Farewell Dear Ovaries, You’ve Served Me Well

I went through this stage at the tail end of my forties where I had this recurring nightly dream that I was pregnant and something would always go wrong – not necessarily with the pregnancy, but either the old man would leave me, or the baby would turn out to be some animal or my worst enemy at the birth. pregnant-914689_1280

 

You know how fucked up dreams can be.

 

Anyway, recently I’ve been dreaming about different friends of mine falling pregnant, which is strange because they are typically the least likely in my circle of friends to ever consider having a baby in their fifties. Therefore, what I think these dreams symbolise is that I’m ready to leave the reproductive phase of my life, and they have something to do with the final breath of my dying ovaries as they enter palliative care.

 

Mentally, I’ve been good with the retirement of my ovaries for some time now. You get tired of remembering to stock up on sanitary products, of paying tax on sanitary products, bloody sheets, not being able to wear white and well… blood. In fact, if anything, I wish they’d just gone  a bit more honourably, elected euthanasia rather than this final peri-menopausal stand they’re having with my uterus now, a silent demand that I acknowledge their role in my life and grieve for their parting.

 

For the main part, my ovaries have served me well, and relatively painlessly from all accounts, and I have two beautiful children to show for their monthly production line, who have now fully transitioned from foetus to adult, (physically at least).

 

I do wonder if men are forced to think about the reproductive system as much as women. Because menstruation and gestation are fairly time-consuming activities and make living that bit more challenging than only having to consider condom size, batteries for the remote and the odd embarrassing public boner. I wonder how they’d cope with the responsibility and symptoms of periods over thirty-five to forty years of their lives, worrying about their unwanted appearance, the panic when they don’t appear at all, having to take full responsibility for contraception and pap tests and at the tail end of their cycle, dealing with the eccentricity of their death throes and final assault.

 

At times it can feel like a real pain in the vagina, but if you think about it, the female side of reproduction is really quite a privilege. I mean, how fucking awesome is it that we can make babies?

 

It’s Kurt’s nineteenth birthday tomorrow and I can still remember those initial wondrous hours I spent with him between his birth at 3.30am and the first light of dawn, lying in my hospital bed, gazing with a terrifying, undying love at this chubby-faced second miracle that I’d created, now protectively swaddled and encased in his glass cage at my side. This, in spite of an inhumanely quick delivery that can only have been directed by Satan, enough stitches to create a patchwork quilt and each time I got up to the loo, what felt like the loss of half the contents of blood in my entire body.

 

And if I didn’t have the foresight that I have now… you know… about the next eighteen years of trials and tribulations that would undoubtedly lie ahead of me, I’d do it all over again; to experience that moment of primal, intense love that happens within seconds of your child’s entry into the world, along with the realisation that something is bigger than you now, because you’d give up your own life for that little scrap of flesh in a heartbeat.

And The Oscar For Mother Of Worst Toddler/Toddler Of Worst Mother Goes to…

Those photos of poor Charlize Theron trying to deal with her son’s tantrum in the full glare of the media made me wince painfully the other day. baby-155178_1280

 

In a kind of sentimental way, really, because we’ve all been there, and they weren’t much fun when you’re a nobody from suburbia, let alone a Hollywood celebrity being stalked by the paparazzi.

 

So I’d like to dedicate this post to all those stoic young mums of imperfect toddlers, forced daily to do the dragging and pulling walk of shame dance to the car that toddlers force you to do when they don’t want to get in their car seat. Because all mums know that it’s traumatic enough to be on the receiving end of a full-blown tanty in your own private space, but a public one is triple points.

 

I’ve earned my stars in this department and so can speak from experience. In fact, I swear I wore the tee-shirt for birthing the most tantrumming toddler in NC, which I realise may be hard to believe from what I’ve divulged about my nerd… daughter in previous posts, but I have loads of friends that will vouch for me.

 

NC was a troubled child until around the age of ten, but the most trying period was in the four torturous years before she started school, when I was still green in the parenting department – AKA not having a fucking clue what I was doing. What made it worse was that the old man and I were one of the first in our peer group to fall pregnant, so we had nothing to compare NC to, just those Disney-like fantasies of raising the perfect baby I’d devoured through my pregnancy.

 

After the first post-natural childbirth-birth classes where everyone sat around and smugged on about what an amazing time they were having with their new baby, I remember one of my friends, who had obviously caught the look of contorted pain on my face whenever I looked NC, attempted to make me feel better after my precious bundle had screamed solo the whole way through baby massage. (I will always be grateful to you for that, Alice). She suggested that NC’s irritability might be because she was so bright – obviously trying to be kind – which the old man interpreted later that evening to mean that NC was obviously bored with the limited intelligence level of my postpartum company.

