The least we could do for the women who reproduce the human race and nurture children in their vulnerability is to ensure that they are not hung out to dry alongside the muslins and babygros. We could recognise our interdependence and see that having children is not a lifestyle choice up there with keeping puppies.
On Thursday 2nd January 2014, when we had our twelve week scan for our first baby, I decided to take a photo every day. That's right. Every day. This new, wonderful chapter that I had dreamed of was about to happen and I was not going to let it pass me by. I'm not a massive fan of getting in photos but I knew that if I didn't do this, I couldn't turn the clock back.
New family. It's not what you lay in bed dreaming of when you were small and imaging how your life might be as a grown up. You don't ever really want to end up sharing your own children's weekends with another woman (or man) only linked to you by virtue of the fact that your former love has ceased to be yours and is now theirs. But that is how it is now.
Deleting the day from my calendar and staying in bed is appealing, but it isn't real life. I am finally at a point now that I can face these days with at least some kind of composure. Processing the grief of losing my babies and accepting that we would not have children has been a slow and heart-breaking process.
I'll hasten to point out that I don't in any way regret my decision to be a mother. This is not a "what a mistake" type thought. Indeed, I truly wouldn't have it any other way and if I went back in time I'd still have sex with my idiot ex-husband at the same time on the same day to make sure that the exact same little human was produced from that union. That doesn't take away my understanding however.
"You'll change your mind when you meet the right person." Words I have heard on more than one occasion over the past 25 years. Well-intentioned, perhaps, but wholly wrong. I'm now 38 years old, fortunate enough to have met the 'right' person and guess what? I still don't want children. The reason is pretty simple - being a mother would make me deeply unhappy.
This doesn't bode well for me. For, in order to be 'successful' I have to survive on five hours' sleep, do exercise at the crack of dawn every day, hold down a career, be the perfect wife (and cook) and all the while eating healthily. Apparently these are all traits/ways of living that successful CEOs and Mumpreneurs observe, so they must be on to something, right?
I am 37 years old. During my lifetime, I believed many of these things being said to me were compliments. I believed all the uninvited assaults and harassments were my fault. I believed that objecting to these assumptions about my character made me boring and unlikeable. The times I did speak up, I was silenced with five innocuous words. "Can't you take a joke?"
I have a mirror that my grandmother made, books that were my mothers, a cardigan knitted by my aunt. I have trinkets and jewellery, bits and pieces about the place, some with material value and others just sentimental, all of which serve to remind me of my past and where I came from, things which I keep mainly for their worth just to me.
BBC's drama The Replacement was a disturbing exploration of maternity leave that tapped into the fears of many mothers-to-be but also raised a number of questions around our biases and assumptions that impending and new mothers are not to be trusted and start to unravel the moment the two blue lines appear.
Sadly I hate to admit that it has been more women than men who have hit me with the type of comments above. But if we are going to continue to make our daughters stronger and our sons more respectful, us women need to stop the mum judgment and support one another now so that we can continue to have a choice in how we parent and live
Weaning off the breast doesn't have to be an all or nothing event and it also needn't be a conscious parent-led decision. If you and your baby are happy the way things are, then you may consider continuing to breastfeed until he or she decides that time's up and weans themselves naturally. On the other hand, if taking charge of the weaning process is the right decision for you, it's ideal to take it gradually and as gently as possible.
I never really thought of myself as someone who suffers from OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). I mean, I do weird things like never walk on the pavement cracks, run back to the kettle before it boils and clicks off and always have to beat the person walking behind me to the next lamp-post, but everyone does that right?