It takes a village to raise a child

This year, I’ve written quite prolifically about my fertility and health problems.  But as 2019 draws to a close, I’m thinking about the future – particularly as I’m careering towards 30 at (what seems like) an alarming rate.

Specifically, I’m thinking about family plans.  Whilst so many things are going well (family, friends, career and self-confidence), many things are not: physical health is being a bastard, arguments with the boyfriend occur daily.  I also have a constant sinking feeling in my tummy since turning 28 ten days ago (and it’s not because of all the ham, roast potatoes and red wine I’ve consumed over this Christmas period!).

I think the sinking feeling is because friends are falling pregnant.  And if I’m really honest, I think the crux of the issue is that I’m jealous.

In some ways, it seems like it’s begun very quickly, in other ways I’m surprised I’m not already an ‘aunty’ to many friends’ babies.

27 was always my Scary Age, but as I approached 27 years old, I didn’t feel as concerned as I expected I would.  In fact, when I turned 27, nothing catastrophic happened.  I’m not sure what disaster I expected would befall me, but I happily carried on the way I was going.  Helped, of course, by the fact I had found a lovely man, successfully changed careers and felt much happier in myself.

By many measures, 2019 has been a great year:  I transitioned from being a teacher – trying to get out of the all-consuming commitments that come with the job – to finding my feet in the publishing world and growing professionally from Editorial Assistant to Senior Editor.  And I moved in with a boyfriend.  Jesus.

But my bloody health.  More bouts of General has left me looking more and more like a ‘pin cushion’, as my dad says.  And being a good grown-up has meant I’ve been seeing GPs, checking my ovaries and getting the coil removed (as the copper coil wasn’t helping my PCOS), but there are times when I wonder if ignorance really is bliss.

One in three women aged 25-29 miss their cervical screening test, according to the NHS.  And that statistic really hits home as one of my sisters (I’m one of three) hasn’t been for a check-up in the past few years.

I’m not glorifying this, but I wonder if I’d be less worried about my fertility if I hadn’t ‘accepted my invitation’ and *just* dealt with kidney problems these past six years rather than kidney *and* ovary issues.  Would I still be feeling this way if I didn’t have the added pressure of needing to procreate sooner rather than later?  But they do say information is power.  It’s a tricky one.

Nearly all women* are aware of the time-bomb inside them.  We know it’s harder to get pregnant from the age of 30 onwards and so much harder from 35.  And coupled with fertility problems, I’m beginning to worry.

The man I’m with is wonderful, and we love each other, but can we ignore our daily arguments?  So much can change; who knows where our relationship will go.

They say it takes a village to raise a child.  Being a traditionalist, I always thought the best way to raise a child is by two people in a loving relationship.

But what if we can’t find someone we’d want to raise a child with?

If we can’t trust someone to load the dishwasher correctly, how can we trust someone to raise another human being?  Or: if we can’t relax enough to cope with the way someone else loads the dishwasher, then how can we compromise when it comes to the way we bring another human into the world?

I’m pleased with the way my parents raised me and my sisters and we all have similar values and an array of life experience, so does this mean I can raise children with them?  Do I need a loving relationship in the traditional sense, or can my loving relationship be that between my parents and me?  Can my ‘village’ be my mum, dad and my friends?  I truly think we’d do a better job than I would with the wrong guy…

Amazingly, the majority of people I’ve spoken to about my plan to raise kids with my nearest and dearest have said it’s a great idea.  I expected a lot of resistance and raised eyebrows, suggesting I should wait until I find the right guy and have babies the ‘normal’ way, but I need a Plan B.  And Plan B is the Baby Plan.

No one can be sure what the coming years will bring and this plan may become Plan A, or be totally scrapped, but to minimise the sinking feeling that I’m careening towards 30 without a baby in check, plans need to be made.  For now, I’m wondering:

What will 2020 bring?

*Totally anecdotal.  Luckily, you can say anything with conviction and people** will believe you.

**Again, total rubbish.  Maybe everyone is being polite?

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