Today marks day 24 in our third cycle of trying to conceive. According to the stats it’s estimated that around 60% of couples conceive within three cycles of trying. Which means by the weekend we’ll know if we fall into that 60% or not.
I think we have both found our patience running out at various points in our journey. Sometimes this can lead to frustration at our own bodies not doing exactly what we want. Tears when Aunt Flo arrives and all sorts of other feelings in between.
TTC: To share or not to share, that is the question
We started out keeping things relatively quiet from others, sharing only with two of our closest friends. However, along the way, we’ve shared a bit more, which kind of has its pros and cons. Last month, while waiting for my period to arrive I had the longest cycle ever in over a year. During this time, it’s hard to think about anything else. Everything else in your life is kind of on hold a bit, just waiting for the second pink line to appear on the pee stick.
Last month, the night before my period finally arrived I was (somewhat reluctantly) going out with friends. It’s pretty hard keeping the news from them when they’re pouring you prosecco with dinner and finding it weird you’re getting tap water at the bar. After tipping my prosecco into my friend’s toilet I decided to share the news with her.
However on the flipside, once people know they almost expect an update on the situation. This then kind of makes it feel worse when there isn’t good news to share. I am pretty much sick of hearing the words ‘oh I’m sure it’ll happen soon’ uttered from well-meaning friends and family. And at worst, your friends who don’t know just think you’ve become really boring since you got your new boyfriend two years ago.
Try not to worry what others think; everyone has their own struggles
I think because our relationship hasn’t followed the traditional path (to say the least) people aren’t sitting there waiting to hear the news. We don’t have the house (just yet- we will 😉 or the shiny wedding photo on the shelf in the living room. Which also brings its own issues. At lunch last week, two friends were sharing that they always think a baby is an accident if the couple isn’t married. And openly admitted that they probably shouldn’t think that.
It’s hard sometimes to just let people’s opinions wash over you; but you have to remember, that’s all they are. Everyone’s opinions are formed based on their own experiences. One friend shared that everyone in her (fairly religious) family got married before they had kids. And her two closest home friends have also followed suit. Another’s parents almost divorced, but worked things out she believes because they were married.
People will always judge you, but it’s down to you to work out what is negotiable and what isn’t. While big, famcy weddings are higher on their priority list right now, to me they really aren’t, and you know what that’s fine too.
The bitter brigade
Another thing approaching 32 entails in the bitter brigade constantly criticising and commenting on those settling down. Yes people are getting engaged, they are ‘settling’, and yes they may have put on some weight when they are nine months pregnant! People have other priorities than getting drunk at the weekend and your bitterness isn’t helping you to achieve the same. They aren’t boring, they’re just not acting like reckless teenagers anymore- rant over.
The grandparents to-be
And mums are a whole other dimension as they eagerly await becoming grandparents. My mum’s friend shared the news her newly married daughter was trying (queue speculation at a pretty bumpy looking photo which appeared on Facebook). Six months later and no news and strange excuses about having to wait due to visiting Mexico on their honeymoon. I think she is just trying to save face a bit, but again, it wouldn’t have happened if she had kept it under her hat.
Jobs, careers and maternity leave
It’s easy for this journey to become all consuming, but I think it’s important to try not to let it. My work had started to get me down at the end of last year, I found it boring, uninspiring and unfulfilling with the threat of redundancy potentially not too far off. What’s a girl to do? Wait it out if only for the easy commute (ten min walk) and good maternity leave? Or jump ship and get the hell out of there, but potentially sacrifice some of the mat leave? Well it seems life sometimes just throws something your way right when you need it.
After accepting a random LinkedIn request I quickly had a telephone interview followed by a face to face and a new job offer. Bit more money, better prospects (hopefully) and the commute is outweighed by the potential to work from home 1-2 days per week. Yep, it worries me a bit I may join and quickly fall preg.
But it was also a great way of distracting me from menstrual cycles, fertility apps and waiting for my period. I’m hoping with a new challenge ahead, my mind will be much more occupied with the new role than if I had carried on plodding along in my current job.
The dreaded two week wait
While all of this is going on, you become pretty conscious of your health so generally your downtime starts to change. It’s no longer all about prosecco brunches and dinners with cocktails. Rather than sitting around I’d definitely recommend taking up a new hobby. I signed up to one of those posh gyms with all the nice classes and pool and spa area. I try to go around four times per week, and particularly find the holistic classes helpful for calming my mind and just giving me something else to focus on.
