When I look back over what I have written so far, I see that I have been doing a lot of keyboard-chattering about my children and their exploits, and how they are driving us to delirium. And they have been. And they are (I won’t even go into the details here of how yesterday morning Willem plugged the sink with toilet paper and created a Niagra falls effect in our small bathroom).
But there’s so much more to this season than these temporary troubles. There’s so much more to every story.
And so far in this space I don’t think I’ve once mentioned how several times a day I stop what I’m doing and look at these children of ours.
And think —how did we get here? How did they get here? To us? To arrive in our lives, to turn them upside down and inside out and in all manner of weird and wonderful and unexpected ways, and it isn’t a dream.
And there’s another one on the way, sitting solid and wriggly-present in my stomach, due any day now. Number 3 in a family we’d given up on hoping for.
Okay, so now I’m worrying that I’m sounding a bit starry-eyed. A bit too over the top Pollyanna-esque. But as I said there’s more to every story.
Before I say more, I’m aware as I write this that this is a very sensitive and personal subject, a subject that cuts so close to the bone that at times it can be impossible to talk about it. I know that the ‘will I ever/will we ever…’ pain resides deep in the hearts of many couples, and also in those of singles. I know because we were there. For many years. Waiting. Hoping. Longing. Almost resigning to the belief that it could never be so. I hope as I write that I am sensitive to this.
This particular plot line began about 12 years ago, after Dr M and I tied the big, fat, beautiful to-death-do-us-part knot.
There’s no doubt we were ‘in love’. But we weren’t one of those couples who had answered all the questions and ticked all the boxes in preparation for our nuptials. On the subject of children we were vague. Mostly I based my thinking on what those a few years older than me in my circle had done. ‘We’ll be married about 3 years,’ I said, if anyone happened to question us on this topic. ‘And then we’ll start a family.’ I’m not even sure where the figure 3 came from, but somehow it seemed to carry a certain authority…and security. Way back then, 3 years seemed like a good, solid chunk of time. Enough time to be not so close, but not so far away as to be impossible. A safe time.
But only in hindsight do I now know how ill-founded my casual confidence and sense of control of it all was.
I have always struggled with, ahem, ‘women’s troubles.’ Pain started early, as a young teenager. My dear mum took me to several specialists who replied (I imagine smugly, but perhaps not): ‘She’s just a young girl, its normal for things of this nature to be unsettled at this stage, she’ll grow out of it.’
I didn’t grow out of it, but you might say I began to grow into it. To consider it normal. I didn’t even realise then the effect it was having on my life.
Early into our marriage, when Dr M too began to notice the level of pain and the way it floored me each month, we tried another specialist. A large, perhaps inappropriately jolly man. He did some tests and vaguely diagnosed me with polycistic ovaries. But with a jocular laugh he said I didn’t really fit the ‘profile’ for this illness, as if this cancelled out the evidence of the x-rays. Women’s troubles – I believe – even as recently as 10 years ago – weren’t taken very seriously. He did tell us one piece of interesting information though”: ‘If you want to have kids, I’d start sooner rather than later, just in case.’
I was 24 or so, Dr M was 22. Yes, I am his elder! We were both still studying (will we ever stop?) and decided we weren’t quite ready yet. We’d wait a couple more years and then try. Afterall, what would he know?
The physical pain continued, but once again we submerged it amidst our busy lives, an unpleasant part of our routine, but a part at least we were familiar with.