To be a mother without a child is perhaps one of natures cruellest tricks. For many women, myself included, the biological urge to reproduce is deeply ingrained within us and permeates every aspect of our lives. For a lucky few the decision to turn this desire into reality is met with instant results, for most it happens a few months later, and for the unlucky it never happens.
My husband and I are very, very fertile. He and his ex partner conceived my step son accidentally just a couple of months into their relationship and as soon as he and I decided to try we were pregnant both times. Of course the first ended in a loss but the second resulted in the most beautiful child ever.
The problem is that two people close to us are struggling. These are two of the people we care most about in the world and people who are already parents in everything about themselves, except they have been unable to conceive. They are in a stable, loving marriage, have a home, a good and regular income. They have dreamed of being parents their entire lives and would be truly amazing. I have seen them with Miss Rose, who adores them, and they are wonderful. On paper they are exactly the kind of people who should be making babies yet are denied.
As well as mourning their loss, loss of a dream, we feel guilty. Logically we know we have done nothing wrong and had we struggled it wouldn’t have made their struggle easier, yet the feeling is there. We want to involve them in Miss Rose’s life as well as ours, we love them, she loves them, and they’re wonderful people to be around, but equally so we don’t want to rub our reproduction success in their faces… as it were.
When broaching these worries the response is always that they want to be involved and would be devastated if we backed off to give them space. They love our little girl deeply and truly, indeed she was there all through my labour and was one of the first to hold her.
I am a firm believer that you do not need to get pregnant to be a mother, equally so giving birth doesn’t automatically make you one in anything more than biology. Motherhood comes from something else. It comes from love and time. It comes from devotion. It comes from taking a child, knowing they are yours, and filling your heart with them. It doesn’t matter if someone else gave birth to them. It doesn’t matter if they have no biological link to you. If you hold them tight and know they are yours and love them as such then they are your child and you are their mother or father.
Despite being one of the luckiest, I have witnessed first hand the pain and anxiety of fertility struggles, and the strength shown by those struggling. I don’t know if I would have coped as well as my friend and I have nothing but admiration for her and her husband. I also know that motherhood is in her future. They will be incredible parents to whichever baby they have whether they are able to conceive or not, and their love for my daughter and desire to be hugely involved in her life makes me feel very blessed. I wouldn’t blame them for finding her and us too hard to be around, but they don’t, and we are so lucky.