We’ve Reached The Climax of My Baby Making “Panic Years”

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I’m still here. And I’m still panicking.

A bit of a recap…

I’m doing all of the right things, according to me. The research, the difficult conversations, the prep. The things that lead to years of procrastination mind you, but I’m really taking this “conscious choice to become a mother…or not” quite seriously. It’s a serious thing, so I don’t feel too badly about it. But I’m in a bit of a major deadline-looming panic. I’ve mentioned before that the government in my country only pays for IVF up to a certain age. And I will soon be that age. Of course, my doctor is suggesting that I just bite the baby bullet and get on with it, but now I’m in this situation that I tried to avoid, but also actively pursued. I’m dating someone relatively new, and now I need to decide to have a baby with this gent, or to end things and choose the still not so easy route of single motherhood. Or, of course, letting go of the dream all together.

Let’s Talk

So I’ve opened up the conversation with my dude, and not surprisingly he’s responded with the standard guy mentality around these things, “We’ve only been dating a year. Why rush things? Things are so complicated anyway right now, shoudln’t we wait until life gets back to normal?”

For me the answer is “No”, I can’t wait for things to get back to normal. And if we’re honest, if it’s not this pandemic it will be something else. Life has a fun little game of throwing a bunch of curveballs at us at the least convenient times.

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Things You Should Never Say to Your Partner

Yes, that’s what I’m calling him now. Sometimes. When calling him boyfriend at our age seems silly, and until calling him partner feels a bit dumb. Further discussions with my partner lead to him uttering words that I wish I could unhear. Now keep in mind, we were having a very heated conversation and I’d had a bit of Gin to relax, which is never a good way to start such a serious conversation. I was being a bit unreasonable, a bit of a baby in terms of dealing with the situation, and he uttered the words that will haunt me for a while, “I’m not sure I want to have a baby…with you. I’m not sure you’ll be a good mother.” Sucker punch. Something I was not expecting to hear at all, and probably one of the cruelest things you can say to someone who, at the back of her mind, is always considering single motherhood as an option.

He of course apologized profusely. This was all new territory for him and I pushed things hard right out of the gate. I was slightly aggressive and he responded by being defensive. Unfortunately the words he chose were sharp as daggers. But I believe him. And he still wants to talk about it. He’s brought it up with his mother (she’s totally on board. Not that she needs to be, but it makes it feel less scary). And we’ve opened up the conversation in a less threatening and more collaborative way.

My Personal TikTok

Time is of the essence however. We are going step by step but the steps are coming quickly and I’m scared. We’ve both gone in for testing and really the next step is to engage in some thoughtful conversation (maybe steering clear of the subject of whether or not one should bring a child into this mad, overpopulated world) and come to some sort of decision. It isn’t going to be easy or perfect and I’m sure I will shed my fair share of tears, but I know we’ll be better for it in the end. Part of me just wants to drop the timeline of the IVF funding and just do things when they feel right.

I’ll update you on the decisions as they happen. Any tips out there for how to manage this kind of convesation effectivley and with kindness? Drop me a line…

Fertility Treatment PTSD and my Partner Box is Still N/A

Well I’m back on the fertility circuit. Making the call to the doctor that I went through egg freezing with launched me into part depression, part extreme anxiety, and it had me questioning if I even wanted to go through any of the treatments again. I mean, it was a lot. Sticking needles in your butt, hearing bad news about your fertility on the daily, dealing with a rollercoaster of synthetic hormones. I feel like that’s not actually the scientific way to describe it, but you’re definitely manipulating your body in a way that isn’t entirely natural.

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I’ve spoken before about how the government in my country pays for fertility treatments up to the age of 43. Being four months away from that led me to a bunch of sleepless nights, anxious and accusatory talks with my boyfriend, and a desire to reach out to my doc to find out if I could even get ahead of the line to get the free treatment. You see the government only gives out a certain amount of funding every year so there is a waiting list for the treatment. Most clinics operate under a first in, first out scenario. I specifically chose my clinic years ago because they consider other factors when deciding who gets the treatment next. A combination of when you come in for treatment, how old you are (i.e. if you’r about to hit the end of funding then you move up the list), and risk factors. I thought that this was an intelligent and kind approach to the whole situation.