On that note, I am also trying to enjoy all the food and drink you can’t eat when there is a little one on board. Think cheese, bubbles, sushi and seafood. Having something to look forward to (that isn’t baby related) is also important. So this month we’ll be planning a weekend away somewhere, and who knows maybe we can give the baby some kind of exotic name like Paris, Brooklyn or Madrid 😉
I read an incredibly heartwarming story the other day that was first reported in the summer of 2017. A Nigerian couple were trying to conceive for 20 years with no success.
They would’ve been happy to have just a single precious child. They weren’t even considering how to conceive twins. Many in their position would’ve given up and simply accepted that it was never going to happen.
However, the couple still believed and were finally rewarded. Not with 1 child, not with twins but with six babies! I had to even check the name for six, sextuplets!
That got me to thinking, is there reason they had more than just one baby? Did their years of trying make twins more likely?
The Town of Twins
When I researched a bit more, I found that there are even towns that are famed for their high twin rate. Mohammadpur Umri, a small village in India, has a total of 33 pairs of twins, which doesn’t seem particularly high, until you learn that there are just 600 people living in this village!
While scientists have managed to do various tests, they’ve not yet pinpointed why there is such a high twin rate in the village, it can’t simply be chance?
Has anyone been able to discover the secrets to having twins? Why did the Nigerian couple have 6 children when they finally managed to conceive? Why is there such a high twin rate in some areas?
Based on our curiosity, we’ve found that there are range of reasons, some based on science, other not… We’re now going to detail some of things that actually influence how many babies you have and if there are things you can do to impact your chances.
However, to start with we are going to look at the actual causes for identical and non-identical twins.
What Causes Identical (Monozygotic) Twins?
This blog isn’t a science journal so I’m not going to go into the ins and outs of the theories surrounding identical twins. However, to add context to the rest of the article, I’m going to detail some of the most popular theories. You guys can choose your favourite and make your own decision.
Unbeknown to me, there are actually different types of identical twins. The zygote can split into two at any time during the first 10 days of the pregnancy. The timing of the split will determine the type of identical twins:
1 day – Dichorionic/Diamniotic – These twins have the time to develop their own amniotic sac and placenta.
4-5 days – Monochorionic-Diamniotic – These twins will have a separate amniotic sac but the late development will mean that have have to share a placenta.
10 days – Monochorionic-Monoamniotic (Mirror Twins) – This type of twins form too late to develop their own amniotic sac or placenta, so they share.
13-15 days – Conjoined twins – These are very rare, occurring once in every 200,000 births. Unfortunately, only 5 to 25 percent of conjoined twins survive birth.
In terms of what actually causes the zygote split, there is still some debate. A study in Lyon has suggested that it is the collapse of the embryo that causes the creation of twins.
During this collapse, the cells containing the genetic material are split in half, meaning that the genetic material is divided into small halves of the embryo, which eventually leads to the development of two fetuses.
However, from what I’ve read, while scientists have a good handle on the actual process that occurs, that are still pretty clueless when it comes to determining what actually triggers the process. Perhaps in the next couple of years, scientists will pinpoint the reason for this seemingly random event.
What Causes Non-Identical (Dizygotic) Twins?
Unlike monozygotic twins, fraternal twins are formed by the fertilisation of two different eggs by two different sperm. These zygotes will then share the womb during their gestation period. While these zygotes are sharing the same womb, they’re no more genetically similar than siblings born years apart.
The number of eggs fertilised and the number of babies created is dependent on the number of eggs that are released during ovulation. If 5 eggs are released and fertilised then 5 zygotes will be created.
Therefore, the underlying cause of twins and other multiple births is hyper-ovulation. Unlike the random split to create identical twins, there has been plenty of research and studies which have proven the causes of hyper ovulation:
Family twins: My mum had twins, does that mean I will?
There is really nothing that you can do about this one. According to the NHS, while identical twins don’t run in the family, non-identical twins certainly do.
Non-identical twins are a product of two separate eggs being fertilised. There is a specific genetic combination that makes it more likely for a woman to release two eggs during ovulation and that gene can be passed down.
