The best-laid schemes o’ mice an ‘men

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.


12 responses to “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an ‘men

  • BigP's Heather

    And add in movies too – they seem to always have the last minute baby and everyone lives happily ever after bits. And life isn’t always like that.

  • wombattwo

    Growly “impregnate me” noises – oh my God, so so familiar!
    I think, and as has been proved by myself and many many other women, you can plan for kids all you like, but quite a lot of the time it doesn’t work out that way. Except in Hollywood, and for the carelessly fertile…

  • a

    *Cynic’s view: But they only run these type of stories to get the general public more pumped up when they run the infertility/miscarriage story next week. Because you won’t know how screwed up you are until they tell you what’s “normal’ first.

    And yet the poets understand…

  • Womb For Improvement


    That is going to go viral quicker than you can say COCFOC.

  • Hairy Farmer Family

    Ah, good old Alan! You know, I would probably kill someone unimportant to see him at the RSC in a good production of something!

    ‘…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…’

    Ohh, lovey. You’re not wrong. And you put it so rightly.

    • May

      I KNEW you’d get it! HA HAH she yelled triumphantly. And I’d kill the unimportant someone’s unimportant friend. *sigh*



      *makes brave face*

  • Betty M

    You are so right. As always. And have you noticed that those celebs / well-knowns who do tell their (baby at the end natch) infertility stories always have probs on the girl side. Apparently boys cant say anything about their bits.

    And who is Alan?

  • L.

    It bothers me just as much if not more that you never hear anyone say anything about that in real life, either–the possibility that things might not work out as they’ve planned. If one in ten suffer from infertility or related issues, then surely they must have at least once heard a story or two that suggest plans might go awry, but you almost never hear anyone mention that possibility, past or present.

    I suppose people don’t talk about these things much because it’s so personal and painful–even people who are very open in the blogosphere. I try to be that person who gently notes she was lucky, but the possibility of things NOT going well is always a conversational porcupine unless you know the other person very well.

  • Valery

    yes, yes, yes and yes.
    ‘… until we hit menopause and have to re-evaluate our entire existence’

    OR menopause hits us/me, at thirtysomething. Also not according to newspaper planning, not according to the “comfortable” (acceptable?) average of 51….

  • thalia

    Reminds me of a womens networking thing I went to once. And one of the junior women asked the panel when was the best time to have children, in terms of managing her career. And the panel members one by one answered, when this happens, when that happens, blah di blah, and inwardly I was screaming, and then finally the last woman says “have children whenever you bloody well can, you have no idea how long it’s going to take you and the last thing you want to have happen is to find it all takes forever and you have missed your chance.” And I sighed a sigh of relief and blessed her quietly.

  • Bee Cee

    “your plans happened to coincide with the luck of the draw”. You put it bloody perfectly.

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