A small part of me was hoping that the doc would say that it’s too late. Then I wouldn’t have to approach my boyfriend with the whole deadline conversation. If there’s one thing I know about men, it’s that they feel a little bit sorry for us that we have a biological clock, but they aren’t usually willing to take on the burden themselves. But when I did talk to the doc, she basically said, “Let’s do this. Now. Do you want me to talk to your boyfriend?”

Oi Vey, so I wasn’t going to be given the out. I was going to have to decide if I wanted a kid enough to try to get in under the wire and get the funding, which would require some difficult conversations with my boyfriend who definitely thinks that we have more time to decide. Or decide if I want to go it alone, or wait it out with my boyfriend and accept another the probability of another major outpouring of money at some point in the future when I most certainly will need some kind of assistance to get pregnant if that’s the plan.

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I had to fill out all the forms again like a new patient. And since I was deciding to start this process on my own and then talk to my boyfriend once I had all the facts, when I got to the section on my partner’s details, I had to enter in N/A. N/A as in I don’t have a partner who is with me on this journey. Who is as invested in the outcome as I am. And that made me so incredibly sad. I felt so alone. Again. I’ve spent a year with a a person who I still don’t feel will be as open to this as I am. I mean he hasn’t been thinking about it for the past 8 years like I have. A part of me wishes i’d just made the decision to go it alone, because now not only do I still need to decide how much I want a kid, I have to decide if I want it enough to potentially have to give up on a good relationship and partner.

I have a friend who is dating someone new, and he actually asked her after a month if she wanted to have kids, as he was hoping for some more. Part of me was so jealous that she had someone that she barely knew who was already planning this potential outcome for them. Another part of me thinks it’s kind of crazy and is happy that my guy is not rushing things and wants to be sure about it before moving forward. I mean he’s been burned before right?

In any case, I’ve set up my initial tests so I have a next step and I guess I’ll go from there. I’ve also set up some time with a therapist to discuss how to best approach the conversation with my guy. I’ll let you know how that goes!

She’s Running Out of Time (and Other Sh*t People Say About Women Having Babies)

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This is a tiny bit of a rant email. The last couple of my few and far between blog posts sang the praises of a podcast “To Baby, or Not To Baby” and while I still do love it immensely, I had to skip over a recent episode as it caused my anxiety to skyrocket. It was the episode where the star of the podcast, facing a potential “geriatric” pregnancy at 36 (while not even knowing if she wants to have a baby), goes into the clinic to check out her fertility. Throughout the podcast she shares all of the amazing things well-intentioned (probably) but totally ignorant people say to someone approaching the end of their fertile years (most of which I’ve heard a million times).

You’d better hurry up, you’re not getting any younger.

Did you know the chance of having a kid drop substantially after 35?

It’ll be really hard to take care of a baby if you start any older than you are today…

I have this one friend who almost reflexively throws out “She’d better start now if she’s thinking about it. Chances are pretty low.” every time conversation drifts to a common friend who is thinking about having a second kid. Despite me mentioning to her multiple times that saying these things to me, someone who doesn’t even have a plan to start trying at this point, is really hurtful and unhelpful.

People can be jerks.

Gold Medal for the Good Eggs?

Listening to this podcast made me feel calm and connected and safe. Until this episode where the host went in for her fertility scan. Her numbers were fantastic, and miles above what mine were at her age. Which immediately sent me into a tailspin of anxiety. Plummeting. The worst was that she was so overly excited about it. Almost like she’d done something right by having abnormally high numbers. I kind of felt like slapping a medal on her and calling it a day.

