There’s been a lot of talk about motherhood lately. It started with a blogpost by Jen Martin from jenmariemartin.wordpress.com, following to an excellent article in The Telegraph (for links see below).
There’s been a lot of talk about motherhood in my life altogether, for let’s say the past twenty years or so. Now my friends as well as I passed the responsible age to get pregnant, discussions are dying down.
For some reason barely anyone has ever commented on me not taking the big step. Conversations on the subject were merely general. So you never reproduced? Fair enough, it’s your life.
Things is, not becoming a mother was not a choice I made. It’s something that happened to me, that’s how I consider it.
Back in the days when I was a very young girl, eight to be precise, I had it all figured out. When grown up, I was going to be just like my mother. I remember it clearly: for a drawing assignment in school we had to sketch our future selves. My picture was identical to my mums. And at that age, I assumed my life was going to be similar to hers as well. However, that assumption changed pretty fast, let’s say within a little over five years when puberty kicked in.
My first proper boyfriend is the one I was together with the longest. It started when I was nineteen and it lasted for about seven years. He and I were very lovey dovey, initially. We longed for all the grown up things: our own home, car, cat and family. We spoke about it a lot, but we only had the first thing. Our love faded so we never made it to the car, cat and family.
After breaking up with him, it took the longest time until I found myself in the appropriate relationship to even think about having children with a man. I did think about motherhood though, especially from thirty onwards. It was around that time I met a lovely guy, divorced and father of a beautiful little girl. He immediately made it quite clear he wanted to experience parenthood once more. It made my heart beat faster for him, but not for long. If I remember well, the whole relationship lasted as long as pregnancy, which never happened.
It must have been around the same time that I started pondering about the possibility of remaining childless. Somewhere in my early thirties I encountered a woman who had skipped the stage of finding a proper relationship before taking the big leap by using a sperm donor to get herself pregnant. I considered that option for about thirty seconds: not for me. Parenthood was going to be a shared experience… or not at all, that’s what I decided.
I like to see myself as a rational person. Having children, also means having to put your own life on hold for quite a long time. It wasn’t difficult for me to see a positive note here.
There was one more ‘opportunity’: another divorcee with children from a previous relationship. Because I saw forty glinting at the horizon I asked him straight away. If I can, I would like to be a mother. Would you be the father of my children? The answer was as direct as the question: no. He explained to me that in his view, in spite of loving them dearly, his kids were the cause of his marriage to go sour. His ex had changed after she had become a mother, and not for the better.
I thought about it for a while and decided that a good relationship was more important than the fulfilment of my wish to have children. So I told him it was fine with me: but he would have to bear responsibility for birth control. And with him being a man, that never happened. We were together for three years, used a condom just once and I didn’t get pregnant. To me, that was a clear sign. And in hindsight: a blessing. Having a child together also means being stuck to that person for a big chunk of your life!
Still, I hadn’t fully accepted my fate. That happened at forty. My health issues caused for me to realize that I wasn’t in the right condition to raise a child: I had enough on my plate by getting my own life back together again. On top of that, I was depending on medication that didn’t allow me to get pregnant. The final ‘blow ‘came not long after that, though it didn’t hurt much.
For a while, I had been suffering from hefty periods. My gynaecologist suggested an early perimenopause, which I dismissed: my mother had had hers about ten years later on in life. To be on the sure side, she conducted a blood test which turned out positive. For a day or so I was horribly upset. Firstly because I felt my body was letting me down once more: the end of womanhood was in sight. It was like a heavy door left ajar slamming in my face, but to never open again.
Talking to my friends made me feel better. I deliberately sought out the ones that were a bit older than me and one of them managed to give me comfort. She told me she’d been through pretty much the same. In her thirties, she was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. In her early forties, like me, she became perimenopausal. Unlike me, she didn’t mind at all. In her view, this was a way of her body to protect her against a situation that wouldn’t be good for her. The strains of motherhood would have simply been too much.
The thought that my body was not betraying me, but protecting me made all the difference in the world. I love children. I can see why parents consider their offspring as little miracles. There was a time when I was convinced I was going to have some of my own. But life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. I will never be a mother.