I was 42 years old when I gave birth to my son.
Why 42 years old?
There are several reasons:
- I only got married at 33 years old.
- I had a demanding career that involved lots of travel.
- We lived in South Africa and unfortunately, did not think it was a safe environment to raise a child.
- We eventually emigrated to Australia, which involved finding new jobs and settling into life in a new country.
Of course, there is never a perfect time to have a baby, but there was another reason I waited so long….I am not what you would call naturally maternal.
Do not get me wrong, I love children. I dote on my nieces and nephew. When they were little, I would have them over for sleepovers, take them to the zoo and the circus. They are teenagers and young adults now, and I still enjoy spending time with them.
I just did not have this overwhelming desire to have a child.
Until I turned the big 40.
Suddenly I worried I would look back on my life and regret not having a child. I know my reason for deciding to have a child may seem almost unnatural to some people. But my reason for having a child does not make me love my son any less, and I could not imagine my life without him.
So, there I was at the age of 40 trying to get pregnant with my first baby. Understandably at my age, this was not without some heartache, and after three miscarriages we decided to turn to IVF. I consider myself extremely blessed that after only one round of IVF, I was pregnant with my son.
When my son was around 18 months old, we decided to try for a second child, as I did not want him to be an only child. One of the driving forces behind this was the fact my mom was an only child and hated it. She would recount stories from her childhood about how lonely she was and how much she disliked going on holiday with just her parents for company.
Another reason was that as we had immigrated, and we did not have any family close by. I knew my son would not grow up surrounded by grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. He would not know the joy of large family gatherings and ultimately, I did not want him to be alone one day.
Unfortunately, after another miscarriage and five failed IVF attempts, I had to accept that a second baby was not going to happen.
I had to face the fact that my son was going to be an only child.
I admit it was tough.
I worried my son was going to be on his own one day with no siblings for support.
I worried he would not get to experience the joy of a sibling relationship.
I worried he would hate being an only child as my mom had done.
My husband, on the other hand, was more pragmatic. He pointed out that we had tried and told me our son would be fine. Part of me knew this was true, but it did not stop me from feeling guilty.
Not being able to give my son a sibling is the one thing I feel most guilty about. I have a close relationship with my brother and sister. Whenever I see siblings playing together, I feel that painful pang of guilt. I know my son will never experience the close bond; you can only share with a sibling.
My son is now seven years old; he has never once asked for a sibling.
In fact, he has told us many times that there is no way he wants a brother or sister because apparently, this would mean:
- He would have to share his toys.
- He would not get us (his Dad and me) all to himself.
- There would be a baby in the house crying all the time.
One day I will tell my son about how he was conceived and how we tried to give him a sibling. I try to focus on the positives, my son is happy, well adjusted, exceptionally bright, and has lots of friends who regularly come for play dates at our house.
As parents, we put way too much pressure on ourselves, we worry and feel guilty when we should not. And whilst I would not say I am entirely over all my guilt, it has eased. When I see his smile, hear his laugh or when we are dancing around the house together like crazy people, I am thankful for my little miracle.