So I had to put up a boundary and skip past the episode entirely. Feeling like I’d failed somehow because my ovaries weren’t spitting out bunches of healthy eggs to develop into follicles.

And it reminded me of how cruel this whole conversation is to women. How unforgiving. If our bodies malfunction and develop a disease, no one really blames the host. But with eggs, it’s like we’re somehow damaged if we can’t do one of the main things our bodies were designed to do, simply by virtue of the fact that we’re ageing, and not lucky enough to be in a situation where we feel comfortable taking the plunge.

I know we’re not meant to compare any part of our lives with others. We all know there are so many contributing factors to all of this. But it just made me feel like a BIG FAT FAILURE .

Change the Conversation

So I’d really like to propose that we all just STOP.

STOP talking like it’s some big accomplishment to have good eggs. Be sensitive. Can you imagine talking to someone who has a disease and exclaiming with joy “Thank goodness I don’t have that disease and my body is performing well!” We can be grateful for this, but the whole celebratory “in your face” attitude around fertility is a bit much. Because it inadvertently shames women who are struggling in this area. It’s what causes all talk of fertility to continue to hold a bit of a stigma in many cases.

STOP telling women they should hurry up. Sharing stats and opinions. We all know this sh*t already. It’s literally top of mind for a large percentage of women in child-bearing years and we’re not idiots. We read. We know. We hear the clock. So honestly, and I’m not normally so harsh but, shut the f#$k up!

It’s not an easy decision to have kids, especially if you’re not in a partnership that is generally heading in that direction. It’s a complex decision (or at least should be) for most people contemplating bringing a child into this imperfect world, so let’s just talk about it with a little more compassion.

New Year, Same Pressure: To Have a Child or Embrace a Child-Free Life?

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Holy Man. Decision inertia has become as much a regular part of my life as my online shopping trigger finger during this pandemic (someone needs to take my PayPal away). I can’t help but think back to that terrible therapist’s comment that “maybe no decision is a decision” and wonder how many more days, months, years I have before my lack of decision turns into a “no” without my consent.

When does No Decision Become a Decision?

It’s a new year, and also the same old story. I said that I’d make this kid decision by last July, but then all of the fertility clinics had closed and I’d met this new guy, and I gave myself (another) grace period. Because…well…COVID (this time). I honestly thought that surely this whole mess would be over by the new year, and that would be my last chance to decide. The last opportunity before my ovaries, or the government pulled the plug (they only pay for one round of IVF funding in Canada up to a certain age, dangerously close to my age today). But then a family health emergency happened, and I found yet another excuse. Mind you, a really good excuse, but nonetheless. You’d think at this stage, my refrain would be all: I made my decision, let me just deal with this and the lockdown…and, and, and.. I’ll be in the fertility clinic before you know it. Or my boyfriend would decide to come along with me for the ride (if that’s the decision) and I’d be on my way. But I have’t even finished the course I started in July that was supposed to help me figure it out. The one I said I needed to finish before I made a decision. I keep putting all of these roadblocks in the way of actually making a decision, and I’m truly questioning the functioning of my intuition at this point.

Which Path Do I Want to Take?

I will say, that things have gotten pretty good with the boyfriend. And I do look at him and think about how much “fun” it would be to have a child with him. Immediately followed by a million worries about having a kid with someone that I’ve not even dated a year at this stage, etc. But for brief moments, either drunk on love or red wine, or just in rare moments when my desire for connection and attachment outweighs my fear of commitment, I look at him and think “Yeah, that’s the stuff. That’s what I’ve been looking for.”

But then, I listen to my favourite podcast To Baby or Not to Baby (brilliant) and they’re interviewing a super cool woman in her 70s who decided she didn’t want kids at a young age, at a time in history (not very long ago) where she got death threats for announcing this on TV (the pronatalism community being so fiercely strong and horrible at the time). I mean if you want kids, amazing. If not, also amazing. We honestly don’t need more kids in the world at this moment in time, we can barely manage to stay healthy as a population and not burn up as a planet as it is.