That gene can also skip a generation if it is inherited by the man and then passed onto his daughters. If you have a fraternal twin yourself then you’re 2.5 times more likely to have a twin. This genetic propensity for twins is only important for the woman, the man’s family don’t impact on the chance of twins.
While there does appear to be a clear link between twins in the family and your chances of having them, scientists haven’t yet been able to pinpoint the specific gene that is responsible. It is likely that a combination of genetic and environmental factors lead to hyper-ovulation.
By contrast, for identical twins, the splitting of an embryo into two embryos is a random occurrence and hasn’t yet been proven to have any basis in your genetics. It does appear that this is pure chance.
It seems that there is a direct link between your BMI and your chance of conceiving twins. For women with a BMI of over 30, there is a significantly higher chance of conceiving twins.
According to the oft used scale, having a BMI of over 30 will mean that you’re obese with 25-29.9 being classified as overweight. However, this is often a crude scale that doesn’t take into account muscle mass and a range of other factors. Just because you have a BMI of 30 doesn’t mean you are obese!
It interesting to note that the rise in women’s average BMI in the past 20-30 years has led to an increase in the number of fraternal twins being born.
If you have a BMI of over 30 you’re not guaranteed twins but the evidence suggests you definitely have a higher chance.
The No. Children You Have
It seems that this one is more due to a combination of other factors rather than a direct cause. Although, if you want to see more opinions from mums then there is a great MumsNet thread on the subject. If you’ve already given birth to 4+ children then you’re likely to be significantly older, which means you are more likely to have twins.
If you have a large family then it is more likely that some of the children are twins, meaning you’re more likely. The average woman will have gained more weight from having such a large family, meaning she is more likely to have twins.
You can see that there are a combination of other factors that mean that having a large family correlates with a great likelihood of having twins, despite not actually causing it.
While this is a popular wives tale, there doesn’t seem to be a scientific reason for it.
After a height of 5 foot 4, the chance of conceiving twins grows exponentially with the increase in height. I used to think that this was a bit of a myth but there is conclusive evidence to support this theory. Women giving birth to twins are on average, an inch taller than those who aren’t.
It has been found that taller women have a higher amount of insulin-like growth factor. This insulin-like growth factor can increase a woman’s sensitivity to follicle stimulating hormones. This in turn will lead to the release of more than one egg during ovulation, increasing the chance of twins.
There is no doubt that the use of IVF increases the likelihood of having twins. By natural conception, the rate of twins is around 3 per 1,000. When using IVF, that rate climbs by some 7 times, up to 21 per 1,000. According to some figures, a whopping 40% of IVF pregnancies related in a multiple birth.
This is due to the number of embryos that are placed in during an IVF cycle. This is due to the poor quality of some embryos. This process means that there is significantly higher chance of a single embryo implanting.
However, it also means there is a greater chance of more than one implanting too.
With modern science, fertility doctors are now able to identify the embryos with the greatest chance of success. By choosing the high quality embryos, some are now opting for elective single egg transfer.
In this way, a single embryo is selected from your batch of embryos. Consequently, we may see the number of twins conceived via IVF drop in the coming years. The UK regulator has lowered the target for multiple births from 15% down to 10%, due to the potential complication.
According to the US Department of Health & Human Services, the twin birth rate has increased by over 75% since 1980. While there are a number of other factors, like the increased used of IVF, the average age of conception is a big part.
In the UK, the average age of first time mothers has climbed from 26.4 in 1974 to 30.3 in 2015 according to the office for National Statistics.
This trend is being mirrored in the United States:
There are a number of reasons for the increase in the average age of first-time mothers in the world’s most developed countries.
Women are choosing to have children later, more women have been able to build careers, there is less of a focus on having a large family and having children is more expensive than ever.
There is heated debate about the actual reasons but the evidence is undeniable. Women are choosing to have children later and later in their lives.
The impact of age on twin rate boils down to the number of eggs that are being released during each ovulation. As women get older, a higher level of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) is required to trigger the release of the eggs. This increased level of FSH means that it is more likely that more than one egg is released.
In the US, an increased average age of first time mothers directly correlates with the increasing number of multiple births.
There have been a number of studies that have shown there are variations in twin rate among different races. In the US, while the overall twin rate between 1989-91 was 2.26%, it climbed to 2.69% for non-Hispanic blacks and fell to 1.67% in the non-Hispanic other group.
