An Anxious Tale

I guess I’ve always been an anxious person. I think at the time, growing up in the 80s & 90s, it wasn’t something that I was aware of, I just considered myself a bit of a worrier and hadn’t attached the word anxiety to it.

As I got older anxiety slowly gained more presence, but it was still something that I hadn’t acknowledged and just assumed it was a way of feeling scared.  It wasn’t a constant feeling of dread and I had a good time with good friends.  It was only in recent years I realised that growing up I wasn’t exposed to a lot of different experiences, or encouraged to talk about how I was feeling with my parents, siblings or friends.  Mental Health wasn’t really a thing back then, it was a case of shake it off and pull yourself together.

I found, when growing up, that I would feel worried when I had to do something new, talk to someone I didn’t know or be in an unfamiliar situation (the same is still true now, but I try to be realistic).  This is a normal feeling for people, but my friends just got on with it and didn’t say how they’re feeling.  I would worry about something, before, during and afterwards.  Worrying that I hadn’t done as well as I could have done. I could never pull off being a blagger as I never had the confidence to do so.

Slowly it started to impact on my life, but I would try to ignore how I felt.  In times of extreme worry I would take myself out of situations. Little did I realise that the damage I would be doing to myself in later life.  I would try to overcome my problems, buy self-help books and read them in private.  I didn’t want anyone to know what I was feeling.  Eventually I got good at suppressing how I felt.

I lived a long time like that.  It was only when I met my partner who over time encouraged me to talk about things, that I started to get things out in the open and if I wanted to get help, she’d encouraged me to do so.

I wouldn’t say that I have conquered my anxiety.  I think it’s a basic human need to have anxiety to stay alive, but acknowledging it and talking about it have helped me to take the steps towards being able to live alongside it, without it controlling me.

I still doubt and sometimes sabotage myself.  I think that it is such a deep-rooted way of thinking that it takes time to change. The main thing is to continue to work at it and try to get the right balance.

If anyone is reading, it’s ok to not be ok.

D.

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Social Drinker

I’ve always been one for the booze. My friends and family know this about me. It’s a running joke that I’m a lush.

Now that we’re on the never-seeming-to-arrive-at-the-station baby train, we are trying to do all the right things.  I take folic acid every day, D…doesn’t wear tight pants(?!)  and both of us are trying to reduce our alcohol consumption.

While that’s not a huge chore – I don’t mind being teetotal – but it raises questions when we’re around people we know.  They jump to conclusions.  Of course if I’m not drinking, it’s because I’m knocked up!  Would I ever be seen with a lemonade when there’s wine on offer?  Only if I were preggers!  Errr…

I suppose it’s a terrible indictment of my character that it’s just easier to have a shandy, than to explain why I’m having a cup of tea.  I’ll just have to be the reverse of this:

I try to be sensible now and covering up not drinking has become part of the secret charade of fertility.  In some ways it’s just an addition to my normal routine of hiding my wobbly tummy in case people mistake my decades-long love of chocolate for a baby bump.  This has been going on for YEARS.  When I was at University, a old man offered me his seat on the bus.  Naturally I took it.

R

Choosing To Have A Baby

Today is a really big day in Ireland.  In 1983 an amendment was made to the Constitution of the Republic of Ireland, which recognised the equal right to life of mothers and their unborn children (Wikipedia for info).  This meant that abortion became illegal, only changing in 2013 to allow abortion if the mother’s life was at risk (Wiki again).  Today a referendum is being held to repeal this amendment.

It is difficult to comprehend a world where a mother does not have a choice in whether she has her baby or not.  Currently in Ireland, if you are pregnant, whether it is consensual, by rape or incest, you have no choice in whether it is best for you and the baby to go through with the pregnancy.  Even if a fatal foetal abnormality is diagnosed during pregnancy.

Now, as established, we do not have children.  But, we have chosen to try for a family.  Other people in our position might think differently, stating the inequity of the situation; wanting a baby, but struggling to have them and those that find themselves pregnant having abortions.  However, we have always believed that babies should be born as a product of choice.  This choice works both ways, so today we stand with the women of Ireland in having a choice over their bodies and the choice whether to bring babies in to the world.  #Repealthe8th #VoteYes

yes

Mummy Friends

Over the years I’ve had many chats with friends that are soon-to-be-parents, where they have said that they hope our days-out and meet-ups won’t fall in to parental discussions about attainment, feeding and poo routines.  I have always said it didn’t matter, as long as they still included me in the conversation.  I have been around children before!  They’re funny and fascinating and I can hold my own in a conversation about them (punctuated of course with ‘not that I have any experience’).

 

In fact, I have had far more experience with children than most of my friends had had before they were parents (not that it’s a pre-requisite!), but then it’s easy to be a perfect parent when you don’t have children.  There something funny though about meeting a friend’s offspring when they’re just a few weeks old and being directed on how to change a nappy, when at that stage I could still testify that I’d changed more nappies than they had.  In the early days when new babies arrived, I was privileged to be the go-to babysitter.