But back to this woman. She has had a life full of love and mentorship and travel. So much travel. And I can definitely envision this being one of my potential futures. She described her life as one of unlimited possibility. And it all sounded very lovely, and meaningful. One thing she did talk about was how people thought she was selfish for not having kids. I’ve heard this a lot, and I find it to be bollocks. Most people I know have kids for a million different reasons, and some of them have actually admitted to me that they’re having kids so they have company and someone to look after them when they’re older. The natural order of things. What is not selfish about that?

Smells Like Teen Spirits (AKA Hormones)

Another thing she mentioned, when asked how one was to decide whether or not to have children, was to try to spend some serious time, not just an hour or two here or there, with a kid. Really see what it’s like on a day to day basis. But the pandemic has sort of taken that opportunity away from me. I do of course spend time with my boyfriend’s kid. But she’s 15, and let me tell you, I’m really struggling. I don’t think that’s the age this woman had in mind. I mean our relationship is “fine’ now, which is a blessing (I’ve shared some of my early struggles with dating a guy with a teenager here and here). But as I’ve said before, I don’t think any parent really looks forward to the teen years. It is arguably the age when most humans are at their worst.

I am running out of time and feeling the pressure. Usually at the end of a year I give myself a bit of a break on all of the big stuff, saying I’ll tackle it when the clock strikes midnight on day 2 of the new year (day 1 is reserved for pizza and hangovers). But that makes January a very stressful month.

I’m going to try to give myself a break and get through the family stuff in the short term. Really hoping at some point it all just clicks one way or another!

How is everyone else doing this new year so far? Pressure-filled or peaceful?

It’s a Christmas Miracle…the Neighbour I (Stupidly) Dated is Moving Out!

It’s been a while since I’ve commented on the ill-conceived moment in time when I dated my neighbour. My much younger neighbor who had sex with someone else, while we were dating, in a bed that banged up against my very own bedroom wall. I haven’t felt safe or comfortable in my apartment since. The same neighbor who said he didn’t want to get “serious” as quickly as I would need to have babies of my own, but who has been dating a girl very seriously since.

But this morning I woke up to a lot of hustle and bustle in the hallway. And I started to hear pretty loud, echoing voices coming from that same dreaded connecting wall. For a moment I had a panic that maybe his girlfriend was moving in. A quick call to my superintendant confirmed that he was indeed moving out. Hallelujah.

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I immediately felt this giddy joy. Like my home could be my home again, and I wouldn’t get that little rush of anxiety every time I left my apartment at the risk of maybe running into him. And then a wall of sadness hit. It’s brought up a lot up of unresolved feelings that I believe you’re always left with when someone else is the one who leaves. The rejection, the insecurity, the “what ifs” linger a lot longer when the choice is not yours. It’s left me with this sort of sad, lonely, time-is-moving-on feeling. Once again comparing my life to someone else’s. Imagining that they have it all figured out and are moving forward while I’m stuck in the same place. I guess I’d always hoped that I would move on, or out, first. It’s a weird feeling of being left behind.

But I have to trust that I’m on my path. That it is all for the best, whatever has happened and whatever comes next. No one has it all figured out, that’s the biggest lesson of life. There is really nothing to figure out, beyond the fact that we only have this moment…and the next one is not guaranteed.

So I’m going to try to relish in the joy of this moment.

Here’s to reclaiming the side of my apartment that always felt a little off-limits without a lot of background noise, for fear of hearing a banging headboard against the wall. And to breathing a lot deeper in my own space again.

Still working on my “to baby or not to baby” question. Finishing up the course and listening to the podcast and heading back to the doc in the new year to see where things are at. I’ll keep ya posted!

To Baby or Not to Baby?

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Thought, despite my break, I’d pop in for a quick post as I’m totally and completely smitten…with a podcast.

