I've got the painters in. Literally. For both meanings of the word. I won't bore you with the miniutiae of my pre-menopausal innards other than to say that, at my age - thirty-eighteen, since you were wondering - changes are seemingly occurring. I can't wait for it all to stop altogether. The ability to reproduce seemed to bypass me entirely and babies failed to appear despite bucket loads of money being thrown at my uterus so now I'd just rather it stopped entirely.
I have a weird relationship with children - no, not like that. When I was little and growing up and, indeed, all through my first marriage, I never, never, ever wanted children. Ever. I was more than happy to be, what the Americans term, 'childfree', a term that implies there's a choice involved. My first husband ('the Artist') was of a similar mind. We were busy creating art and making music, and there was no room for anyone else and it was good.
Then I met The Lovely Husband. And all my friends started spawning, and I contracted 'baby-rabies'. I wanted to join the club (literally). I wanted to know what our children would look like. Unlike the Artist, I knew that TLH would make a fantastic father. I wanted his babies desperately. And they failed to arrive, month after month after month after month. From 1996 to 2001, doctors were consulted, surgery was undertaken, money spent - a great deal of money. I did manage to get pregnant twice but the first was ectopic which had to be removed in an emergency operation, and the second was miscarried at 6 weeks. All I ended up with were scars on my belly, a smaller bank balance and a massive sense of loss.
We decided to stop treatment as the emotional toll was getting too great, and I'm sensible enough to realise there's no point throwing good money after bad. I had, I think it was, 3 embryos still in the freezer after my last round of IVF and I just couldn't face trying one last time with them so I decided to donate them to research, then I knew it would be over. I could have left them where they were for a few more years until I'd decided to have another go but I'd had enough by then. The weird thing is that it was never entirely discovered why I couldn't keep a pregnancy, there was nothing particularly obvious. We found out I do have fairly mild polycystic ovarian syndrome but that was the only thing.
I had friends who didn't understand. One of my closest friends who, ironically, had much greater gynae problems than me but still had children easily, told me that she thought I'd given up too quickly. Funny - I don't remember how much money it had cost her to get pregnant or how many painful injections she'd had to give herself or vaginal ultrasounds she'd had to undergo, or how many of her parents were dropping hints about how lovely it was to have a 'big' family (actually I do, it was NONE AT ALL). And adoption was never going to be an option for us - we'd considered it and decided against it.
Yes, it still bothers me. But the loss of your future family is not exactly something you just 'get over'. Most of the time I'm absolutely fine and, frankly - seeing the problems my friends are now having with their teenage children - thanking my lucky stars that we didn't manage to have kids. But I can't help wondering what it would have been like, to have a house bustling with activity, with your kids' friends coming and going, the potential for making new friends for myself at the school gates, all that sort of thing. I've never had that. So I've filled in my time with doing lots of other stuff, things I wouldn't have been able to do if there had been ankle-biters around. I went to university and got a BSc and an MA. I started teaching. I took up horse-riding (for a while). I taught myself to make jewellery and started a business. I took on an allotment. I spent time with my camera. I paint (occasionally). I taught myself to crochet. And now I'm playing in a band again, at nearly 50 years old.
I have another friend who, I suspected, was envious of all the things I did until I explained to her a couple of weeks ago that I did these things to fill the void that my children should have filled. She was surprised that I still felt like that, but, then, she's had her kids in her life for the last 16 years and can't imagine life without them.
So I think I probably now class myself (if I have to class myself as anything at all) as 'childless' rather than 'childfree'. Because I've had no choice.
And now I'm approaching the 'crone' phase of my life and, if I'm not going to be a mother, then it can't come too soon, to be honest.
Blimey, that was unexpected. I was going to mention the house being painted but I shot off at a tangent there, huh? Still, this is my blog and I'll say what I want - it's still cheaper than therapy.
So, the house is being painted! Yay! We've been here for 16 years now and, apart from having new double glazing put in several years ago, and TLH redoing the bridge recently, we've not done a damn thing to the outside. Yes, we're slackers. But our neighbours had theirs done last summer so I got them to give me a quote to do ours, just like a proper grownup. And they've been here all week and doing a fab job, and they're lovely boys too. They're the politest painters/decorators I've ever met - and The Artist's 'proper' job was a painter/decorator so I've met (and worked with) a great deal of them - effusively grateful for a cup of tea, they don't swear (which is extraordinary), they don't have a radio on and because there's no radio, there's also no out-of-key singing at the top of their voice! I know! Amazing!
So I'll give them a plug - if you're anywhere near Godalming in Surrey and you need the outside of your house decorating or maintaining, then you will definitely do a lot worse than get a quote from Adam at www.a-w-cleaning.co.uk.
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