Written by Kym
Words cannot explain the love I have for my precious baby boy. The greatest gift I have ever received! This is all down to a whole lot of love for his Mummy, and a little bit of science! Ok... a lot of science! After 6 years together my partner and I knew it was time to seek help in starting a family. We always day dreamed about what life would be like with a little version of us in tow. One day we put on our big girl pants and called the GP who referred us to our local fertility clinic.
The plan was always that I would carry and that my partner would too in the future. This plan came to a halt as a deterioration in my Fibromyalgia and PCOS meant it was going to be impossible for me to wean off my medication to be able to even attempt to ovulate! At the age of 23 I made the sensible, yet gut wrenching decision to not attempt to carry a child; my fibro was at such an unstable point that I refused to risk passing this condition onto any future children. I could not bare the thought of having my child feel a single ounce of the pain i go through daily!
After months of waiting we were finally seen at the fertility clinic where we discussed our options & decided upon IVF; In vitro fertilisation. We attended all of the appointments, counselling and group sessions. As the unbiological mama, it was often difficult to feel like I was ‘needed’ in the creation process; until the day we chose our donor. This was the point where we were able to match the donors characteristics to my own; finally a little bit of me was throw into making our future children! Well... at least allowing the chance for any potential babies to look a bit like me right?
Despite how hard we tried to keep me as involved as possible, it was a constant fight with my employer to be able to attend appointments together. You never realise how poor and unfair fathers have it when it comes to pregnancy and conception, until you have to beg your employer to be able to attend appointments and be able to take part of creating your future children. I had to beg and cry just to be able to use my lunch break to attend any appointments. When allowed, I then had to race and rush; using my lunch hour only, to get to, attend and then often I would have to leave before the appointment had finished. These were often always important appointments to either discuss the process or regarding medication; which was learning how to administer the injections. It devastated me to have to almost miss scans where we got to see the magic little eggs growing in her ovaries and hearing how big they were getting; sometimes it would be down to the very last minute before my employer would reluctantly allow me to go. They stole the only joy and magic I had available to feel and see, during the most important points of the process. I often broke down feeling like I was missing everything, and that i was useless in the process; I felt so often that she had gone through it all alone.
We were incredibly lucky and caught pregnant on our first try of IVF; with 3 beautiful “frosty babies” on ice waiting to meet their big brother! Even in this moment of sheer joy and ecstasy you can't help but feel uber guilty that it worked first time, when thousands of couples are still trying to this day. Work didn't get any better. I ultimately used all of my holiday days to be able to attend any scans or midwife appointments; They ruined our experience so much I even called in sick for some! They may have ruined our IVF for me, but they would not spoil our special pregnancy!
Our miracle baby was cooking away nicely! We decided to keep the gender a surprise and booked many private scans alongside the NHS routines scans. Looking back I think this was down to seeking reassurance that little Pip was ok, excitement that it was finally happening, and as a way of me being able to bond with the tiny squishy we had created. I lay on her tummy and spoke the her bump every night. I can still remember the first time we felt little Pip kick! Something we felt and experienced for the first time; together!
As you can tell by our grid, we are avid Freddie Fox and Co. (FFNCO) fans. I can hold my hands up now to say that I definitely overcompensated in the wardrobe department for little Pip! Maybe it was a way of bonding and feeling closer to the little squishy growing in their other mummy’s tummy and not mine. Was i filling the empty void in my own womb? Either way, baby was kitted out and ready and raring to get started repping for FFNCO. And then pop! Bang on due date; after a long walk round Tesco to stock up incase baby came that weekend, we returned home to a show! Not the “Greatest showman” kind… a show show! We called the hospital who advised us what to do and within 20 minutes her waters had popped as she can only describe as someone popping a balloon. It was show time!
Within 11 hours of her waters breaking and a traumatic ending, we were introduced to our bouncing baby boy! He was so tiny. My heart swole 10 times bigger and I just knew, this baby boy was my entire world! Isn't it fascinating how suddenly biology means nothing. How every ounce of your body is sore with pure love and protectiveness over a tiny little boy you just met! My boy! He had blonde hair, pouty kissable lips. 8lb 10oz of love and a hell of a lot of science, placed into your arms to care for until your last breathe on this earth.
Ollie was introduced to a family full of love and acceptance; for this we are eternally grateful. We had to overcome a few initial hurdles i.e. people referring to the donor as Ollie’s dad; no no no! But in time people learnt and understood the process and why donors are not to be called dad; it killed me to hear anyone refer to the donor as Ollie’s dad.
He is mine and his mummy’s, noone elses! Motherhood came very naturally to us both, we are super lucky that we agree on most morals and ideas about how to parent a child. We decided to bottle feed to share the load and caregiving in our own way; I have recently discovered this was also down to my partner’s fear of me feeling left out if she had breastfed. People finally stopped talking about and asking questions about the donor, however we were faced with a new comment.
“Who’s is he”? My response being of course “Ours”! “Yeah but you know what I mean who actually had him”? And oh, the dreaded line returns “who’s his donor”? Have you ever wanted to strangle a fully grown woman in the middle of mothercare whilst holding your precious baby? I have been close a fair few times. But seriously I am all for being open and honest about our IVF story, but when people ask such nosey, insensitive questions, they do not see the impact it has on the other mama. Me. They don't see the pain and hurt inside my chest when it makes you feel inferior or like you don't matter. Biology doesn't matter to Ollie, or us, so why the hell does it matter to anyone else?
Our stereotypical gender roles switched and as my partner returned to her job after just 4 months, I became Ollie’s primary caregiver and SAHM. I love being at home with my boy, watching his eyes light up with amazement when he sees something new for the first time. I loved seeing his firsts but also felt tremendously guilty that mummy was missing them. I felt guilty that she had done the hard work of producing our gorgeous boy and yet I was reaping the rewards and not her. Guilt grows like the roots of an oak tree if you let it, and it did with me. I felt guilty for being a disabled mama, and that I could not take Ollie to play groups or play areas every day like other mums. That I struggled to get him in and out of the car to leave the house until we just stopped going out. It wasn't until one of the lovely FFNCO mama’s was blunt with me and said she thought i had perinatal depression that I realised something was wrong. I sought help from the GP and a councillor and finally managed to break down these feelings of guilt; combined with the serious damage caused by such heartless employers, that I began to feel like an adequate mama.
Ollie was my saviour. His goofy, loving and cheeky personality made everyday worth getting up for; and still does, albeit it being the occasional 5am start. He is my comfort blanket in anxious situations and always lifts me up on a bad day. I won't lie, he’s bloody hard work; into and climbing everything and anything. But he was made for us. I was destined to be his mama, not ‘the other mama’ but his mama. I truly believe he was given to us to heal and save me. He made us the mamas we are today. Biology or not, mummy and mama love him with every inch of our lives. He adores his mummy and often waits for her by the door when she’s due home ready to play and show off what he has learnt to do that day. He loves his mama and loves the random things we get up to every day; especially play fighting and rough housing.
It makes my day when strangers comment on how much he looks like me, or when I notice an identical face that I pull. He has his mama’s appetite for good and tasty foods and will eat ANYTHING; unlike picky mummy. He’s a cheese lover like my grandad. Yet he adores the beach boys like his mummy’s nanny. It just goes to show, biology is only the beginning of our story! But everything else he gets from his mummy and his mama! Nature vs nurture… you decide!