While I’ve been taking some time to re-establish my relationship after all of the trauma and PTSD from the issues with his kid, I’ve also been focussing on the key question at the root of all of my life’s anxieties right now, whether or not I want to be a mother. Being in a relationship that is probably too new to contemplate children, and understanding that I might need to make the decision to go it alone or give up altogether, sends me to a bottle of wine on more days than not.

But there has been one really bright spot in my “work” to figure all of this out, and that’s the podcast “To Baby or Not to Baby.”

Holy man has this podcast been a godsend. It’s hosted by a woman (Naomi) who is unsure as to whether or not she wants to have a kid. So, obviously, she starts a podcast to figure it all out. Kind of similar to some people starting blogs to do the same thing, wink wink. She just happens to be a lot more successful than I have been in her reach, and it’s no wonder why. The podcast is really something special.

She talks to every kind of mother, non mother, wannabe mother, never moms, regretful moms, IVF moms, the list is long. And somehow every guest is so freaking incredible in their brutal and fantastic honesty, their life stories, their humour, their accents (honestly as a Canadian there is no British accent that doesn’t appeal).

If you are at all contemplating whether or not you are meant to be a mum, this podcast is so comforting. To hear accounts from every possible scenario is so helpful and listening to it really makes me feel like whatever decision I come to, it will somehow be alright. In addition, I’ve taken away so many other great life lessons from the struggles of these women (and one man I’ve heard so far). Lessons like:

  • Life is too short for overanalyzing and worrying about every small decision (in this case it was about what baby carriage to purchase). The recommendation being to just stop worrying and go for the recommendation.
  • Your instinct is usually right.
  • Sometimes the “hole in your soul” isn’t best filled by a child.
  • There are many ways to be a mother in this world.
  • A child only needs one person to love them, and they can be a success in life.

And those are just the one’s that come to the tip of my tongue in writing this.

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Their stories are hopeful and heartbreaking and endearing and just lovely. And they’ve given me some validation for the fact that this is no simple decision, for anyone really. The decision, the pressure, the expectation, the unknowing, the uncertainty. It’s a lot.

I feel so calm after listening to the podcast (despite often ending up in tears) and I really recommend it for anyone still struggling with the decision. I definitely wish I was one of those people that was a “hell yes” with regard to wanting to become a mum. And I definitely feel like if I was younger and had met my person and wasn’t going to have to contemplate being a single mother AND a geriatric mother, I would’ve been. But I have to believe that I’m in the place that I’m supposed to be in right at this moment. It’s really the only way to proceed in life without losing your mind (IMO).

At the end of the podcast, the host shares her current “percentage” yes/no on whether or not she’s leaning towards taking the plunge into the world of Teletubbies (is that still a thing?). I think right now I’m still a 60/40. Still lots of episodes to go.

As mentioned I’m also doing this course, “Is motherhood for me?” and I’ll talk about it when I’m done (they suggest not talking about the course while you’re doing it to keep the focus on how you’re feeling about everything). There is one mantra they share, however, that I find helpful, really for any situation in life. And that’s “It’s okay to not know.” It is okay, to not know. It’s okay. You’re okay.

I Almost Fell Into the COVID Break-up Timeline Because of My New Guy’s Kid

And Now I Need To Take a Break

I read an article recently predicting that a lot of relationships that started when COVID hit will now come to their natural conclusion. The novelty has worn off and real life comes crashing in as things open up. You’re trying to figure out your new normal, which is frustrating, scary, depressing and dull on a lot of days. And you’re also trying to figure out if you really work as a couple in this new weird world. Do you get along with their families? Do your new schedules mesh? Do you enjoy real-world things together as much as hunkering down and exploring a new relationship during the exciting and terrifying time of quarantine, which produces a bit of an “end of the world” feeling?

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

For me, the most difficult thing to process while moving into this next phase has been accepting that at some point our little relationship bubble will need to include “the daughter”. This thought sends me into pure panic. After our disastrous camping trip I realized that the only way I could continue dating my dude, was to compartmentalize and almost pretend that she didn’t exist. At least for a little while while we solidified our bond. I just couldn’t see how it would all ever successfully merge. I couldn’t envision a time in which she would not be a third wheel in our relationship, and vice versa for me in their family.

