I’ve wanted to write something around this subject for quite some time – years, in fact – but never had the strength to, for fear of being judged or for fear of hurting anyone involved in the story that I had to recount. The nearest I came to addressing this topic was back in 2012 when I was 28 and in the midst of a deep turmoil about the whole issue, so I certainly didn’t have the courage to reveal the full extent of what I was feeling for fear of hurting any parties involved.
Well, I am not out to hurt anyone at all and I desperately want to share this story because it’s shaped the course of my life over the past few years so I would really like to get this off my chest.
So, here’s my story…
I was never particularly maternal in my early 20s or even considered having children, because I couldn’t see past the end of my nose at that stage in life. Even when I first got together with my now ex-partner I didn’t consider it, we were too busy partying and enjoying life right as it was there and then to even discuss it. But it all changed one year after we got together, when my best friend at the time had fallen pregnant with her first child and she asked me to be at the birth, mainly because the father wasn’t particularly reliable at that time and she wasn’t sure whether he was going to be around for the birth. Luckily he was, and I, along with her sisters and my sister – quite a crowd of us! – were also present for the birth and it was the single most life-changing experience of my life to date, being there to witness a life being brought into the world. We supported my friend throughout the night at the home birth she had chosen to have, and as soon as her little baby boy arrived, we all burst into tears of joy and relief, and those tears didn’t stop when I got home a while later. I cried and cried, and at the time I wasn’t even sure why – I was so happy for her so there were tears of joy in there, but I was also struck with the realisation that I actually did want that for myself and I was nowhere near achieving it, it seemed, so there was sadness in those tears as well.
The seed was planted then (no pun intended, due to the nature of this piece…) that I wanted a family to be a part of my future. But my life just didn’t seem to be heading that way. Not long afterwards, I moved in with my boyfriend into his home, which was a happy progression for us, but our lifestyle wasn’t really one that looked like it would lead to children and that set-up didn’t look likely to change. It was 2010 then and I was 26, and that year, I really began to know what anxiety was. I’ve always had it in me to worry but it became out of control then, I worried constantly, I cried often, I began to talk to my partner more and more about the prospect of a family, and we argued more and more as a result, which made my feelings worse. I was hard on myself too, going through things in my head, over and over and over again, berating myself for not being able to just get on with things – kids weren’t the be all and end all were they, so why was I being such a misery? Why couldn’t I just let this go?
But the thing is, when a woman has a desire for a family, no amount of logical reasoning will stop her feeling that way…
But the thing is, when a woman has a desire for a family, no amount of logical reasoning will stop her feeling that way. And when you’re a woman having those feelings, being denied an answer by your partner as to whether you can even try for that kind of a future together is soul destroying. I loved my partner but we were in an absolute rut – I wanted an exact ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as to whether he wanted children, and as a result he felt he was being backed into a corner by me. We were at loggerheads. I felt like my head would forever be bruised from all the times I banged it against that metaphorical wall, never reaching any kind of resolution.
It didn’t help that, around this time, I was being asked by a few members of my family, more and more regularly, ‘so when are you going to have children?’ Even though I was only 26/27, I was being reminded that my biological clock was beginning to tick – the last thing I needed to be reminded of, based on how I was feeling at that time. Maybe they could see then that it wasn’t working with my partner, that we didn’t want the same things, or maybe they were just curious. Either way, that approach didn’t help and the arguments that arose between myself and some family members when I lashed out in upset just added to the utter s**t that I felt. I felt alone and miserable, and the possibility of a family of my own in the future still seemed to evade me.
I felt obsessed by it all, and also trapped by it all. I, of course, realise that people have difficulties in starting their own family for all kinds of reasons, both medical and emotional, so I knew my situation was nothing unique or earth-shattering but I couldn’t find any peace or resolution in it at all. In my naive life beforehand, I truly hoped, and honestly half expected, that should I ever decide in the future that I wanted kids that it would just happen. I feel almost embarrassed admitting that now. I wouldn’t entertain the idea of taking steps to begin a family without my partner’s consent because that was just not moral to me, but I couldn’t bear to walk away either. I felt confined by my need for a family, haunted by it, but unable to make a change. The whole thing was driving me crazy.
Although life had become less than rosy overall, due to the huge elephant in the room of my relationship, my boyfriend and I still had good times, and I didn’t want to walk away because I loved him very much; he was, and is, a good person and I will always think the world of him. There were times when we could forget that future that we couldn’t quite agree on and just enjoy living in the moment.
But then the s**t hit the fan again a couple of years later when another of my oldest friends announced she was pregnant with her first child. I was obviously happy for her but it brought to the fore all those feelings that had been bubbling away not too far under the surface for far too long. Now, not only did I feel miserable that my chance to try for a family still wasn’t happening, but I felt guilt over the fact that a little part of me was upset that another friend was pregnant. I didn’t want to have those kinds of feelings, I felt selfish, why couldn’t I just be completely happy for her?
Not long afterwards, after years of longing for a future that included children, I walked away from my relationship and it broke my heart, more than it already felt broken. My desire to have a family finally won out and as much as I loved my partner, I knew that I needed to pursue a future that gave me the hope of a family. If I didn’t even try, I knew I would regret it and hate myself for it, and I would end up resenting my partner beyond repair too, so I walked away to try and save my sanity and to try and rescue a friendship with the man that I had spent so long with and still loved like family.
It goes without saying that this wasn’t an easy choice to make, but in the end we just didn’t want the same things and after so long, I finally felt a little more able to accept that. As I mentioned earlier, this post wasn’t written with the aim of hurting anyone but I wanted to share my story and thoughts on motherhood to make my peace with the past and hopefully offer any helpful words to anyone who may be in a similar position to what I was in. When I was in my darkest moments, stuck because I couldn’t see a future with a family and mad with myself because I couldn’t just switch off my desire for a family (yes, I even hoped that it was possible to do that at times, go against mother nature), I trawled the net for advice, support, enlightenment. Conversations with loved ones had, more often than not, become fraught so I shut off from them, but I still wanted so desperately to hear or read someone else’s story, to know that it would all be okay in the end. As much as the solution may look easy from the outside, all you have to do is make a change to your situation if you can’t find a resolution, it can be damn hard to do when you don’t feel you have the strength to make that move. Hopefully, if there’s anyone in that place now, they may read this and find a little bit of hope in it.
Now, two years on, I am in a new relationship and a family looks on the cards for our future, although not immediately. It’s something we’ve discussed and both want. I feel calmer knowing that this is something we will try for. I feel 100% happy for friends when they announce their pregnancies, and also excited and hopeful that I too will have the opportunity to become a mother one day.
There is still some worry that, after wanting this so much for the past few years, it still may never happen for me when I do actually get the opportunity to try. There is still emotional pain from time to time, but if motherhood never happens for me, no matter how painful that may be, I hope that I will at least find some kind of solace in knowing that I made a change to try and make it happen and if it doesn’t, hopefully I won’t be so hard on myself.