While it is clear from the research and the article so far, that there are dozens of factors at play, scientists haven’t yet pinpointed why there are such large variations in twin rates.
An Enzyme In The Sperm
While there hasn’t yet been proof of a gene that causes identical twins, there are some that have suggested that an enzyme in the sperm is responsible for the production of identical twins. Yes identical twins do seem to run in some families and some dads like to think they have super sperm but there isn’t yet the scientific proof for this theory.
This increased chance of conceiving twins is due to higher IGF (insulin-like growth factor) levels when breastfeeding. The higher IGF levels significantly increase the chance of more than one egg being released.
Again, this is another factor that I thought wasn’t true but it turns out there is a real link between dairy consumption and twinning rates. Those consuming dairy regularly are 5 times more likely to have twins. This is due to the link between dairy and insulin-like growth factor.
Consuming more milk leads to higher level of insulin-like growth factor, leading to increase sensitivity to follicle stimulating hormones. Increased sensitivity means more eggs are released during ovulation and there is a substantially greater chance of twins being conceived.
There are a couple of caveats to the main study that most of the articles link to. Firstly, those women with a lower dairy consumption could be deficient in other nutrients, particularly when following a vegan diet. Secondly, those women consuming more dairy, on average had a higher BMI. Finally, there has been contradictory research showing that the IGF levels in cows have virtually no impact on those in the milk drinkers.
Ultimately, it seems like there is some connection between the eating dairy and a higher twinning rate. Nonetheless, there are a number of mitigating factors.
Twins – Frequently Asked Questions
In researching this article, there were a few popular questions that kept cropping up and I though they should be included. I found them interesting, so hopefully you will too.
Just How Common Are Twins?
In 2015, of the 4 million live births in the US, just 24 involved 5 or more babies. To be honest, this is still a few more than I was expecting. While I think twins would actually be kind of ideal, there is no way I’m equipped to cope with 5 little ones running around. It would be an endless supply in crying, pooping and mess!
How To Tell If You’re Carrying Twins?
Twin pregnancy symptoms are not all that different to ordinary pregnancy symptoms but do often occur a lot earlier than would normally be expected. While there are a number of signs for a twin pregnancy, these read like a list of ordinary pregnancy signs. Plus, there is always the caveat that every woman is different and will have their own symptoms.
Weight gain, extreme tiredness, nausea and varicose veins are just some of the signs.
The only time you will truly know is when you are seeing two embryos on the ultrasound or hearing two separate heart beats.
Is Having Twins Dangerous?
It is true that there is an increased risk of complications with a multi birth pregnancy, when compared to the conventional single birth pregnancy. There are a number of issues that can be worsened by a multi birth. These include gestational diabetes, premature birth, low birth weight and preeclampsia.
The good news is that the health service are aware of the increased complications and so long as you’re regularly checked, a number of issues can be averted. There is no need to worry about having twins.
In the first month of the blog, we talked about some of the ways that you could use to calculate when you’re ovulating, some of the most obvious signs and other things to consider. Well, we’re on to month two and I’m still not pregnant! So we have conducted yet more research and put together another post that will hopefully hope those at the same stage as us.
As mentioned, this month marks number two in our journey of trying to conceive. As part of that we have both done lots of reading up and research on how to improve our chances, and it seems that pinpointing that magic ovulation day is the key.
The 24 Hour Window
From the research, and a sketchy memory of GCSE Biology, ovulation tends to occur mid-cycle and is the day when your egg is released from the ovary and into the fallopian tube. It’s prime time for doing the baby dance so that sperm has the best chance of meeting the egg. Considering the egg only lives for a short window of around 24 hours, having sex a few days prior and on the day is vital for conception. The fertile window totals 6 days. 5 days for the lifetime of the sperm and 24 hours for the lifetime of the egg.
Personally I had no idea that the egg is only available for fertilisation within such a short period. Therefore, this month we have refined our strategy somewhat. Rather than focusing on a shorter period of a week in the run-up to what the fertility apps predict ovulation to occur, and having sex every day, we’re extending the period of time and have had sex every 2-3 days instead, to try and give the sperms enough time to re-generate. It turns out that having sex as often as possible isn’t the best for your sperm quantity and quality.
Get That Crystal Ball Out (Or Thermometer)
So how can you predict when ovulation occurs? Well, there’s a multitude of ways.
