My second son Leo is almost six months old and he is a gorgeous squidgy-legged cherub. Every day I nuzzle him close to whisper in his ear that I love him. He is our much wanted ‘rainbow baby’, a child born after miscarriage and in our case, three miscarriages.
I am trying hard to appreciate the baby days second time around as I know how quickly time flies by. I love his smiles and I love the cuddles but the crying and the scheduling of naps and feeds or the hand-wringing over weaning and lack of sleep, drives me to look longingly at adverts for jobs, study options and day care centres.
My impatience to get to life’s next stage is exacerbated by the fact I have been thinking about babies, how to conceive them, grow them and raise them for the last eight years.
A few weeks after my 30th birthday, I put away my party heels as my husband and I began to focus on making a baby. At first it was fun, but after nine months it became a lot more like mission impossible. We got there eventually and my first pregnancy was relatively uncomplicated. I can’t say I enjoyed the weight gain, the sore back, the sickness and the tiredness but it was worth it when we welcomed Toby in 2010.
Following seven months of breastfeeding I had some time feeling like myself again before we re-joined the conception rollercoaster to create a sibling that ultimately took six years.
While I realise our story is not unique and that we have had some wonderful times in the last eight years, there has been a consistent focus on my monthly cycle and what I should be doing to get pregnant.
Eating right, staying healthy, exercising and then not exercising. Drinking and then not drinking, knowing when to have sex. Keeping my legs up, weeing on a stick, closely monitoring my mood and bodily sensations.
Our bathroom drawers have been filled with pregnancy tests, ovulation kits and bottles of folate for as long as I can remember. Each month I would look at my tampons and sanitary towels sitting alongside them and feel like a failure.
There were moments of hope and excitement when a period was late and then dashed when I felt that familiar pulling sensation in my womb and spots of blood.
There were the three pregnancy announcements coupled with the familiar feelings of nausea, tiredness and joy followed by crushing heartbreak as I went for the 12 week scans and learnt that the pregnancy had failed. There were the trips to hospital for three dilation and curettage (d & c) operations and the coming home and feeling empty and broken while wanting to try again.
In mid 2016 when I was pregnant for the fifth time, we decided that if this didn’t work, it would be the end of our fertility journey. We had both had enough and we felt old, sad and worn out with it all. I also wanted to stop putting off work opportunities or holidays because I ‘might be pregnant’. It was time to move on.
After a very anxious first two trimesters we were overjoyed that our little ‘last try’ stayed put and in February our beautiful Leo was born.
LISTEN: If you've got anxiety leaving the house post baby, Year One is the podcast for you (post continues after audio...)
Now six months on after the intense, sleep deprived blur of those newborn days, I feel like I am emerging on the other side of a battle, I am weary but also elated. I can sniff a little sense of the freedom that will come once I stop breastfeeding and I am excited for our future as a family of four.
Each stage of life has its complications, frustrations and joys and I know that moving into my forties and out of the intense ‘breeding years’ will hardly be carefree, yet I feel excited and curious about what the next phase holds. Not just for the family but also for me, to see what I can do and who I am now that our fertility roller coaster years are finally at an end.
Do you agree with Laura? Are you excited for your 'breeding years' to be over?
Want more imperfect parenting advice? Check out the This Glorious Mess podcast here.
To read more from Laura Jackel, give this a go.