 

As my friends’ children have grown up, I’ve grown apart from their parents, even those that have been my closest allies.  It becomes an assumption that as a childless adult, you ‘won’t be interested’ in birthday parties, picnics or even babysitting.  The most hurtful of these occasions was when I received a picture from a group of friends that had arranged to meet-up, telling me they missed me.  I wasn’t invited.

 

I understand that my friends might not want us to feel awkward in their child-filled environment and I try to keep that in mind.  Given that most of them have assumed we’re a care-free couple, rather than any focus on our lack of progeny, perhaps they want to spare us.  I know that my friends are good people (that’s why I’m friends with them!), so I find myself generous to their oversights, because I don’t have experience of their parenting world.  But I’d still like to be in their world, with or without my own children.
R.

We’ve got something to tell you

Both our parents have asked in one way or another whether we’ll have kids.  As with everyone else that has asked, we usually answer in a casual “maybe one day”, “perhaps when we’re both in the same place at the same time” type response.  Nothing that sets alarms bells going, or makes people feel uncomfortable.

 

Because telling people, even those that are really close to you, that you’re doing everything you can to procreate but having no success is not exactly an easy topic.  In fact there are very few people we’ve told and even then only one that knows some of the minutiae.  We have not told either set of parents.

 

People often assume that we’re having too much of a good time to think about having children.  The fact is that we are living our lives as they are, because waiting for something that might never happen is unbearably depressing.  The one friend that I spoke to said she thought we were just being casual about the prospect of children.  In some sense I’m glad that’s what she thought, because it means it is not something that defines me (yet), but it also sad, because it only increases the isolation.

 

It is a truth universally acknowledged by women of a certain age, that you will get asked if you have/want to have/are planning to have children.  Add to this that we’re in a secure, long-term relationship, we’re legally-bound and own property and people assume you’re just getting things in order for the inevitable.  In no way do I condone the interrogation of couples about their life choices, but it remains a fact that people don’t talk about (in)fertility.  Experiences only tend to be shared after a baby has come along, or a couple have decided to adopt, foster or not have children.

 

No-one should feel they have to share their experiences with all and sundry, but in not talking, it feels like we’re creating a bigger chasm for those around the edges.

 

(I recognise the irony in sharing our experiences in a blog…)
R.

Mother’s day…

I’ve never been one for Mother’s Day.  I like to think that I love my Mum everyday and say thanks to her when the time is right, rather than when shops/tv/social media tell me I should.  That’s why I bought my Mum a phrenology head one September – because I thought she’d find it interesting.  I don’t ‘do’ Mother’s Day in the same way I don’t ‘do’ Valentine’s Day, or anything else.  I get totally caught up in Christmas, but that’s another story.

Things are different when you’re hoping to be a mum though.  You’re surrounded by posts from new mums, experienced mums, generations of mums and mums and mums.  It’s lovely, but it can be quite isolating.

I know I shouldn’t feel like this, if I don’t celebrate my Mum on Mother’s Day, but it pulls in to focus what I’m feel I’m missing out on.  Maybe if a baby comes along, I’ll want to celebrate Mother’s Day, so that I can bathe in the ongoing glory of creating life.  I hope that I won’t, so that I’m not a hypocrite, but I suspect vanity will overcome – I am incredibly vain after all!

A friend of mine posted the picture below, which I thought was lovely and it has helped to remind me that everyone has their own thing going on.

Mothers

 

I don’t like the saccharine nature of Mother’s Day.  It’s as bad as the friends that wish you happy birthday only because Facebook reminded them.  But I wouldn’t begrudge someone sharing a promotion, feat of strength or creative accomplishment (I probably would, but in a different way and certainly if they didn’t bring me some of the delicious-looking cake they’ve baked!), so I won’t let myself be bitter because I don’t have the joy of over-sharing baby photos.  And if I do have that joy, I hope I’ll remember today.

R.

Well here we go!

In November 2016, we made the very grown up decision to ‘start trying’.  By that I mean we dispensed with protection to see what happened.

Previous to this monumental change in our relationship (less faffing around/more cleaning up in the bedroom), we had discussed the idea of having a family, but knew we wanted to be ‘ready’.  Not that we wanted to have all our finances in order, a roof over our heads and the pattern of a blanket picked out, but that we were in the right headspace to consider children in our world.

As it turns out, our finances are as good as they’ll probably get, we now have a roof (one with a mortgage rather than rented – urgh!) and although we love a good blanket, we know that the pattern will change.  The important bit is that we know there is space, physically and metaphorically, for kids.

We decided, long before this decision, that we would try for our own children, but if it didn’t work out, we would look at other options.  That’s still true, but for now, we’re going on this road, and we thought others might like to come along with us.

Obviously time has passed since we made the choice to have a family and various things have changed so far.  The further down the road we get and the more we learn, the more we recognise that it’s important to share our journey.  Because sometimes things aren’t quite what you’re expecting…

 

R & D

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