Advanced warning here; this one could get a tad weepy and I think I might be about to gush. Sorry folks! I sincerely apologise for this, but, hold the phone… my baby is turning two. Wow!
In all fairness, I can’t say I’m incredibly surprised by this news! It’s most definitely been on the cards and, in some ways, I wouldn’t even say the last, almost, 731 days (there was a leap year!) have flown by at a ridiculously speedy rate but, well, here it is! He’s about to turn two and, despite the fact that I’m convinced he’ll always be my baby, he’s not so much any more. He’s my little boy!
And not just any little boy, I might add!
A little boy who I’m incredibly proud of. A little boy who fills me, and all those he meets, with utter joy, or at least I like to think it’s everyone he encounters! A little boy from whom I learn a huge amount, daily, and who has taught me more about myself in the last, nearly, 24 months than I’d ever have thought possible. A little boy who has brought, and continues to bring, so much happiness into this world for me. Well, until the “terrible twos” properly ramp up that is! Good job this is going to print before that all important milestone!
I like to believe that every baby is a miracle, however, the story of how Sam came to be is truly miraculous. Despite my drive, and desire, to have a child, after so many failed rounds of IVF, there did come a time when I had to start resigning myself to the fact that I might never be able to conceive and that there was a strong possibility my life was going to play out to be incredibly different from the one I had always envisaged. Determination can only take an infertile so far. It’s then up to science, fate, the will of the Gods – call it what you wish, to decide the eventual outcome.
In my case, I was one of the statistics for whom the odds were, eventually, in my favour.
During my pregnancy, and throughout Sam’s very early life, I’d conjured up a plan about the kind of mother I was going to be. I set my own, rather high, ideals and, as the months of raising my own little being continued, I placed a lot of pressure upon myself to live up to those ivory tower standards I’d created for myself. I think, it’s fair to say, that IVF mothers have a tendency to beat themselves up about raising their child. You see we’ve begged, bargained and beseeched for this opportunity. We’ve traded every belief and every ideal we possibly can. We’ve promised to never lose patience, or moan about being tired, if only we could have this, oh so longed for, child. We’ve vowed to do everything better than the best and so super perfectly. Hell, we’ve negotiated to shame even Mary Poppins if it means we can become parents. But, of course, the heartbroken deals made with your desperate self, the grief-stricken pleas to God, to fate and to any google found fertility deity out there, are not, and cannot, be realistic.
Like every other mother out there, I do get tired, I can lack patience and of course I make mistakes in my child rearing, but it’s taken me a rather long time to realise that this is actually okay. That I can’t do everything perfectly, after all, I’m just as human as my little human is! What ultimately matters is that, at the end of the day, I have a very happy, mostly (well he is now nearly two!) content, little boy. So what if we don’t do all the arts and crafts I envisaged creating with him? Who knew back in those early days that I’d end up with a child who hates anything to do with paint, gloop and loo rolls, well, I take loo rolls back because obviously he’s able to shout down them and use them for a tunnel. I have genuinely come to believe that it doesn’t matter though! I love being led by Sam and filling our days with experiences that bring both of us pleasure.
And so we do a lot of his favourite things!
We walk Miss P, we eat blackberries from the bushes, stroke the horses, splash in puddles, we gambol on the swings and whoosh down that slide come rain or shine. And we laugh. Together. We sing and read and cuddle and play. And if he refuses to eat anything green, declines my nutritionally balanced home cooked fodder and has eaten an ice cream every day thus far on his holiday? Well, he still eats incredibly well and is a healthy little fruit munching chap. Oh and the time I (dare I even utter these words out loud?) gave him an Annabel Karmel microwave meal, did he malnourish before my very eyes and end up as a heap of clothes, a la the wicked witch in the The Wizard of Oz? Of course he didn’t, he merely refused it with the same gusto he’d refuse my cottage pie.
Has motherhood been what I expected then, during my pregnancy and in those early days?
Not on your nelly
It’s been tougher, more challenging, more surprising, more trying and more wondrous than I could ever have imagined. I’ve learned that I don’t mind playing, that proverbial, second fiddle in my life but that it’s a privilege, and a joy, not to put myself first for the sake of my little man. I’ve learned that I can’t always instinctively know just what I need to do but that I can go away and research, ask my supportive fellow mama friends for their thoughts and listen to advice, knowing that none of us really know what to do but that we’re all just trying our best and doing an incredible job along the way. I’ve learned I’m definitely not 100% the mother I set out to become, but that I’m Samuel’s mother and I’m practically perfect, in every way, for that job; the hugest honour imaginable.
I’ve also decided that I’m not really sure how much of a say I actually have in the raising of my little being but that he’s come to me, as his own, ready-made, little package. I’m simply here to do the best, that I can, with the precious bundle I’ve been gifted and guide him along the way on his own journey of life.
And I’ve learned that he was definitely, absolutely, incredibly worth the wait. He takes my breath away, he hurts my heart with love. I still pinch myself to check it’s true, that he really is here. And he is. The agony we went through, on our journey to Sam, can sometimes still feel incredibly raw and in some ways I’m glad of that: It’s a reminder not to take my life for granted.
It’s actually world childless week this week and I can’t help but feel especially humbled by the fact that Sam’s birthday falls within this. I’m fully aware that my life could have taken an incredibly different turn and am so grateful for the opportunity I’ve been given, to conceive, carry and have a child. But this isn’t the case for everyone. The truth is that IVF doesn’t always work, no matter how many rounds a person can find the strength to undertake, also, IVF isn’t always the right path, for everyone, leaving involuntary childlessness in its wake. Dear friends, and strangers, united by the anguish that is infertility, I wish I could take away your pain. And I wish you luck. And peace. I therefore ask you, my readers, to, please, hold all those living with infertility in your thoughts. Infertility sucks, it hurts and is real.
As that old friend of mine, Eleanor Roosevelt, once said “With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts” and you’re in mine.
To find out more about world childless week please click here.