What To Expect When You're Not Expecting

I can't say that I ever officially decided to have children - I as in my conscious decision-making self making a choice. I was quite unsure until my thirties if it would be a good idea for me at all. I presume what happened after the glorious age of 30 was that my primate brain did something to me. The cliché of the loud ticking noise, I suddenly began to hear it. First unobtrusively, then, all the time. The tinnitus I got from this must have smashed the insubordinate parts of my brain, the ones that used to yawn whenever I got the feeling I had to do something or to be a part of something, to fit some kind of stereotype. I never exactly knew how to behave around children. I was not relaxed being around them, still am not, at times. Yet it happened one day, when I saw a mother lovingly with her child in her arms, that I noticeably gasped for air. It felt liked suffocation. I wouldn't define the feeling as wanting something. I realized I didn't as much want one, as I needed a child. For my sanity. For my primate brain. This post is not a guide. This is about how I tried to remain sane during the long years of not having one, but needing a child, and badly so. In hindsight, I merely partially succeeded.

Let me think. No. Let's say you've already found out you want a child and you're working hard towards that goal. You've tried for a while and it didn't work out. Or maybe it worked, but then it didn't. What do you do to pass the time until it does? I've had three strikes in five years. Unfortunately none of them made it through the first trimester. Starting fresh after a miscarriage was hard each time. You're losing confidence in your body. You're getting super obsessive about every little circumstance that may or may not be responsible for you not getting pregnant. First of all, you have to accept, that certain things are simply out of your hands. Think positive if you can muster up the strength, but if you can't, don't feel bad for being angry. It is frustrating. It makes you crazy. Babies is probably all you can think about. If all you can think about is what you can't have, that is one very sad mental spiral to be in. It may seem as far out of reach to you as sitting on a rusty bike and dreaming about a Porsche. And then again, it may just be around the corner. Your body is torturous. Biology is a bitch. You know.

<< Don't put your life on hold
This is important. You can't stop everything else, because you want a child. If you live as though you were pregnant to become pregnant, you're not doing yourself any favors. Eating raw fish, cheese, or drinking coffee or a glass of wine, lifting stuff, it's all allowed. Yes, you may blame yourself if it doesn't work out at the end of a cycle. You will do that no matter what you do, what you eat, if you did or didn't do sports, if you ate or didn't eat certain foods. I wrecked my brain each time I miscarried or didn't conceive for what I might have done wrong. The list is incredibly long when you're looking for something that can't be found. It's not that third cup of coffee. The most likely thing is that it didn't work out for a myriad of reasons. None of them are in your control. Nothing you do will guarantee the right circumstances. What did I do right when it finally happened? Nothing. Everything. I ate whatever I craved for, chocolate, mainly. I drank lots of coffee. I was too lazy to work out, and around conception time, I read a really boring fantasy book. Find the answer anywhere in there? If there is one, it says, try to mentally detach yourself from the biology behind getting pregnant. You can't finetune the incubator. Trust it, for it knows best.

<< Create your own voodoo
You feel like you need to do something. Yes. Doing something seems to put people in an exceptionally positive mood. Treat your body like a temple. Imagine you're a fertile riverbed or whatever. Be aware that voodoo is voodoo. There is no medicinal value in dancing around a totem pole except the one you create in your head - placebo the hell out of it! Your state of mind is important. Placebo is your friend. Go massage your stomach with your left hand. Bath in mud. Stick needles in your chi, feng shui your bedroom. It's all good and healthy as long as it makes you feel good and there is no real chemistry involved. Stay away from strong substances. Let the doctors handle strong substances. You go to your happy place and relax.

<< Be aware of hormones
There's one tiny little piece of chemistry you need to be aware of: progesterone. Especially if you have passed the presumably best childbearing age of 20. Progesterone can have influence on the actual occurrence and continuation of a pregnancy. If you're having trouble conceiving or sustaining a pregnancy over a period of time, go see a doctor. Let them monitor progesterone and hormone levels throughout your trial runs. It will help you figure out a possible deficiency and help you fix it. I took progesterone during my last (successful) trial. It may have helped. I took it some time earlier that year and it didn't. No guarantees, but chances are, it will more likely help than hurt your efforts.

<< Don't be mean to your partner
(unless he or she is responsible - then, go ahead and nag him or her endlessly about it) Kidding, of course! It's so hard to stay rational. I've tried to explain this to men several times. Being theoretically able to father children until they drop, they don't seem to fully grasp the pressure-filled window we're in. It can put a serious strain on relationships when fertility is an issue. Fertility. Even the word sounds discriminatory. Whatever you do, try to hold on to the big picture. Testicles are not baby juice jars. A man is not just a donor, a woman is not an oven. Don't reduce people to their baby-making qualities. I know it sounds like a d'oh sort of thing to say, but it can be hard when you're on emotional edge. What you should think and talk about are possible consequences. Talk much. You need to be able to talk about your options. How much do you want children? More than you want to be with your partner? Think about it, and without being resentful or fearful, just play it through in your mind. Can you imagine alternative scenarios? Then think about it some more. The important and excruciating part is to not guilt your partner into staying the childless course if the problem is on your end. It's scary to think that way, but you need to do it for the sake of your relationship.

<< Cuddle your inner child
Be kind to yourself. You're of worth, you are or were at some point someone's child. What you do and how you feel is important. Find an outlet for your frustration. Do things you want to do, things you know you couldn't do with a child. Travel the world, take that crazy job offer in Helsinki. We're all just finding ways to pass the time. Having a child means passing over time to someone else entirely. You will stay the center of your own life if you don't have a child. There's an upside to that way of existing. People say that having children is the most important thing in life. I know it has changed a whole lot for me, and opened my eyes to another perspective entirely. I have never felt such love for anyone or anything in the world. It's unbearable at times. But in a larger sense, it's not that important for the world if I do or do not have children, at least not as much as it is for myself. I find that caring for someone, for a partner or a pet can do that also. My cats were my babies long before I knew my son. It doesn't matter that they never needed me as much as he does at the moment. Cats are self-sufficient beings. My son will be self-sufficient as well at some point. The transition will be painful, but I care for them either way. Cleaning the cat toilet or cleaning a diaper. One's a little less messy than the other, but in the end, it's all coming out of the same area. Poop, everywhere! Doesn't matter whose. It's all love. Good old sappy love.