I’m very excited to be sharing this fantastic post which has been written especially for Stitches & Stretchmarks by my good friend and fellow thirty-something, Leanne.
When I was young(er) I had a timeline in my mind of how my life would pan out. Gap year before university to travel, married with children by 30, and along the way fit in a fulfilling, successful career. Of course I soon realised life doesn’t work to a schedule. Things don’t happen conveniently or when you want them to – life just happens.
I got married in May this year. I’m now 32 (just) and the question is already in the back of my mind about when to have a baby. The thing is I’m not really sure I want one. Not right now, anyway. But unfortunately it is a fact of life that women have a finite period of when they can have a child. It’s alright for men who remain fertile and able to father children right up into old age. The tick tock of the body clock is a very real concern for me.
Although we have so many more opportunities these days and I still feel like a 23-year-old it still remains that if you do want children and you are a woman it’s best to do this before you get to 40. It’s hard to fit everything in and the older I get the more I think about when would be the ‘best’ time. There’s so much I still want to do before taking on the biggest responsibility of all – although I think the A list acting career is probably a definite impossibility now.
Of course, there never is a ‘best’ time. I will never be successful enough or rich enough or travelled enough.
I’ve never imagined myself not being a mum. The thought of having a little version of me and my husband and watching this person grow, wondering who they are going to turn into is awesome – in the truest definition of the word.
I enjoy holding babies; well, they are a bit boring at first when they don’t do anything, but once they start developing personalities and interacting they are a lot of fun. I love the way they smell, their little outfits, their soft skin, their squidgy little arms and legs, the way they toddle up to you and put their arms up asking to be picked up. Babies and toddlers are cute. Mostly. But they are also hard work and tiring.
I had a great childhood and I look forward to playing with my kids, making things, dressing up, acting out stories, reading books, walking through parks, building snowmen or sandcastles and all the fun stuff that children (and secretly most adults) like to do.
I know that once I become a mum my life will be completely different. There will be no spur-of-the-moment jaunts to London after work. No spontaneous drinks or trips. Everything will need to be planned. From having friends with children I know that it won’t ever be possible to leave the house ten minutes after waking up. Certainly not only with a handbag either – babies need a lot of stuff.
Then there is my husband. He is six years older than me and doesn’t want to be an ‘old dad’. I need to take into account what he wants because having a baby is not something you do alone – or at least not something I would choose to do alone.
There’s a part of me as well that is terrified about the thought of giving birth. I’ve heard the horror stories. It seems that sharing tales of cutting, tearing and soiling yourself become normal once you’ve had a baby. I really don’t understand why.
And will I feel sexy after childbirth? Will my husband still find me attractive? At the moment my bits and boobs are for pleasure not birthing or feeding.
I’ve been with the man who is now my husband for eight years and in that time I’ve had friends start relationships and have children with their boyfriends/fiancées/husbands. This makes me feel a bit strange – does this mean we are not as in love as them? Should we have already done this? But rationally I know you can’t measure yourself against other people. Like I said earlier, life just happens.
We chose to spend 11 months travelling the globe and I wouldn’t change that for the world. When we do have children (more than one it would seem now) we will encourage them to explore the world and be adventurous and hope they think their parents are cool for having done what we have (although I’m not sure anyone thinks of their parents as cool).
But the question still remains of when? People talk of ‘just knowing’ when they want a baby. What if I never have that feeling? I know that you regret more the things you don’t do than the things you do, but having a baby isn’t something trivial. It’s not the same as regretting not buying that dress.
I wish I had a crystal ball so could see the future. Am I even able to have children? I asked my GP if there were any tests I could have to make sure I could have a child. His not so helpful advice was to come off the pill and see what happens. Bit of a risky tactic there, doc.
So I suppose we just continue enjoying life and start trying when the time feels right for us. In the meantime we can enjoy our beautiful goddaughter, Violet, and the other babies and young people we know, and hopefully one day put into practice our Lego-building and make-believe skills on our own mini creations.
Please leave Leanne lots of comments below, and also check out her travel blog here. If you would like to contribute to Stitches & Stretchmarks please get in touch.