Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Is there a right time to have a baby?

I think it all depends on the person. Some girls can’t wait to start their own family, have already got grandchildren by the time they are forty. Everyone has their little dream life plan, the rose covered cottage the 2.5 children, the perfect husband. I never wanted that, didn’t come from that background. My dream was to live in a round house with my best friend turning sheet music for her when she played the piano, writing and keeping rabbits, I was 8.
Happiness was always my number one wish, I wished for happiness whenever I got a wish – blowing out birthday candles, spotting the first night star, standing under a railway bridge whilst a train roared over above. Don’t get me wrong I wasn’t miserable, I was probably just a teenager. I guess coming from a background of bereavement, (my father died when I was three), I knew happiness was something to be treasured, nurtured and grasped at any opportunity. Even through this I was a happy child, protected from the adult world of news stories, worries, war, relationships and advertising! No one in my family was particularly predisposed towards having children over careers or careers over children for that matter, we just all basically got on with it, living that is. Our mother sent us all out into the world knowing we were loved and that she would always be there for us, a quiet guardian in the background. No interfering, no pushing, just a phone call away if we needed anything, there were no requests to spend christmases together or visit home for birthdays. Some might find this unusual, cold even but it worked well for us and we all became relatively successful in the paths and relationships we chose. I would call home on the anniversary of dad’s accident, and mum would inform me my two sisters had rung earlier, pass on their news, and say ‘you know what day it is today?’ and I’d reply ‘of course, why do you think we all rang!’. I never really saw my mum cry, my brother and sisters did, they are all older. I just remember her peeling a lot of onions when I was very young. We didn’t talk about my dad, couldn’t, he was sacred. Mum only put a picture of him up when I’d left home, I was in my twenties. She never remarried, never really courted anyone else. So you see there was an air of sadness around, that misty eyed, English boned, crisp winter morning sadness that seeps through old musty houses even when children are bashing through them on tricycles. When I was older I’d pester her for information about him, anything, who was this man? I’d pore over old black and white photos, a set of which, taken by his friend, showed me aged three sat on his knee in the garden. A ladybird on my finger, my dad with a floppy fringe and crooked grin wearing a thick hand knitted jumper. Ooooh give me a man in a chunky jumper. I admit I went through the father figure thing. I met an older gentleman who was rather keen on my poetry when I was in my twenties, oh please! If I’d been me now I’d have a few words to say to myself. Along I went to the Hampshire Hotel in Leicester Square for a cut glass tumbler of whiskey in front of an open fire. I should have realised the jib when he kept praising my poem, it really wasn’t very good. Then he wanted to kiss me goodnight in the rain and I ran off and got the tube back to North London soaked and choked and then had that horrible realisation I was chasing a father and a father shouldn’t want to kiss you like that. He wasn’t the only one, there were a couple before him but he was the one that made me realise. So you see it took me an awfully long time to grow up. Still searching for a father in my twenties, only really starting on relationships proper in my thirties, and I’d always said I’d wait until I was forty to have a baby if I ever did. By the time I got to 39 I was with someone, had been with them for thirteen years, we were in love, I thought he’d make a lovely father, he though I’d make a lovely mother, let’s do it. So we stopped using contraception in February and didn’t have unprotected sex until November and that was only cos I got my dates mixed up. I knew I was pregnant. I could taste it, feel it, breathe it, I’d been there before. The metallic taste, the sore boobs, the slightly off kilter with the rest of the world feeling. I thought about the crazy lifestyle we had. I went to work, I came home to a flat full of guests partying most nights. The night I determined to tell The GR my fears, a long lost friend had turned up unexpectedly and there was a surprise party going on. I sipped red wine and felt sick. The GR went into seasonal depression, Christmas with the Belle Mere, Bad brother and his ‘you must be an uncle to my’ child loomed. I went into denial and only bought a pregnancy test when I couldn’t face drinking the wonderful mulled wine on offer at Borough Market. It was positive. I honestly didn’t know how The GR would take it, he was back pedalling towards a mid life crisis as it was. I was prepared to go with whatever decision he made rather that think about what I really wanted to do. In fact I behaved terribly. I didn’t say anything. I kept it to myself, refusing after work drinks in the run up to Christmas and pleading illness. My best friend from school, who now lives in California came over to visit, we went for breakfast at Le Pain Quotidian. Eggy soldiers, I worried about eating runny eggs. ‘So what are your plans for next year?’ she asked, squinting at me over breakfast. I mumbled something about ‘life changes’ ‘You’re pregnant aren’t you?’ she blurted. Relieved at finally being able to share, I shared. ‘You have to tell him’, she quite rightly said. ‘ I will, I will’. I don’t know what I was scared of, him wanting it, him not wanting it, him being angry, my messing up the dates. The longer I left it, the harder it got, every time I went to tell him, it wasn’t right, he was in a bad place, the time wasn’t right. In the end there was no right time. We spent Christmas at the Belle Mere’s in Winchester with the Bad brother his ‘not’ girlfriend and the innocent spawn. We ate sprouts and I wore big jumpers, I mixed my own drinks and only pretended to put vodka in my orange, no one noticed, they were all too busy getting drunk and trying not to fall out with one another. We went back to London, it was the piffin bridge between Christmas and New Year, my friend rang from California to check how I was, ‘You have to tell him’. ‘Tell him!’ she shouted, loud enough that he might hear, into my ear.
I should have taken him somewhere nice to tell him, a park, for dinner, bought him a bottle of malt whisky, sat him down, jumped on his neck, I did none of these, I slipped in ‘I think I might be pregnant, I’m going to do a pregnancy test, oh – yes I am’, while he was prostrate with a hangover on the sofa. Not so good.
He was angry that our futures would never be the same again but adamant we should keep it. My life as a party animal faded into early nights and morning showers with expensive non-synthetic toiletries. I didn’t tell a soul for three months, not my family, not the people at work, no one seemed to notice. I bloomed, the sun came out, my skin cleared up, I wore flowing dresses and my hair got thicker with my waistline. At three months The GR’s father visited from CR and he told him. I’d been out with a close friend in Soho for dinner that night and had been watering down my wine and ordered a second pizza, I’d evaded the after meal request for one last drink and gone home to be confronted by congratulations. As the baby radio silence had now been broken I wanted to tell the friend I’d just been drinking with. I ran back to Soho and found her outside the pub to tell her. She was devastated, but acted pleased for me, I followed her up to the loos and heard her swearing from behind the cubicle door. Everyone had me down as a not going to have babies girl, which would have been the case had I reached 40 single. My family were shocked but pleased. My friend who had thankfully just had twins after a long spell of IVF dropped her phone. My friend in Spain also dropped her phone. I didn’t really tell anyone else, I waited to see people and stuck out the bump. Most of the people in our local area didn’t even know I was pregnant until they saw us walking around with Erbie after he was born. I waited until the right time for me. I’m not missing the party lifestyle, I’ve done it all. I’m fit enough to carry Erbie about and old enough not to care what one is supposed to do. I’m doing it by instinct, internet and what fits for us. Cross fingers everything so far has been okay. He is a very good baby. Now I just need to get my relationship back on track. We’re still in love, but it’s different the tactility from our relationship has become focused on the baby, last night we spooned for the first time since Erbie was born. Now he’s sleeping through the night and weaned I have more time to be grown-up again but it’s finding the energy to be bothered. Relationships are hard work but I hope we are both still willing to put that work in. I try not to take our good fortune for granted and I’ve started wishing for happiness again.


