I always knew I wanted to be a mother. I always pictured children in my future. Each year passed, life threw its curveballs and diversions, but it was always a certainty. Until it wasn’t.
It never occurred to me that becoming a mother wouldn’t be simple. I’d lived the entirety of my sexually active life purposefully preventing motherhood. Being sensible, playing it safe and taking precautions to avoid unwanted and untimely pregnancies. One tiny slip up and game over. The fear of a missed pill or split condom. Cautionary tales so often told, that no one thought to mention another one. That motherhood might not come so easy.
Until time started to run out. And I discovered that life had spun me a lie. That all it took wasn’t just a single lapse of routine, responsibility or judgement. That it wasn’t going to be as simple as just removing precaution and falling.
I am by no means saying that sensible family planning and pregnancy prevention should not be an important part of sex education. But someone, at some point, needs to mention infertility.
Because that realisation hits just as hard as an unplanned double blue line. And it’s just as life-altering.
Everything you thought your life would be changes, in an instant.
You are confronted with a life you’ve never before imagined. You ask yourself if you can live it. And even if the answer is no, you realise you may not have much choice. Your heart breaks for the family you may never have. For the mother you may never be.
The world becomes smaller, harsher, unfair. Everyone you see is pregnant. Everyone is complaining about motherhood. You start believing that if you wish it hard enough it might just happen. If you try more, want it more, be more, then you will be rewarded. But each month, when your own body fails you, it aches just a little bit deeper.
Had I not been so sure of my fertility. Had I not been warned so vehemently about the perils of unprotected sex. Had someone mentioned infertility. I might have started trying earlier. I might have discovered we needed assistance earlier. We would not be fighting a ticking clock, every year the odds dramatically falling.
Seventeen percent of couples need some form of assisted conception. We were one of the lucky ones. Our ICSI procedure worked first time, and I became a mother at 34 years old, after 4 years of trying. Now I’m nearly 36 years old, and we want another baby. A sibling for our little Bee. And so we prepare to begin again. The disappointment, the broken hopes, and the fear that your dream may never come true. The injections, the mood swings, the arguments and anxiety. IVF nearly broke us the first time round, it’s a gamble, an expensive gamble, but one were willing to take.
I thought that becoming a mother was simply about timing, about choice, about deciding when to stop preventing it.
It never occurred to me that it wasn’t that simple.