The simplest way is to start keeping a note of your period cycles; I started logging these last November when I stopped taking the pill. Looking back over my data, my cycle has ranged from 26 days, up to 32 days. Ovulation usually happens 12-16 days before your next period, which means each month the date of ovulation can differ slightly. This gives a good indication of the week you’re generally most fertile, but there are two days per month you reach peak fertility. Identifying these gives you the best chances of conceiving.
So in addition to tracking your cycle you will also need to start paying close attention to your body. Remember ever having extremely sticky, stretchy almost egg white discharge? I know I’ve had it in the past and definitely wondered what the cause was. Well wonder no more! It’s due to your body producing lots more oestrogen, triggering this mucus which helps and protects the sperm on its long journey to meet the egg. If you have the stomach for it then you can see what that mucus can look like on the BabyCentre.
Furthermore, ovulation can often cause slight cramping often on one side (the side you are ovulating from). This is called Mittelschmerz, which is German for middle pain and is caused by the maturation or release of an egg on from the ovary. Last month I think I had this pain which came slightly later than my apps predicted, and trusting the apps and not knowing all the signs we didn’t do any baby dancing during this time.
Next, you will need to buy a basal body thermometer which displays the temperature to two point decimals. This will be used to chart your temperature, which you will need to take first thing after waking up in the morning. Your temperature changes throughout your monthly cycle ever so slightly, as natural hormone fluctuations take place. During the first two weeks of your cycle, oestrogen is the more dominant hormone. And during the second half, once ovulation has taken place a rise is progesterone causes a rise in your body temperature as the uterus prepares to receive a fertilised, implantable egg. You can expect your basal body temperature to be lowest at ovulation, and then increase straight away around half a degree once you have ovulated.
After reading this, I was left wondering exactly what the point of using the thermometer was, as it kind of only seemed like a good way of knowing the horse had already bolted. After doing some more reading, it’s advisable that you chart your temperature for a few months so you can then more accurately predict your ovulation day. So I guess it is not completely pointless. Next month will be our first month using the thermometer, so it might do the trick!
What Is Your Cervix Up To?
Now this one probably isn’t for the squeamish out there, but is worth a go, especially if you are trying to speed up the TTC process or have been trying for a long time. When your body receives the heads up that your ovary is about to release an egg, it starts to prepare for the flood of sperm it expects to try to give your egg the best chance of being fertilised. The cervix, which is the passage between the vagina and the uterus starts to become softer and opens up a little to allow the sperm through.
It’s said that when you are not fertile the cervix feels like the tip of a nose, as opposed to when you are fertile and ovulating it feels like a soft pair of lips. Again, it will probably take a while for you to become familiar with your body, and what is normal for you. There is a WikiHow that explains how to feel your cervix in 9 simple steps, if you are interested in doing it, or getting your partner to try! See the steps here.
Get the Gear
Lastly, if you prefer a slightly less messy way of telling when is optimum time to have sex there are numerous ovulation predictor kits on the market. They work by detecting the surge of LH hormone in your urine, usually 12-24 hours before ovulation takes place. This is the final hormone which increases before ovulation occurs. The bump has taken a look at some of the best ovulation kits on the market if you want to give one of these a go.
I have peed on a number of these tests around the time the apps tell me I’m due to ovulate and have not once had the little smiley face in the window, which has become increasingly frustrating. So from this point onwards, I have officially given up pee sticks. They just leave me feeling a bit confused and sad, like a child that has learnt Santa isn’t real. From doing a little more research, I’m not the only person that is getting negative readings all the time.
Instead, I have invested in a basal body thermometer. The one I ordered is supposed to be all singing and dancing, complete with a daily alarm to remind you to take your temperature, and logs the data for 60 days to save messing around with paper charts and pencils first thing in the morning when you have just opened your eyes.
Also, the reviews were much better than the cheaper alternatives, and when it comes to such slight temperature shifts I think it’s best to buy the more accurate thermometer. It’s due to arrive in just a few days, so I’ll let you know how I get on over the course of the next month, if of course this month hasn’t been a success.
Hopefully there won’t be a third edition to this series of posts!
So this is our first month trying to conceive (TTC), and I feel like we have definitely given it our best shot! I used my normal period diary app which I have been using for the past year since I first came off the pill.
