Never ask a childless woman this question

As a teenager and well into my 20’s, my wish list for life read much like a fairy tale shopping list. Achieve dream job – check; buy a new car – check, travel the world – check, meet Mr Right (or at least Mr Right for Friday night) – check, and wear the latest trends – check. Fall pregnant – err, not so much!

So fast-forward 10 years and the irony of sitting in a fertility clinic was certainly not lost on me. After years spent going all out to avoid getting pregnant, now here I was, having met Mr Right (for all Friday nights), flicking through magazines of gazing babies. Babies that I was convinced, after a long period of trying, that I would never have.

I hate to say it but, when you have been fortunate enough to have gone through life and pretty much achieved and received everything you have ever wanted, never is there a truer cliché than ‘you always want what you can’t have’.

And, at that time, I would have happily given anything just to "have" a baby.  

Everything else I wanted prior just began to seem so, well … immaterial.

I would have worked for minimum wage in a dead-end job, not owned a car, never left my hometown and dressed in rags, if it meant that all of my previous wishes and dreams could be exchanged for the guarantee that I would one day hold my own child, rather than always everyone else’s.  

And trust me, everyone else was having babies … I swear! Or it certainly felt that way at the time. I just couldn’t avoid it! Every time I went out there were millions of waddling women EVERYWHERE. I saw women caressing their bumps and smiling dreamily as they stocked up on super cute outfits in Target.  I saw women asking for decaffeinated coffee at the café as they sat for a while and rested their swollen ankles and aching backs. And I saw expectant women sat at the park, on the train and in the street.  There was just plain simply nowhere that was safe. Nowhere I could go and not be reminded of the fact that I was not and, (in my dramatic state of mind) ever likely to be pregnant!

In fact, I wasn’t even safe online. Logging onto Facebook only resulted in making me feel worse as my news feed slapped me in the face with the announcement of yet ANOTHER friend expecting. And, of course, these announcements wouldn’t be complete without the obligatory collection of pictures now would they?


First comes the pictures of the scan, then the progressive pictures over the next six months of mum-to-be with her ever growing bump and, finally, the million and one pictures of the newborn once he/she has arrived.  There would be pictures with Mummy, pictures with Daddy, pictures with the dog, pictures with the cat.  There would be pictures of baby sleeping on his side, on his back, in a chair, on top of the dog.  Pictures of baby waking, on his back, in a chair, on top of the dog…and so it went on.  

Bitter? Me?  Well ok, maybe I was a bit. But let me tell you, there is nothing harder than attending your third baby shower in as many weekends and having to be all excited and enthusiastic.  Your smile does start to feel somewhat forced as you drag yourself through the next few hours, and your key objective becomes to, not only survive but, for as long as possible, avoid the inevitable question; “When are YOU going to have a baby?”  For you know that the minute you hear that question, it will take all your strength not to run away as fast as possible to the nearest corner, adopt the foetal position yourself and rock!

Fast-forward once again four years and, with the benefit of hindsight and a lot more sanity, I now know that the reality is that we were actually very lucky.  And I say lucky in that, not only have we been blessed with a beautiful and perfect little boy (yes, he takes after me!), but our journey on the IVF path was actually relatively short and easy in comparison to others. I regularly hear stories of women who have undergone procedure after procedure in their dreams of having a child and my heart aches for them.  I understand the pain and the daily mental and emotional anguish that they are going through and, while I know it probably won’t make them feel better, I would like to let them know that on the top of my current wish list is for all of those couples to have a child.

Jo Hartley is a mummy, freelance writer and blogger living in Sydney. When not writing, Jo enjoys eating chocolate, thinking about dieting, eating ice cream, pondering gym memberships and drinking alcohol. You can check out her blog here or follow her on Twitter at @hartley_jo