A day like this

IMG_3960

What does an ordinary day look like? The sun rises, the sun sets and a there is a day’s worth of living in-between. And the living in-between is the thing. Sometimes, a day can feel like a lifetime, and others go by so quickly that you barely have chance to look around you, before it has all passed you by, and you are saying goodnight to the moon.

Since becoming a Mum, one of the many, unexpected, things that I have learnt is the way that a day will tumble into the next, and that there is never any time in-between to absorb and reflect on any of the amazing things that you see, feel and experience along the way. Your heart can swell with love one moment, then tears spring to your eyes the next. The smallest thing, like her first teeth showing in a cheeky smile, or a chubby hand clutching at a flower – and suddenly that deep unfathomable well of love, and pride and disbelief at the total amazing beauty if it all, comes rushing to the surface.

Yet, as my friend told me the other day, these deep feelings can arise out of a day that can be sometimes so unremarkable in its banality and ordinariness. Days where its all about the continuing cycle of breakfast and dish washing, clothes washing and drying, vacuuming, more tidying, more cooking, washing and ……

But it is within those routines and inevitabilities that the beauty comes through. in the knowledge that you are doing what you are doing for your family, that the sacred moments of heart stopping love sustain you like nothing else on earth, and that the routine, ordinariness, and rituals you create, are what gives your family shape and cohesion. The act of doing all that, however dreary, tiring and repetitive is ultimately that which creates security and safety.

You do what you do, for them, and you do what you do for them out of love.

Let it be….What it means to be the only parent to your child.

I made a conscious choice to have my children by myself, through IVF. Throughout my pregnancy I never felt alone or that something (or someone was missing). To me, it felt as it should be. My Mum and Dad were so kind and supportive, and I will always be so thankful to my Mum for helping me through those last stages of my pregnancy when I needed help to have a bath, get dressed and do just about anything really.

In those last few weeks I developed a horrible itchy rash, caused by an overload of female hormones from carrying twin girls. There wasn’t a second where my skin didn’t itch. My mum would help me into a bath – the only thing that seemed to temporarily relieve the pain – and sometimes at 3 in the morning, I would have to heave myself into the bath tub, sobbing my eyes out and feeling very miserable, whilst my mum patiently dabbed my skin with a soft cloth, telling me that everything would be OK. (Without a hint of weariness that she was repeating herself for the hundredth time that day.)

It was my Dad that came with me for the scan that would tell me that I was expecting  twins. I will write about that part of the story later on, but enough to say that it seemed unlikely I was going to hear any heartbeats. My Dad drove me the two hour drive to Cardiff for my scan, and showed such kindness in a situation that could have been very, very difficult. Because of their kindness, I never felt alone or by myself, and when I came out of the scan room, holding my scan photo and smiling at my Dad, it was something I will always treasure.

Thank you, Mum and Dad for such kindness and love. May that I be able to give just as much to my daughters, should they ever need me to.

Now my children are entering their toddler stage, they will begin developing language and understanding that will broaden their understanding of the world and, in turn, their identity and place within it. I do think about our family structure, and whilst I know we are happy, and the girls are growing beautifully – I know there will come a time soon when I will begin to talk to them about our lovely little family and how we came to be. It is not our differences to others I want to emphasise – but perhaps our uniqueness. And above all, I want them to be very proud of how this family was made. It is the stuff of wonder, really.

I was out with some Mum friends and their children on Monday, and we were all sitting on the grass having a picnic and watching our children play together. One of my friends began to read a book to the children ‘I love my Daddy’, and I saw her look at me as if to say; ‘Is this OK?’, which, of course, it was. I make know secret of how much I love mine, and how proud of him I am, so I would want every child who had a father to feel the same.

Its just that my girls do not have a father, and I did think, and always have done, will they miss not having a Daddy? Will they mind too much when everyone else is talking about theirs?