Update: We are into month two and haven’t been able to conceive yet so we have also put together another post detailing month 2’s ovulation research.
When did I ovulate?
According to this app I ovulated on Sunday. At the end of last week (on Friday) I scurried into Boots to purchase a pack of ClearBlue ovulation tests. I decided to start testing on the Friday as it is supposed to pick up the surge in LH hormone you produce as you approach ovulation, and suggests getting busy between the sheets within the next 48 hours to maximise your chances.
After taking the test I waited a while downstairs in the loo at work, but there was no smiley face. We decided to get busy in the evening anyway, cos you know, just in case. On Saturday morning, not to be too graphic but it seemed like I may have ovulated overnight. For the curious minds in the room here are the signs:
What are the signs of ovulation?
Usually 10-16 days before the start of your next period (mid-cycle, depending on length)
Cervical mucus changes.
Heightened sense of smell.
Breast soreness or tenderness.
Mild pelvic or lower abdominal pain.
Light spotting or discharge.
Changes in the cervix
I tested again, waiting for my smiley to appear. Nope, no smiley. Just an empty sad looking egg like shape.
Googling away, it seemed a lot of people had experienced this with these tests. Am I doing it right? I’m sure I read the instructions! Are you supposed to use the first wee of the day? It didn’t say in the leaflet, as apparently you produce more of the LH throughout the day and the best time to test is around midday.
Sunday, once again I tried the test, only to get the o symbol again. Ergh! So annoying, and it’s only the first month. How do people do this month in and month out? Patience has never been a strong point of mine, but I guess it’s all good practice right?
The ovulation calculator
I decided to download another app, called the Ovulation Calculator https://www.ovulationcalculator.com/ Unlike the period diary it allows you to enter your personal details; age, weight, height, whether you smoke or not and so on. It also gives you loads of information. I mean, it even had photos of a cervix on there and how it changes through the month. I did not know it resembled a very gross looking donut! Nor did I know it literally opens for like two days per month to let the salmons through. To contradict this, the period app said I was in my fertile stage as soon as my period was over.
The human body all seems a bit flawed right now- though I’m sure this perception will change over time.
Ovulation and gender selection
I even learnt about the Shettle theory that girls are generally conceived prior to ovulation, while boys are conceived on the day of ovulation- hence the covering all bases in the run up to ovulation, whatever bloody day it is!
Our sex life has turned into a bit of a science experiment, albeit an extremely fun one. And not to mention the over-analysis of any kind of twinge or symptom. Queue more Googling.
What are the early signs of pregnancy?
Tender, swollen breast. Your breasts may provide one of the first symptoms of pregnancy. …
Slight bleeding or cramping.
Nausea with or without vomiting.
Food aversions or cravings.
They really do seem like the most fun!
Am I feeling queasy? Am I going off certain foods (I couldn’t face my beloved peanut butter on toast on Friday morning) feeling dizzy-ish at the gym doing a dance based exercise class (was it just the lack of air con?) or like today, I’ve generally just felt fairly warm while everyone else at work was cold, and a bit spacey (but could it be I’m wearing glasses rather than contact lenses and I’m just not used to it?) The worst bit to come is the two week wait, or TTW as the people in the forums like to call it.
I wish I was one of those people that could just be like oh you know, we’ll just see what happens. But as Chris said, if we’re doing it, we’re doing it properly! No point dilly-dallying around, doing it at all the wrong times- so this week we’ll be powering through.
Though at the moment, the app says I’m very fertile, but the chances of putting a bun in the preverbal lady oven are at like 35%. I just don’t feel like they’re the strongest odds. Let alone if you were to leave it until you are over the fertility cliff face at the ripe old age of 35.
I’m working on the basis that it won’t happen the first month of trying; the ladies in the forums say if this happens to you you’re very lucky indeed. And in that case, we’ll just have a very fun Christmas and New Year, bubbles and all. And if we are very lucky, it will be the very best Christmas present of all.
I was never one of those girls who grew up dreaming of being a mummy. Ergh! Kids I always thought. We never had any babies in my family, or small kids, unlike my younger cousins who had loads on their Dad’s side. Consequently, both of them have or are currently in the process of having kids. Me and my sister? Clueless what to do with them.
