Welcome to a new Mamamia series in which mothers anonymously confess to some of the aspects of parenting they can’t say out loud. If you have an Anonymum story of your own (anonymity guaranteed) email it to us at: [email protected]
Joanne* had 13 rounds of IVF before falling pregnant with twins at 45. Her sons are now 3 years old and she says she is shattered.
“The desire to have kids didn’t kick in properly for me until I was in my thirties and then I had to wait another couple of years until I met a guy I could imagine having a baby with. You know that saying, “how do you make God laugh? Tell him your plans.”? Well, that was me. Once we started trying, after years of worrying about contraception and having two abortions in my twenties….nothing happened.
This came as a shock because I just assumed when I wanted to get pregnant, I would be able to. We began IVF at the suggestion of my doctor after just 12 months of trying because she said I didn’t have time to waste. Especially if we wanted more than one child, which we did. A dozen IVF attempts later I would have been grateful for one baby because nothing seemed to work. It was rough on my body and on our marriage, which was still pretty new. And let’s not even talk about our bank account which was rapidly being depleted. We ended up having to re-mortgage our house after the 9th IVF that didn’t work.
So much crying – that’s my memory of those years. Anyway, after a couple of early miscarriages during IVF cycles three and eleven, I finally fell pregnant with twins when I was 45. We had to use donor eggs for the last eight cycles because mine were just too old and our doctor said we were literally wasting our money on IVF trying to make my eggs work.
IVF is terrific for your self esteem, have I mentioned that?
The pregnancy did feel like a miracle though and we were over the moon, both of us. The pregnancy kicked my arse but all twin pregnancies do from everything I read and heard at the time. When you're doing IVF, you're so focussed on the pregnancy that that feels like the finish line.
Then you're just so desperate to make it to a viable stage like 12 weeks. Every ultrasound where you hear the heartbeats of your babies feels like an incredible milestone. Every month you tick off the calendar is an inch closer to that new finish line of the birth. When you can hold your precious babies in your arms.
Except then you do and you realise you were totally kidding yourself about the finish line and you've only just got to the start. But you're exhausted from the nine months of pregnancy and the years of IVF before that and now you have the run the marathon that is being a parent.
Deb Knight did 14 rounds of IVF and then had a baby naturally. (Post continues after audio.)
Three years later, I'm honestly fucked. Sorry to swear but I can't find the words to describe my level of exhaustion. I thought once they started sleeping it would be better. Once they started walking. Once they could talk. But the problem is that you don't get a rest ever. The marathon just keeps going and going and going and you get more and more tired and you have to keep running and running until, I don't know, do you ever stop? When they're at school? At uni? When they move out of home? When will I get to rest? Can anyone tell me?
Because the other problem is that the older they get, the older I get too. I never really considered that during the years I was so desperate to become a mother. As my 30s ticked over to my 40s, it didn't occur to me that you get more tired as you get older whether you have kids or not. And when you do have kids - especially little ones - that tiredness is magnified a thousand times.
None of my friends who are the same age as me have little kids. They have tweens and teens and some have kids who are at uni and have their girlfriends or boyfriends for sleepovers. I honestly cannot imagine that. I will be 65 when my kids are that age.
My friends try to talk to me about things they've watched on Netflix or books they've read or holidays they've been on and I just look at them like they're speaking Swahili.
Scroll through to see some women who had children later in life. (Post continues after gallery.)
The mothers of my son's friends are all in their thirties. Some of them are actually 20 years younger than I am. They have so much more energy than I do. More patience too. I'm not sure if I'm going through peri-menopause or I'm moody and teary because I'm just so bloody tired all the time. And boys! They are just so active. My husband has a chronic back condition from an old football injury he got in high school and he's five years older even than I am so the brunt of the physical side of caring for the boys has always come down to me.
I mean, they wrestle with each other and stuff - thank God I don't have to get involved in that - but we live in an apartment and they just need to run and run and run. Like kelpies. If I don't get them out of the house by 7:30am every day of the week, they're climbing the walls. I can't remember the last time I got to sleep in.
Does this sound like a big whinge? I know it does and you're probably thinking that I should be grateful that I even have children after trying for so long and I am. I am. I really am. But it's hard to be grateful for something every minute of the day. Like, are you grateful that you can walk (if you can)? Do you walk around with that sense of gratitude and never complain about feeling tired because at least you can walk? I feel the same way about parenting.
I regret nothing about having my boys except when I had them. I feel like I could have enjoyed being a mother so much more if I'd done it earlier instead of feeling so resentful. Or does everyone feel like this sometimes? Are mothers of all ages exhausted and over it but nobody can say that out loud? That's why this feels like such a relief to be able to be honest without fear of someone looking at me like I'm a monster.
Is there anyone else out there who feels the same way? Anyone?
Thanks for listening anyway....
If you have an Anonymum story of your own (anonymity guaranteed) email it to us at: [email protected]
And if this article resonated with you, and you want to read more, stay with us:
- “I work with mothers who regret having children. This is what I tell them.”
- Why am I so tired? Everything you need to know about fatigue and how to handle it.
- ‘I had been exhausted for as long as I could remember. Then, I made the decision to see doctor.’