I think it is times when I’m tired, when there isn’t anyone to breathe in the wonder of it all with me, that I think about what it means to parent by yourself. It can be tempting to get a bit serious, and worry a little too much, without that other person by your side to experience it with, and to maybe laugh with when you’re tired and things haven’t gone as smoothly as you hoped. Someone to bring you a cup of tea and place a  safe arm around your shoulder.

But that really is about me, what I want for me, not neccesarily what my children want or need. And then, I remind myself… Let it be….Let it be…. I am raising two daughters who smother me in kisses, who smile and giggle and show all the signs of being inquisitive, loving, passionate girls. Everything is as it should be. I’m doing OK. x

 

 

Fertility, IVF and becoming a Mum

 

Where to begin.

I really want to write and talk about my experience of fertility, making babies and the experience of having IVF treatment. After all, it seems to me I could not write about being a Mum, without writing about how I became one.

It isn’t because I have become a parent that I can write about my experiences, it is because enough time has passed by since receiving fertility treatment that I am able to reflect, remember, and describe what it was like, emotionally and physically.

In many ways, as blunt as it sounds, I had to put my metaphorical head down and get on with the process of IVF. I always keep a journal, particularly during periods of my life when I need to make sense of my feelings and thoughts. Yet during all that time, my diary lay unwritten and the pages empty of anything at all. I think, you see, that to write about what I was experiencing, would have meant that I would have to reflect on what I was experiencing, and I just don’t think I could have done the two things simultaneously. If I had allowed my feelings to be too engaged, I don’t think I could have managed it at all.

My decision to begin treatment was because of my age and I because I hadn’t met anyone with whom I could start a family with. I spent the majority of my thirties (not my happiest decade), in a state of tremendous fear, when all I could think about was my desperate desire to become a Mother, alongside trying to find someone to fall in love with, and for that same person to fall in love with me. Only then could I get on and do the one thing I always wanted to do above anything else.

Life and mother nature had other plans for me. I did fall in love, a couple of times and a couple of times, someone fell in love with me. But the trouble was they were never the same person. At the time it seemed, as it does for anyone trying to find someone to love, or if you are trying to make a baby, that everyone around me was falling in love and making babies. And whilst that was happening I became an Aunty, a God Mother, the owner of a dog.

The churning ball of emotions inside me kept rolling around, desperation that my time was running out and that I only had (counting the numbers on my fingers) so many years in which to conceive, before it was too late and both time and my fragile eggs ran out completely. I think I must have emanated panic, fear and exasperation. For any man that came close enough, the look in my eyes would have said it all. It was no surprise I didn’t find anyone. I must have come across as absolutely terrifying.

What I never expected to feel was the intense grief when I contemplated the reality of my life without being a Mum. It was an overwhelming sense of sadness, and I lost count of the times I would sob uncontrollably with what to me felt like a real and tangible sense of loss. I have heard other women talking about this too, and it seemed so unfair that biologically my opportunity for becoming a mother had to all intents and purposes a limited shelf life.

There has been much said, written and discussed about fertility, and the reality of conceiving when we are in our thirties and forties. For women who want to forge a career, and who postpone motherhood in order to be able to do so, for women like me who are just unlucky enough to not meet the right person, for women who cannot conceive for a variety of reasons – fertility is something that is right there at the forefront of our minds. Making babies is just something you imagine will happen. It is only when you start to try that you experience just how difficult that can be.

There is IVF, of course, but it isn’t an option for some people (it is expensive and not always available on the NHS). And if you do decide to try IVF, it is a process which is complicated, intrusive and very emotional. It has no guarantees. But there is hope and as you begin to find out more, please remember that for every sad story of IVF you hear and how it didn’t work, it is also wonderful when parents come up to you and say ‘Our daughter, our son were born through IVF’. With those stories comes hope. You go forward in hope and you try to remain grounded. For anyone thinking about beginning with IVF, it is that mantra I offer to you.

Go forward in hope and remain grounded.

 

Thank you for reading this piece. I will be writing the next part of my IVF story to follow on from here. I hope to see you then. x