Looking back, it’s not really surprising my mum lives in fear of never becoming a nanny. However, like mother like daughter. It was somewhat reassuring as I approached my late twenties that my mum was never very maternal either (she actually wanted a monkey before deciding to have me) and that my nan also panicked she would never have any grandchildren.
However, a few years ago something inside me changed, probably helped along by spending time with my little (then) niece. I’d babysit and we’d snuggle up on the sofa and watch Disney films together, or when I’d pick her up from school, she’d automatically reach up to hold my hand and start to tell me all about her day- more than she would tell her mum too.
It totally makes you appreciate the world from a child’s point of view, which is very refreshing, and actually quite a lot of fun. I mean, it’s also totally exhausting; and that’s just the endless questions, and not to mention when they won’t stop jumping on the sofa!
But I was definitely not ready for my own; despite looking at my cat and thinking, God if I love her this much it almost scares me how much I’ll love my kids. Lolz.
At 29 I was loving going out a lot, having fun with friends, doing my own thing and being totally selfish. There was also a lot of stuff I wanted to do before having kids; travel (tick!) go out to nice places (tick) have my own photography business (errr, nope but that’s totally fine!).
Fast forward a few years and things could not be more different. Mostly due to a new relationship. I didn’t go looking for someone to be a dad for my kids, but feel very lucky that it happened, well fingers crossed- and that he’s my bestie to boot! He’s kind, thoughtful, extremely supportive, responsible, bright, keeps me calm and even has a sick pack and GSOH too.
Is this what it means to be broody?
As the last year or so has ticked by, the thought of having my own family has almost constantly been on my mind, though always just out of reach. And just walking through the baby clothes section of any department store or supermarket literally makes my ovaries hurt (a fact which I kept very much between just me and a few girlfriends! It was the tiny frilly ankle socks that did it)
Yep, and while just the thought of giving birth makes me freak out a bit (a bit? well actually quite a lot, but I’ll be having ALL the drugs) but you know what’s scarier than that? Regret, and choosing to not let it happen at all.
I’ve become one of those people that tells themselves ‘every baby is different’, ‘everyone deals with it differently’ or “it’ll all be worth it” to “it’s just one day, then you have a child for the rest of your life” when your ever so supportive friends respond to your news with ‘God, are you not freaked out at the thought of pushing it out?’
So recently, we kind of made the leap of faith into the unknown and officially started trying-I think? And it is a very weird feeling, unlike anything else I’ve ever felt before. Knowing that someone you love, loves you that much that they’re willing to do all of that to make you happy- to give you what you’ve always wanted is pretty amazing.
And you know what it’s also kind of a turn on too! (yea, no one’s ever told me about that part either! But according to Netmums it’s normal!- they say to just enjoy this time together which I’m happy to do).
And I feel like it’s bought us really close, despite being utterly nerve wracking- queue pregnancy test stick dropping down the loo all fingers and thumbs, shaking while waiting for the little line/s to develop (it didn’t, queue relief as I wasn’t ready for it to happen that quickly!)
It’s a very exciting, scary, yet very happy time (bar salmon angst- as Chris has dubbed it- the fear his salmons (sperm) doesn’t work).
Conception aka sexytimes!
I wonder will we be one of the lucky 30% who conceive in the first cycle? Or will we fall into the vast majority that are pregnant within the three months? I’m ok with either, it’s almost as if I just want someone to make the decision for me. At my age, from my research it says that we have a 40% chance of convieving in the days leading up to or on ovulation (down 10% pre-30 years old, wah!).
I’ve heard everything from “it happened the first time we tried, I just peed on one of those ovulation sticks” to “it happened much sooner than we expected, we thought it would take a year” and “it took us nine months, we were doing it at all the wrong times” to often the stories which aren’t as openly discussed.
The friend of a friend that kept putting it off, choosing a big holiday, brand new car or new sofa instead, who then ended up trying and failing their one attempt at IVF. Or the colleague you can’t help yourself but speculate over “I’m sure she said she was trying” that was the plan two years ago and she’s still sans-child, despite achieving all the grown up things you’re supposed to have achieved before having kids.
Consequently, I never thought I would share my plans; for fear of speculation, judgement, jealousy. But it was too much to keep to myself, classic Jo, choosing just a few to share my big news. But I will definitely be keeping my sex schedule from my mum, that’s for sure.
