It’s a sign of growing old, I am sure, but I regularly think about my younger self and wish that I could go back and give myself a few timely words of advice. I also wish that my younger self would listen.
Growing up, I hated my body.
Forget that it was the only one I had, and that it was formed perfectly, and had all the components it was meant to. To me, it was ugly, and chubby, and a source of shame. Body issues plagued me throughout my teenage years, and I can remember staring at myself in the full length mirror one time in particular, hating my mother for having me because it was her fault that I had such horrific genes. Not quite sure how my father escaped all the blame for that one, but to me, it was Mum’s doing entirely.
In retrospect, and to be fair, I was healthy and muscular, and in fact gifted with a physique predisposed to being good at almost any sport I tried my hand at. I had nothing at all to feel bitter about – I should have been grateful. My older, wiser self is ashamed to admit these inner workings of my young mind. But we are who we are, and I was a dreadfully tough critic of myself, as most of us are during these formative years.
Standing in front of the mirror that day, I swore that I wouldn’t pass on my dreadful genes to a daughter, and wished I could have a little girl without her having to inherit my shape.
Never in a million years would I have thought that wish would ever come true.
My first daughter, Miss D, arrived in 2006. I had tried and tried to fall pregnant with a sibling for Master Z, but to no avail. I was literally going crazy from years riding the emotional roller coaster of assisted reproduction treatment due to my polycystic ovaries. Poor T had watched me go through it all, unable to do anything at all to help fix the situation. We were spending a weekend at the coast with her parents when she turned to me in a quiet moment and said, ‘Do you want me to go in for a bat?’.
I was shocked at first. Completely stunned. The look on her face told me she was a tad surprised too that she had come out with such an absurd question. Every part of me wanted to reassure her that it was fine, and that she didn’t have to, as I knew the option of her carrying a child had always been completely off-limits. There was not one ounce of her that felt an inclination to bear a child herself, so for her to offer, I knew that even she recognised that we were in a dire position. By this stage we had tried IVF several times, suffered a second miscarriage, and had reached saturation point financially and emotionally. We were desperate to complete our family.
After talking it over, we came up with quite a radical, but somewhat mutually agreeable solution. We would adopt the approach of ‘Russian Roulette’ – both of us would try artificial insemination again, and whoever fell pregnant first would bear our next child.
What happened if we both fell pregnant? Then we would raise our babies as twins and live happily ever after. That was the grand plan. Crazy huh? Perhaps, but it worked. It was bold, and risky, but it granted us our darling daughter, and to this day, I am eternally thankful we rolled those dice.
It just so happened that our cycles had ‘synced’ and, after going through our artificial insemination cycles, we ended up both taking a pregnancy test on the same evening.
I was nervous, so was T.
She was nervous in case she WAS pregnant, I was nervous in case I WASN’T.
We both looked at our tests at the same time.
I’m pretty sure you can guess what happens next. There were tears all round, but for such very different reasons. As we looked at the test results, my heart immediately sank as I heard a ‘Holy SH*T’ come from T.
There was an additional faint pink line on her test, indicating she was pregnant. Mine was completely stark white in the box – a glaring negative.
It was the most bizarre range of emotions I have ever felt. Tears poured down our faces – we were both feeling overjoyed, regretful, shocked, ecstatic, petrified and ashamed all at once. We took a while before we could speak. A huge part of me was thrilled we were expecting another child, and an equally huge part of me was devastated that it wasn’t me who was pregnant. T was exactly the same, for opposite reasons. Judge me all you like – I know how selfish that seems, and for years I judged myself too. But everyone is different, and I always wanted to bear children. T didn’t. It was my burning desire in life. It felt like it was some cruel joke played on us by Life just to make things difficult.
I now realise it was Life handing me exactly what I wanted – the most beautiful, caring, loving girl in the world to call my own.
One who can never blame me for any dissatisfaction she feels with her genes!
How she ended up here didn’t matter – it was nine months of our lives that we both made it through. The end result was the same. We held our darling Miss D safe in our arms on March 15, 2006, and felt like we were the luckiest parents in the world.
Just goes to show that wishes really can come true…
3 thoughts on “Russian Roulette”
Oh Gosh I just love your story! I love the redefinition of parenthood, motherhood. It sings to me completely. And I absolutely understand what you must have felt… that combined happy and sad, the guilt or shame of selfishness, but what a triumph to overcome all that and have that lovely little girl as a result! ❤
Thanks Benedicte. I think I have understated the difficulties we experienced to a degree. It really was a completely foreign and uncomfortable experience for us both, for very different reasons. Our girl is one in a million though, and truly we would both walk through fire for her. So in retrospect, the discomfort pales into insignificance…
Got to love retrospect