My son Charlie is at the sweet age when he says some funny stuff. It’s astonishing the things that young children say but it’s only when you live with the running commentary of a little person that you appreciate the randomness of their thoughts.
“Do giants eat houses for breakfast?”
“Will I melt if I touch the sun?”
“Can you open me up so I can have a look at my bones?”
And then a couple of weeks ago:
“Daddy where do babies come from?”
Word. For. Word.
We both laughed and then it was silent.
Our parenting capabilities had just left the building.
I didn’t and don’t expect to be having this type of conversation anytime soon. Frankly, I thought we were a few years away from the birds and the bees and given the story of Charlie’s conception, our version will have a few amendments to it. Nevertheless, it made me think about what it is we will tell him when the time comes.
Listen: Mia Freedman is interviewed by her son, all about how she fared as parent: from teenage drinking, to the birds and bees. Post continues after audio.
It wasn’t hard to imagine because they are thoughts that are often part of my everyday thinking. IVF is only one part of my story but it has had an everlasting impact on me and so the memories are as constant as they are visceral. Here are the parts I would tell him:
- For a long time, I had this haunting fear that I would never have you. That I would never become a mother, that we would never meet. The fear terrified me and I felt a grief that consumed me. Every failed IVF made me feel like I was falling down a mountain.
- With every part of my being l was desperate for you and so I made it my mission to make sure it would happen. Whatever the cost, the sacrifice or the heartache, nothing was going to make me falter.
- Some would say you get your stubbornness from me.
- This obsession often made me a little difficult to live with; to be around. Your brilliant, wonderful dad kept it together for both of us. Mostly, I was a hot mess.
- It would take a lot longer than I ever thought and yet I wouldn’t change a thing. I discovered what vulnerability is and how it feels. I unlocked the true meaning of letting go and I learnt how to bare my soul. The pain kicked me to the curb and some days I didn’t know where I would land.
- You cost the equivalent of a house deposit.
- Actually, a bit more than that.
- This isn’t a story about a bird and a bee. There were much more people, a cast of thousands actually. The rolling credits would include the fertility specialist, his nurses, the embryo scientist, the acupuncturist, the naturopath, the psychic, the reiki healer, the spiritual healer (nope, not even kidding) the hypnotherapist, the other psychic (because I didn’t like the first one) and then of course there was daddy and then me.
- During a scan prior to “egg pick up” – so this is before you were even an embryo – my Dr took a look at “you” (as an egg) and said to me “I like the look of this one dear.” I swelled with pride.
- When you were just an embryo, I wrote a series of letters to you. I begged for you to stick around and I promised you that I would always, always love you and keep you safe. I wanted you more than I wanted to breathe and I wanted you to know this.
- My pregnancy was complicated and so were my emotions. At best, I am already a sensitive soul, but at worst I felt crazed. I was “high risk” and the phrase,“ threatened miscarriage”, which I heard far too often, threatened to crush me. Yet I felt like the luckiest person in the world.
- None of this is to make you feel pressured or obliged in any way. Just so you know. You are already everything. As a four-year-old, you think you are a superhero, but to me, you are enough.
- Just as long as you remember that along with Batman and Spiderman, there is also Wonder Woman.
- The moment you were placed in my arms is a moment that will forever be in my heart and mind. I couldn’t quite believe that you were mine. It was just like a dream, only it was real. I am certain you looked at me as if to say, “I’m here now.” You were so worth the wait, and then some. Everything suddenly made sense.
That is the story of where you, our baby, came from. It’s not the end of the story though, it’s just the beginning.