To be honest, as a youthful 27 year old, this wasn’t a question that I was expecting to have to ask myself. Up until the past year or so, I don’t think it crossed my mind once and why would it? As recently as two years ago, the main question on my mind was how I could better optimise my Tinder profile!
Thinking about it more broadly, I’ve only just been getting a good handle on looking after myself, so the prospect of looking after someone else is slightly intimidating. Plus, if I walk into a lamppost (it happens) then I might have a bit of a headache but I’ll get over it. If my future baby bashes its head into something then I might be condemning it to a life working in McDonald’s. I wasn’t in a place to be protecting myself and a baby against the hazards of the world, lampposts included.
Yep, after a brief 5 minute day dream, weighing up the pros and cons, I’d decided. I’m not ready at all and that thought needs to go back to the depths of my sub conscious, along with GCSE French.
Fast forward around 12 months and this somewhat worrying question had sprung out of my subconscious and Jo and I were deciding if now was the right time to start trying.
Now I’m a very logical person, most of the time, so it seemed like there should be a few criteria that we should tick off before deciding. I must add that these criteria are personal to me and you guys can have whatever criteria you want:
#1 Your Relationship – Do I See Myself With Jo Forever?
While a marriage is very much not forever, a child definitely is. A marriage can be annulled or you can get a divorce. In fact, with over 50% of marriages ending in divorce, is seems like it has become the social norm. I bet at the singles events for the over 40s, not having been married and divorced is probably a big red flag! Why haven’t you been divorced? What’s wrong with you?
Anyway, I digress. A child isn’t something to be annulled or divorced and I think that having a couple of stable happy parents is vital to any child’s development. Jo and I were both lucky to be raised in happy environments but you do see how it could have been different. Documentaries like Eastenders and Coronation Street really do open your eyes.
After a split second of deliberation, yes, I did see myself with Jo forever, onto the next criteria.
#2 – Do I Want To Have A Baby?
I guess for me, one of the most important clues as to whether I was ready for a baby was whether I actually wanted one. Until a couple of months ago I could have probably given you a long list of reasons to not want a baby but would struggle to cobble together a few reasons why I’d want a baby.
Now, the scales have very much tipped the other way. I’m at a different stage in my life. While I was never a party animal, I do now find myself longing for home comforts even more than I did in the past. Spending a night in watching some sort of David Attenborough nature programme while snuggled up on the sofa is my idea of a good night.
Rather than just being scary and intimidating, the idea of having a baby is now also exciting. It is still incredibly scary and intimidating, and that’s just Jo’s potential mood swings! But, it comes with so many more possibilities and the opportunity to share that experience with Jo. So, to answer the question, yes I do want to have a baby.
#3 – Are We Financially Secure?
This is one of the criteria that is more important to some people than it is to others. From my perspective, I lived a relatively spoilt childhood and I loved my childhood. I wouldn’t want my child to every have to worry about money and whether they could or couldn’t go on the school trip. I wouldn’t want them to be the kid to have the gadgets from 5 years ago or the coat with holes in. Or the holidays to Bognor!
I know this makes me sound like a terrible snob and perhaps I am but I just wouldn’t want my child to have to experience that. Kids can be brutal and if they have inherited Jo’s toes then they have enough on their plate!
While you can always be better off, we’re financially secure and would be able to cope with an extra one
#4 – Do We Have The Support Network?
What do I mean by this? I mean do we have the friends and family around us to help us through the inevitable ups and downs. Again, this is something that some people wouldn’t consider to be important and it isn’t really something that you are able to fix and work on. If your parents are naff then your parents are naff, you’re not going be able to turn them around.
Still, it is at least reassuring to know that both Jo and I have a great set of friends and family that will be able to help us through it all. I must admit, I am slightly concerned by how stressed and worried Jo’s mum will become but we’ll have to deal with that problem when we come to it. I also think there will have to be some kind of aptitude test for potential baby sitters. While some friends may be willing, they’re probably not as capable as you’d want them to be!
That’s it, those were my four criteria and we’d passed all of them. Even by working through the criteria, I’d been able to calm myself immeasurably. I always have to work through an idea and a change to then become comfortable with it. The idea of having a baby is still incredibly scary, the idea of trying and failing is somewhat nerve-racking and pregnant Jo is terrifying but at least I know we have a solid basis for wha