very long time ago a reader asked me how I felt about children and whether I ever wanted any, because for her it was a deciding factor in separating from her husband. Yes, I have wanted children, and this has been a painful issue for me, and not one I was ready to talk about at the time. So why now?

Tomorrow we shall be dining with a couple of friends who are expecting their second baby. (Yes, we have a social life now too!) I'm dreading it, and yet only yesterday I was telling friends how glad I am that I don't have children when I hear the struggles that other parents have. That statement is true; I only have to have my nieces and nephews over to know that I couldn't cope with being a full time parent, but I still find it difficult to manage my feelings when friends have babies. I tend to go the other way completely. In an unconscious attempt to manage my broodiness I avoid the subject altogether. I avoid pregnant friends, I avoid baby sections in shops, and I definitely avoid babies. Yes, I'm sure they're beautiful, but I don't really want to look to decide for myself, and I certainly don't want to hold them.

Mum's get a bit sensitive when people don't love their babies though don't they? And whilst it's acceptable for a man to completely ignore the fact that a woman is pregnant and not even mention it in conversation, for a woman it is not. And for a friend to do that?...

I've already done it, and I feel awful. One of my closest friends has had a baby recently and I hardly saw her throughout her pregnancy and I still haven't been round to offer my congratulations yet and to hold the baby. Being one of my closest friends, I can only hope that she knows and understands why, without me having to say a word.

Anyway, I haven't really explained why we don't have any children have I? Considering we chose our children's names before we even got married, I suppose it must seem a bit strange to some.

We had decided that we would enjoy five years together before we started a family. I always had health problems anyway, so it was always questionable as to whether I could cope with a young one. I got broody before the five years were up when I became the last one in my family to not have any children, but I agreed to wait. On our 5th wedding anniversary Mr Man was a patient in the psychiatric hospital. It had been just 3 weeks since his attempted suicide on the ward (which I have not written about in detail yet) and it was time for me to have my contraceptive injection, which I had every 12 weeks. I cried at the appointment, but obviously it wasn't the right time to start a family, and at that point, I didn't know if there ever would be a right time.

Later on down the line I became very broody again. In the past I had always said to Mr Man to just let me have my cry and I would get over it, but this time was different. It was the only thing I thought about. I spent sleepless nights crying. I would lie in the bath for hours until the water had gone cold, just lost in my thoughts and day dreams of having a child. Despite his illness, Mr Man agreed for us to try for a baby. But it just didn't happen.

Some doctors were helpful and supportive, and some doctors were not. One doctor suggested that if I wanted a family I should leave my husband - without even knowing which one of us was possibly infertile. Another doctor suggested a sperm donor, simply because of the risk of passing on Schizophrenia to our child. I wasn't happy with either of these suggestions, so with the support of our GP we started having investigations into why we were not conceiving.

There was quite a wait for those kinds of appointments, so in the meantime we just kept trying. To be honest, it got to the point where I just couldn't cope with the disappointment every month. Every month was the same. I felt like if I just crossed my legs to stop my period from starting that it would mean I had to be pregnant. Some months I was late, and I would convince myself that this was it. I would wait as long as I could possibly bear before buying a pregnancy testing kit - which was never very long at all - only to find that my period had started by the time I did the test. Every month it was the same crushing disappointment.

One month was different. I was late, but I was determined not to get my hopes up. Mr Man on the other hand needed to know one way or the other. I took the test, and the result was positive. I wrote about it at the time in my other blog:

Mr Man, on the other hand, was impatient for an answer. Saturday night I took a test, but the faint blue line which threw me into panic wasn’t even visible to Mr Man with his glasses in another room and with poor night lighting. He was satisfied enough to get a good nights sleep.

I, on the other hand, was awake for a good deal longer, worrying about how he would react once he realised the truth.

I had to confess my concerns to him the following day, and after the initial shock and panic had worn off he seemed fine. The line was very faint though, and I needed to be sure. I took another test this morning… actually I’ve taken five in all over this weekend, and the only test to give a positive result was the first one I took, which was what started all this confusion in the first place.

I can't remember why I was in a panic, considering it was what I had wanted for so long. Mr Man was never very keen though, and only ever agreed to it for my happiness. By the end of this little episode I was an emotional wreck. My period started, and then it stopped again. I didn't know what to think. I was clinging on to every bit of hope there was. Finally my period started properly and I knew it was over. As disappointed as I was, I was also relieved. I couldn't cope with the emotional roller coaster that trying for a baby caused. As strange as it sounds, I actually found it easier to come to terms with the thought of never having a baby than the continual disappointment every month from not falling pregnant. In a way, I gained strength from making the decision to remain childless, instead of the choice being taken from me every month. Besides, Mr Man and I have both suffered relapses since then, and I know we wouldn't cope with the responsibility of raising a child. So I found hobbies.

Hobbies? That sounds like such a shallow replacement. But I also enjoy the company of my nieces and nephews as often as I can, and I tell them that I wouldn't be able to love them as much as I do if I had children of my own. I do love my nieces and nephews, and seeing them doesn't cause me pain, only joy. But babies... there's just something about babies.

Coping with being childless has meant that my brain has switched off all maternal instincts. I'm not interested in pretty baby clothes, and I find I have to remind myself to even look at the baby and say something nice when I bump into someone I know in town pushing a pram. My brain is obviously trying to protect me, and it does a very good job of it; I hardly ever think about babies these days. But then there are those times when I just can't avoid it, and it's painful. Life would be so much easier if everyone I knew just stopped having babies.

Related post: Under Pressure