 

Whatever the reason behind my daughter’s disappointment with life and her new family – and truthfully there could have been any number of reasons such as not eating, hating the clown wallpaper I’d chosen for the nursery or the realisation that she had been unfortunate enough to get the fruitcake for a mother with not an ounce of maternal intuition – I’m certain that her anger was due to the debilitating tiredness bought on by her refusal to sleep at any point during the day, which meant that by witching hour our house would resemble Armageddon.

 

NC was a child who was fundamentally very unhappy in her own skin.

 

Anything and everything set her off. She screamed at the sight of men she didn’t know, hated being strapped into the pushchair, threw herself out of the car seat and screamed when I left her with the child minder. Once she even bit me when I came to pick her up to go back home.

 

Is it any wonder that wine time became quickly synonymous with witching time in our relationship?

 

And it’s why, these days, whenever I witness a child over-heat in the supermarket and some poor mother try to calm the situation down without giving in, I find it hard to know how to react towards her. What I really want her to know is that it’s okay, that most of us have been through what she’s suffering, to offer her my best ‘been there’, ‘feeling your pain’ kind of sympathetic smile, without coming across as some patronising, judgmental middle-aged smug. Perhaps it would be better to ignore her completely so that she doesn’t feel like there is some national conspiracy to make her feel like she’s the worst mother in the world.

 

Because that’s how I felt.

 

We feel your pain, Charlize, and if it wasn’t for Kurt I could tell you with my hand on my heart that it will get better.

 

 

Self-Doubt, Writing and Giving Birth To Book Babies

Self-Doubt, Writing And Giving Birth To Book BabiesI’m nearing the end of the ‘book’ I’ve been writing, for what seems like the whole of the last century. I don’t really like to call it ‘a book’, because that sounds arrogant, and couldn’t be further from the truth of how I feel about my latest creation. This ‘book ‘of mine is, in reality, just a very long Word document that I have painstakingly crafted over the past few years, primarily as a kind of therapy, and secondly to fulfil some innate, crazy desire to write one good story.

 

Of course, my close friends are aware that I’ve wasted a large chunk of my life on this particular piece of writing, and so have started plaguing me about when it’s due.

 

The thought of which terrifies me.

 

It was the same when I first started my blog. It took me four months before I invited my close friends to read it because I’m terrified of failure and rejection. And although most people wouldn’t consider completing a novel as a ‘failure’, publishable or not; I do. (Actually a lot of people probably would).

 

Some of us are much more sensitive to criticism than others. Self-doubt, which I believe stems from anxiety, can be a crippling trait, and it prevents many of us from ever reaching for the stars. While a positive word about my writing can have me soaring for aeronautical miles, a small piece of what is deemed to be constructive criticism, can have me locking all the doors, burying myself in a mental coffin and hammering down every last nail.

 

When you are an unpublished writer, self-doubt haunts every hour of your craft, because there is no tangible proof that you can actually write. There are good days, when your fingers tap-dance happily on the keyboard, flirting dangerously from the sheer joy of creativity, and powerful verbs jump out of your head straight onto the page; everything feels right, like there was a reason and it is all worthwhile and makes sense. And then there are the days when you read a page over and over again and still come back to the same conclusion – that what you have in front of you is a load of bollocks and your name is attached to it.

 

I’m not a glass half-full person who believes you can do anything if you put your mind to it. I was always crap at netball.

 

It’s not like I have any pressure on me to write the next literary masterpiece. On good days, I would describe my innocent piece of fiction as chick lit on ice; on bad days, it feels as though Mills and Boon would reject it after the first paragraph. Not that I’m a snob when it comes to writing – I swooned in the first book of Fifty Shades.

 

It does help these days that I don’t care AS much. Generally. And that I know that my true friends will stand behind me to pick up the pieces when I fall apart after the first ten rejection letters and I start drinking heavily…more heavily… and then they’ll subtly remind me about self-publishing.

 

I’m secretly aware that I’m postponing the end of this particular gestation because I’m scared of the outcome, not because it’s not cooked yet. I’ve used ‘editing’ as an excuse for far too long, while I try to make this baby perfect; but nothing in life is perfect and colour and imperfections make life more interesting in general.

 

Yet I know that personal and commercial success rarely stem from fear, but come from having the courage to carve your name on your convictions.

 

I’m proud of this literary baby, whether it is recognised commercially or just by my loved ones. This baby was planned, made with love, and it will always remain a legacy of mine; of my love of a good story and having the balls to put it out there.