The Guardian had an article this weekend, entitled When is the right time to have a baby? Hah, right? We all looked at the headline and said hah?
But wait! It’s an article about fatherhood. Oh yes, famous(ish) men of Britain, what are your thoughts on becoming a Dad in your twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, bloody sixties even? Or on not having had any yet, even? All mildly interesting chaps, as it happens. I read the whole thing without wanting to scream or shake anyone. Good-oh.
And yet, and yet, they interview six men, and not one of them, anywhere, even once, mentions the possibility that you can do all the deciding and planning you like, but Fate might have other ideas.
Look at us. Well, look at H – I’ve known since I was 18 that having kids was not going to be completely trouble-free for me. I had one ovary go nova on me and have to be ripped out surgically before the fact it had ruptured give me septicemia. By the time we started living together I knew I had PCOS. So.
But we were looking at H. A healthy young man with no known issues, in the prime of his life. By the time we married I was desperate to have kids. I was 29, H was 30. And H had always been vaguely pro-kids. When I first started making growly ‘impregnate me!’ noises he was a little ‘weeeeeell, let’s wait and see, shall we?’ On being pressurized further (with a bicycle pump! I jest!), he very sensibly pointed out that I was unemployed, getting over the Almighty Fuck-up that was my (not)PhD, and we were living in rented accomodation, and he wanted to raise a child in a secure home with securely employed parents (he kindly didn’t add, it would help if one of them wasn’t batshit crazy).
[Both H and I were bought up by impoverished hippies. It left H rather twitchy about financial security. Heck, it left me twitchy about financial security, but where H is all about steady incomes and good living standards, I’m all about NO DEBT TO ANYONE NEVER EVER EVER BY GRABTHAR’S HAMMER I WILL NOT OWE ANYONE ANYTHING and I don’t care if I live in a shed on packet noodles to do it. Where was I? Oh, yes, children.]
Anyway, H wanted to wait until we were more financially secure. So. We waited. Then my beautiful darling niece was born, and we both got to hold her when she was less than a day old. And H melted like a pound of butter. We got married a few months later, and I got a job a few months after that, a real job, with a pension-plan, and we tossed out the contraceptive pills, and I said, dear heart, it won’t be that easy, remember I am borked, and H said nothing, as is his wont, and, well.
After a year I started this blog.
And all H’s Being Sensible and Planning this Child-Having Thing went to hell in a hand-basket. It turned into nothing we ever could have planned for, nothing we could have expected (well, I expected it taking over a year because I would have to wait that long to crowbar some drugs out of the NHS, but apart from that…).
I don’t think for one minute it would have been easier if we’d started trying when I was younger. It may well have been harder, as I was *cough*more*cough* batshit crazy in my mid-twenties and probably easier to unhinge. (Easier to unhinge? Good Lord. I’m… quite sufficiently unhinged by the whole thing as is. What a horrible thought). There have, of course, been times when I’ve wondered if we should have got on with the humpathon sans goalie when I first mooted it. But, eventually, I decide that, no, we made the right decision, for the right reasons. We really did. We started this sane, solvent, and not too bloody old neither.
But Fate, oh, Fate is such a bitch. And articles like the one that started this rant-tiddly-pom, they really don’t help. Because they make it seem like the only issue, the only possible issue, is that of readiness. You’re ready to have kids, you have kids. You’re not ready to have kids, the little beggars turn up anyway, oops damn love them anyway. No mention of you’re ready to have kids… and still ready… and been ready for a while now… OK this is getting old now… Facing a life without kids… Arse… Not funny anymore… FUCK this is just not funny anymore. (Ohhh, and the other version of this, an article about infertility or miscarriage, accompanied by a photo of the author holding a baby and a ‘lovely surprise/IVF worked’ in the last paragraph. The last-paragraph-baby appears to be MANDATORY. No acknowledgement fucking anywhere that this is the jack-pot Lucky ending, and in Real Life, the last paragraph often reads ‘more of the same, until we hit menopause and have to re-evaluate our entire existance’. I blame the newspaper editors. Twat-weasels).
So, when is the right time to have a baby? Well, whenever chance lands you with one, to be honest. It’s not up to you, really. If you think it is, or think you planned it, know this. Your plans happened to coincide with the luck of the draw. You struck gold.
But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft a-gley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promised joy.