Family planning

How did you know you wanted a baby? One of the first questions that I used to ask people when they told me they were pregnant and one of the first questions I used to get asked when I was pregnant with Beatrice. It really got me thinking as to how did I know? For Jamie it’s always been quite simple, for as long as I’ve known him he’s wanted to be a dad. For me though having children was never really high up on my radar, I always had other priorities. Also anyone who knows me knows I’m not the maternal type. Of course I love my nieces and nephews, but I’m certainly not one of those people who sees a new baby and rushes over to be first for a cuddle. In fact when I shared the news of our pregnancy one of my sister’s said she wasn’t worried as Jamie loves kids and I can learn how to be maternal! Sure I wanted a family, one day, but there was always something else that I wanted to do first. I wanted to go on another lavish holiday. I wanted to be selfish and keep our relationship as just us two for a while longer. I wanted to climb the career ladder. It was never the “right” time.

So how do people know when it’s the right time to try for a family? How do you really know when to make the huge decision of stopping using contraception to try and bring another little person into the world? Well the contraception part was quite an easy decision for us. After moving house we never actually registered with a local GP and so when my contraceptive pill ran out, well that was that. We were basically just “careful” for a year or so, something I wouldn’t actually recommend to anyone who didn’t want to have a baby, but there we go.

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The million dollar question though is how did I know I wanted to start a family? It wasn’t seeing family or friends with babies, that never made me feel broody, it wasn’t a feeling of now is the right time, nor was it a feeling of now or never. It was actually a feeling of contentment that made me realise I was ready. Christmas 2017 Jamie and I made the decision to host Christmas at our house for the first time. So my mum, Colin and Jamie’s mum came down to stay for a few days. We had the most amazing time, just totally relaxed, with no agenda for their stay or for Christmas day itself, no places to be or people to visit. Instead we had a few days spending quality time together, sharing funny family memories, making memories and drinking a lot of champagne. We all just completely relaxed and got to enjoy being with each other. It sounds pretty corny I know, but usually our visits are very short and sweet as we all have to work during the week and driving 250 miles to see each other takes time, so that time together really felt different. That same New Year in 2017, we again hosted for my dad, Jackie, my sister and her partner. We again had a lovely few days with no agenda, other than meeting up with Jamie’s dad and Anna, eating lots of good food, drinking a little too much alcohol (Rachel of course) and having lots of laughter.

It was that Christmas and New Year of sharing memories and stories of our families that really made me sit back and appreciate the childhood I had. It made me think of how much fun and happiness (and arguments) I had growing up with my siblings. It made me appreciate our families and the time we all have together, and for some reason I could see clearly in my mind how easy and natural it would be for us to have a baby and how much love and happiness we could give to them. I just felt really content with mine and Jamie’s relationship, our lifestyle and our achievements to date. I even felt that with everything we still have left to tick off on our bucket list, we could just adapt those things to include children. It sounds a bit hippy and idealistic maybe, but it was that feeling of contentment that sparked something in me. And the rest they say is history.

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But what about now? How do you know when to try again after loss? There are so many different answers to this question as each family is completely individual and however each family feels is valid and their decision is right for them. I can only speak for myself and Jamie, and for us within 48 hours of Beatrice being born, we knew we wanted to try again. I know this sounds really soon and might seem quite shocking to read. Losing Beatrice just made us want a family even more than before as we then knew what we were missing. I remember our midwife coming round and saying to us that we shouldn’t feel guilty for feeling that we want baby so soon. After all we did get pregnant for a reason, to have a baby and raise that baby. Just because out baby died doesn’t mean that our dream goes away and it certainly doesn’t mean that we are trying to replace Beatrice. This would be impossible. I hope that anyone else desperately wanting a baby after experiencing a loss doesn’t feel guilty either, as only you know what you want and what is best for you. We also now want more children than we did previously, so we can have a loud, messy family. You know those houses you go to and it feels like a relief to leave as it’s constant chaos and you think how do they live like that all the time? That’s what we’re after, kids and dogs everywhere. Don’t get me wrong, the thought of getting pregnant again equally excites me and fills me with a lot of anxiety as we now know that pregnancy does not equal a healthy baby. But for us, giving birth to Beatrice and feeling that insane surge of love that you can only experience after having a child has just strengthened our dream of starting a family and bringing a baby home. Only this time round it’s not starting a family, it’s expanding our family, as our first child has already been born.

Lauren

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