What you’re about to read isn’t perhaps the feel good content that I hope to bring to you further down the line. Maybe a lot of my writing the next few days and weeks will be of a similar tone too, I’m not sure. Truth is, with 16.5 weeks to go until my little baby is due to join us on this big planet of ours, I’m now at that stage where impending fatherhood is making me reflect on my life as a whole thus far. Seriously, you’d think I was reaching my end of days, and in some ways I suppose I am, as everything changes for me in a few short months – for better, might I add!
To truly understand my story as a father, or currently a soon-to-be father, you need to have some insight into my past experience on the matter. For me to give you that insight, I have to talk about some things that I haven’t ever really discussed with anyone beyond some close friends and family. To cut straight to the point, I honestly was not meant to ever be expecting the arrival of a little baby.
You see, for the majority of my twenties, I was married. It almost feels like the whole thing is somewhat taboo, something I’m never meant to discuss, but the simple fact is I was married at 22, and divorced at 28. I actually read the divorce confirmation letter whilst sat on the toilet, which felt rather fitting, but that’s a story for a different time!
The reason my previous marriage is so relevant to this blog is that I came out of it with no children. That’s not to say we didn’t want them, because we did, but unfortunately there were complications which made it very difficult for my ex-wife and I to have children. Considering how that marriage would later fall apart, I’ve often wondered if our inability to conceive was actually God’s way of ensuring a child didn’t get born into one almighty messed up parental relationship. We couldn’t even properly agree times for me to see our dogs, so how would we have ever ensured a child wouldn’t have had his/her childhood completely messed up by our immaturity towards each other after our break-up?
To say it was just accepted that we weren’t able to have children would be a lie, however, and outright ignore one of the worst experiences of my life: a failed IVF treatment.
It’s a funny thing, experiencing a failed IVF treatment. I don’t mean laugh out loud funny, but just funny in a peculiar almost spiritual sense. You see, for all the slim chances of success they give you, the whole procedure just seems so damn scientific and well organised that you can’t help but believe it’s going to work. But when it doesn’t, and it’s you breaking the news… that absolutely sucks. I can’t even describe how horrible it is – I honestly wouldn’t even know where to begin.
The peculiar aspect, as I described it above, is that you are suddenly faced with three options as a man. Either you keep up the good fight, fully believing in it or just doing it to keep your partners spirits up, or you resign yourself to the idea that you are not going to be a father. The third option is, of course, to sit somewhere in between options one and two. I chose option three.
So there I was, a 27 year old man now facing the somewhat empty realisation that I was unlikely to ever become a father. I made peace with it, and started planning a possible life without children. The plan wasn’t all that bad either, and involved early retirement and a lot of travelling around the world!
Fast forward nearly two years, and I’m 29, in a long-term relationship with a truly wonderful woman, and living in not only a new city, but technically a new country too. At this point, I’ve also boosted my salary by 25% and am now working as part of my employers Head Office team. On my way into the office, I get a text from the aforementioned wonderful girlfriend, asking me to phone her whenever I can, which I do, within minutes. Then, stood in an office building in the middle of Didcot, I find out that I’m going to be a father.
Five months pass. My lady gets herself a big bump, we find out our baby is a boy, and we start planning his little nursery, amongst other things. And on each of those wonderful days, I honestly always stop and think how none of this was ever meant to happen, that I wasn’t meant to experience any of this.
But perhaps I was? And maybe, just maybe, this was always meant to happen?
(Please note, IVF is a tough process that involves a lot of waiting, a lot of hope, a lot of pain for the lady, and emotional stress for both her and her partner. For all those who have been through it unsuccessfully but are still keeping the faith, I love each of you, and hope you are able to become parents – you all deserve it.)