I was twelve when my grandmother asked, ‘Libby, darling, what do you want to be when you grow up?’
‘I want to be a single mother and travel the world,’ I replied, completely earnestly.
My grandmother dobbed on me to my mum who reminded me, once again, that if I was going to speak my mind to Nan, that I run it by her first.
I always envisioned having children in my life in my future, far more than I would ever imagine having a long term partner. I can’t explain why. I just don’t stick around very long.
Nan forgave me for my lack of eloquence, and anyway, she was far more concerned about how lesbians have sex. (Nan, rest her soul, was a beautiful, strong, intelligent business woman with a heart of gold and a curiosity of the world to match).
My first boyfriend was a guitarist and told me he would leave me if ever I fell pregnant. He was going to be a famous rock star and a child would ruin that. Last I heard, he’s in a growly metal band and they’re huge-ish in Germany.
Then I married a man. He was a gentle soul and we tried to get pregnant but we had no luck. We also had absolutely nothing in common and the marriage quickly dissolved.
My next serious relationship was with a man I was crazy about but he, too, didn’t want kids and threatened to leave if I fell pregnant. We had just turned thirty and I was desperate to have a baby. He thought a baby would ruin his life and stop his fun.
Ironically, he broke up with me because I had a huge night out with my best mate and didn’t get home until 9am. He said I was having more fun than him and he couldn’t handle that, and promptly put my furniture on the front lawn.
My twenties were ridiculous amounts of fun and I got up to all manner of mischief and mayhem but, even during that time, I always wanted someone to be close to and to start a family.
But now, I have met my perfect match in Matt. Both with a love of theatre, writing, music, socialising, mischief, travel and fun; he and I have the same vision of the future and I am excited about waking up in the morning because it means I get to talk to him.
He is divorced from a relationship that lasted almost two decades. He has young children and I adore them. He’s also keen for us to add to the brood and create a blended family.
I fell pregnant. I was beyond excited. We both were. Matt’s the love of my life; the only man I can imagine sticking around with, and we were having the baby I desperately wanted.
But something went wrong. I was in worlds of pain. The pregnancy had blocked my fallopian tube and attached to the outside of my uterus where it sat for 9 weeks decaying my uterus and causing pain and illness.
I had no idea. I was plodding along thinking pregnancy was painful and uncomfortable and that was my lot. But when I started bleeding, my GP told me it was probably ectopic and sent me straight to the hospital where I was subjected to painful tests and hours of waiting for a specialist who told me my pregnancy had caused serious damage to my body and I had to have emergency surgery. Immediately. My baby wasn’t a baby. It was a mess inside me that was slowly killing me.
My head started spinning.
No it isn’t! It’s my baby! It’s my future! This is my time to have a family and I have waited so long. I’ve been a good person haven’t I? Don’t good things come to those who wait? It’s because I went to the gym. It’s because I directed a Fringe show. It’s because I stole a packet of stickers from Erindale shops when I was 9.
I woke up in hospital the following morning minus a fallopian tube, part of my uterus and my pregnancy.
Just days before, I had given away my sofa bed and cleaned out the spare room for our child. A week before, I ordered a change table online, rubbing my belly and smiling because things were finally working out with me. The table arrived after my surgery. Matt has hidden it somewhere it won’t break my heart.
Friends came to the hospital and let me cry or feign happiness, whichever I could manage on the day, I guess. My mum cried at the hospital. Matt cried whenever I did.
Friends and family have visited and called every day. They’ve been sensational. I have met new friends through the secret club of ‘women who have suffered unspeakable loss’. You’d be amazed at how many of us there are.
Matt did everything for me in the weeks after the surgery, but mostly, he made me laugh. We laughed until we cried, and then we cried because we were devastated. But then we found something to laugh about again.
“You’ll be ok. You’ll have a baby later,” people tell me. Yes, they’re right. Eventually, I will be ok and I may be lucky enough not to lose the other tube to an ectopic pregnancy. I may be lucky enough not to miscarry. I may be lucky not to have my uterus rupture because it is missing a significant chunk. But the fact remains that I wanted this baby; the baby I thought I was carrying; the one I was excited about; the one I had invested in; the one I was planning a life for.
This is not a slur against people who are nice to me. I can’t actually believe how much love I have received. I can’t believe how many people have offered support, help, dinners, chocolate, cuddles, drinks and company. I know how hard it is to find the right words to say to someone when they’ve suffered a loss.
Bright side: I know I have some incredible friends. I am even more in love with Matt; we are closer now than we have ever been. I have a new strength to build upon. I have an appreciation for the billions of women who have or are putting on a brave face when they have lost a baby or, after such a loss, are struggling through the first trimester being told to relax, don’t stress but don’t get your hopes too high.
This is my story which I have chosen to share because I want people to know that being childless isn’t always a choice. In my case, I wanted a family but I didn’t have much fortune in choosing partners.
I want people to know that saying ‘You’ll understand when you have kids’ or ‘You have so much freedom because you don’t have kids’ or ‘You’ll never know true love until you have kids’ could very well be the most hurtful thing you could say to a person.
I have travelled the world. Not the whole world, but I will. And hopefully, that will be with my family. I think my Nan would have been happy with that. Sadly, she was in the secret club as well.