loveaudrey said...

This is a wonderful post that I can relate to on so many levels despite the fact I fell pregnant at 20.

Relationships are hard work at the best of times and children certinly make it harder. I have to remind myself to hug my boyfriend at the moment.


That's Not My Age said...

This is very moving - open and honest. I didn't meet Mr TNMA till I was 40 and now we're a bit older than that (er hem!) and passed it when it comes to childbirth. Which feels like such a shame - but I'm of that generation of women who (like yourself) got on with careers - and partying - in our thirties, and thought that kids would come along later. I try not to dwell on it too much, which may or may not be a good thing, but you just don't know when/ if, you're going to meet the right person - and I was fortunate enough to meet the very lovely Mr TNMA.

PS I have friends with young kids so even though I am childless, I fully understand your predicament

Marie said...

This is a wonderful post. Incredibly honest and full of interesting thoughts and emotions. Thank-you for sharing it.

There's a lot more I'd like to say somehow, but can't seem to find the words, but hopefully things will get back on track with the GR. I think that must be one of the hardest parts of having a baby, especially having been together for so long and used to a certain way of life. If J and I have babies we will have been together for probably 10 or so years before we do have them. Which is a long time to suddenly then have to share our life with someone else. But I guess it all works out somehow. Especially if you have got support from friends and family and bloggers :)

Chic Mama said...

What a moving piece, so honest and thought provoking.
It's normal for relationships to change, it's not easy. You should focus on all that time you did get together alone and all the exciting things you're going to share with your child together.
If I'm honest although I loved (and I thought husband did) having babies and children we were also always making plans for the things we;'d do when the children were grown up.
Take care. x

Chic Mama said...

There is an award for you at mine.

Looking Fab in your forties said...

I also found that one of the most wonderful posts!

fabhat said...

That is a very good thing to read right now. With only 2 months to go it is now feeling very real that this bumpy wriggly thing is going to become a real baby. I spent the day explaining how my business works to the person who will babysit it for me while I go off and have the sprog. It was a bit like having to show someone your knicker drawer, including the really horrible ones that you only wear when desperate. Anyway - I've sort of been hoping that I can have both a baby and a sort of normal life as well, so this post is inspiring, reassuring and perfectly timed (selfishly for me) so thank you.

redfox said...

Yes, a wonderful post! Like fabhat, I have bonus self-regarding reasons why I should enjoy it right at the moment -- but it's so lovely and honest that I certainly don't need any extra inducement.

everybodysaysdont said...

What a very thoughtful well written piece! WOW. I'm very moved by it indeed. I think you have to follow your instinsts with everything including your relationship with the GR, spooning is a very good way to start! xxxx

westendmum said...

Thank you all so much for you lovely comments.
WEM xx

Single Supplement said...

this is the writer I have missed. Selfish tears in the loo of a friend maybe lost.

Other nonsense

Quote of the day

‘They tuck you up your mum and dad...’
Anon - after Larkin

“Philately will get you everywhere”

“It’s not the despair, I can handle the despair. 
It’s the hope I can’t deal with”

“Each new friend represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”
Anais Nin

‘Come on Dover move your bloomin’ arse’.
Eliza Doolittle