Every single one of us has a tiny, butterfly-shaped gland in our necks. Its role is to produce many of the hormones that make our bodies function, but when I was 25, I discovered my thyroid was under active. After a bout of panicked web searching (thanks, Dr Google), I found out that a side effect of my condition was possible infertility. I’d never say it’s always been my dream to become a mother, but I’d also never contemplated a future in which parenthood wouldn’t be an option.
I spent the latter half of my twenties with a fear of infertility – not ready to have children, but never too far away from the worry that it might not happen for me. Fast-forward to summer 2020 and my husband and I decided – mid-pandemic– that we felt ready to try for a baby. I was mentally preparing myself for many years of fertility-related heartache when I found out I was pregnant. Suddenly, my fears of infertility gave way to joy, yes, but a new fear: miscarriage. What if my screwed-up hormones couldn’t support our baby?
I found myself in a worry spiral, unable to say to my parents, “You’re going to be grandparents,” and holding back from buying tiny knitted booties for fear that my pregnancy would go wrong. The idea that I’d have an actual baby at the end of it all seemed unfathomable.
That was, however, until I spoke to my own mum. She could sense that I was being blasé to the point of negativity, approaching this foetus with unjustified pessimism. On the phone one day, she asked how I was feeling and I came out with my usual “Fine, yeah, just hoping things will be OK”. She stopped me mid-sentence. “They will be,” she said.
Everyone had said it – after all, it seemed no one but me assumed my pregnancy would go wrong – but I only believed it when it came from her. Kindly, she impressed upon me that I couldn’t see this pregnancy by default as something that would falter, but had to really step into the idea that I. Was. Going. To. Have.A. Baby. Empowerment is an overused word, but she made me feel optimistic for the first time in months. I’d never really thought about the role Mum would play as I embarked on my parenthood journey, but it turned out that role was critical.
For the first time, I could see myself nine months down the line with a baby. Of course, life can throw cruel curveballs, but assuming that they’re on their way was no way to view my daughter’s future. The next day, I went shopping. The idea of buying anything for her before felt like a curse, a sure-fire way to jinx it all.
Walking around the baby section of the department store, I was in a daze. Miniature cardigans, wooden blocks, dresses emblazoned with unicorns – they all seemed so alien to me. But Mum’s words rang in my ears. I pictured myself dressing my baby, and gingerly picked up some socks – a tiny orange pair embroidered with foxes.
My baby is due on Mother’s Day and – as you read this – I’ll probably be preparing to give birth. And the first thing she’ll wear(other than a nappy) will be those fox socks.
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