It’s amazing how much infertility changes you. It affects your sociability, your confidence, your happiness, nearly every aspect of your life. I’ve begun to think that perhaps we’re just not meant to be parents. Since my friends started having kids I’ve been truly appreciating things that childless people take for granted – the sleep-ins, dinners out at the drop of a hat – thinking one day soon it will be our turn and we won’t be able to do this any more. Well, it’s feeling more and more likely that “one day” will never come so I’ve started conditioning my brain that this could be a permanent thing, and have started looking for the things in life that become possible through being childless. I’m not giving up on the hunt for Bumble, more preparing myself with an alternative should Bumble never eventuate.
I’ve also begun to wonder if I could actually be a decent parent should we be lucky enough for Bumble to appear. I used to have great plans of what I would do if I had children but now they’ve all been swallowed up by this wave of sterility. I can’t remember any of them. It’s as though I’ve woken from a dream with only vague memories of what was, knowing that there was once something good there but now there is only haze. I’m hoping that, should Bumble ever make an appearance, all those good intentions will come flooding back. I think they will. I’ve noticed as I’ve started to reintroduce myself to the world of the living, that things I thought lost have really just been hidden. The more time I spend around kids, the more it ‘comes back to me’. I remember why I loved being a nanny, why I love kids, and why we were doing all this in the first place.
Perhaps we should be seeing kids more not less. Offer up the ‘aunt’ and ‘uncle’ duties of babysitting, and see our friends’ children more often (I’d like to do the same for my sister and her girls but she lives too far away). We babysat for some friends last weekend and it was fantastic! Admittedly the two boys were shattered from a pretty full-on and energetic day, but they were just so much fun to look after, play with, and pop into bed. Even the simple act of getting ready for bed left me feeling warm inside. The coaxing on of jarmies for a wee lad determined not to put them on, the brushing of teeth, the bedtime stories. There’s something so nice about even the routine things of parenting and the fact that, even though they’re not our own, we can bond with the kids almost as if they were. To be fair, we love our friends like family so their kids naturally feel like our own flesh and blood. Does that sound too creepy? Hopefully not. I’ve known many of my friends for more than 20 years (two thirds of my life) so they should feel like family right?! It’s scary to think about it but I’ve known the mum of the two we looked after since I was 10 years old – that’s nearly quarter of a century that we’ve been in each other’s lives.
To further my reintegration plan and help with the acceptance that this could be my life for good, we made the bold move to attend a combined first and third birthday party today. Where in previous years I would leave hollow and in tears, this time I was ready. As mentioned above, I’ve been preparing myself for the childless life. I’m tired of missing out on seeing my friends, and watching their children grow, of missing out on their lives. I’m not saying it was easy, and I stayed just less than an hour, but at least I made the effort. The hardest part is no longer the children, I’ve accepted that we may have missed the boat on that, it’s the fact that I can’t join in on conversations – how is an infertile supposed to join in on tips for toilet training, or teething, or mobility. Needless to say, there wasn’t much I could contribute, so I headed off. And I won’t lie, I did have a cry on the way home but it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as it’s been in the past, and the tears weren’t all for us and Bumble.
So here’s to other people’s children, accepting our lot, and rejoining life again, regardless of the fact that we may need to live vicariously through others.