But I was open to slowly re-introducing ourselves when it made sense, which ended up being for my dude’s birthday. And man did things go south. We had an extremely bad evening and it was really shocking for all of us. She was in a terrible mood and lost her cool. I lost my patience. My dude had no idea how to handle it all.

I read a bunch of articles the next day on how to deal with a moody teenager, and I had basically done everything wrong. Not entirely my fault, as I am of course not a parent of a teenager so can’t really be expected to know these things. But nonetheless. I made these mistakes:

  • I took her mood personally.
    • I guess their hormones are raging and they have no idea how to make sense of things and aren’t really behaving in a way that they want to.
  • I asked her direct questions related to her mood (and related to life in general which apparently is a bad idea when they are in a bad state).
    • Drawing attention to their less than ideal state only adds fuel to the fire. And questions can feel like an attack.
  • And I got frustrated with her.
    • She was terrible. But I’m the adult. I’m meant to have some space and reason to just let it go (please tell me when I will catch up mentally and emotionally to where I’m meant to be as an adult!)

All classic mistakes.

My dude and I had to take a weekend apart to sort through what had happened. There was no communication and I was mess. We both thought the other was over the relationship. Apparently he spent the weekend preparing for the end, while I spent the weekend crying and grieving over its probable end. Missing him, feeling like a tool for ruining things yet again, and feeling quite hopeless. You see, I truly feel (no pressure lol) that this relationship represents my last opportunity to meet a guy that I might actually have a child of my own with. If and when it ends, time will have run out. I will either need to decide to go it alone or accept that it will likely not happen for me. This was a much bigger grief. While we ultimately decided it was just a bump in the road, it’s left me with a lot of anxiety and I’ve gone into meltdown mode.

At the start of this pandemic, I was totally in support of those memes that talked about how we’re not meant to have accomplished all of our life goals during this trying period, and that we need to give ourselves a bit of a break. But I hadn’t really listened and I’ve been trying to do too much. And it’s lead me to shut down.

So I’ve decided I need to take a tiny pause on a bunch of things to get my head and my life sorted. To figure out how I’m feeling about everything and what my next steps are. For the next little bit I’ll only post if it’s being used to sort things out in my brain. Writing is good for that. Hopefully I’ll be back refreshed and ready to tackle all the things.

Hope you are all giving yourselves the self care and the permission to take a rest as well. This is not an easy time!

How do you Date Someone With a Teenager…Without Losing Your Mind?

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Photo by Henry Be on Unsplash

I’m trying to get all of the summer stuff in before we have to go back inside for the season. Which is why I’ve been so bad at posting, and contemplating big life decisions, and all of that. There will be time, I suspect, that I need to fill indoors. So hopefully I will catch up.

Anyone else feel the impending doom of fall? Normally I’m one of those folks who love the crisp air, pumpkin festivals, hot cider, and not having to showcase my not-so-toned arms in tank tops, or melt all day in the sun. I don’t even hate winter, which in Canada is a real force. Hibernating inside with friends amidst glowy lighting and a warm meal in the lead up to my favourite season, twinkly light season, is the best. I get very “Hygge” about it and want to be all cozy.

But this year is of course much different. Fall will mark the end of the ability to easily distance visit with people that are not in your pandemic bubble. Which in my case in a pretty serious deal. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve had to make the hard choice between continuing to pursue this new relationship, at the cost of being able to spend up close and personal time with my family. You see I have a baby niece and my sister and her husband land on the conservative side of COVID safety. This means that I can’t see my parents closely either, as they are in that bubble. Which has been hard as I’m someone who still likes to go and stay with the ‘rents for a few days every month at least. As my new beau has a child, who has a mother, who has a boyfriend, who has kids of his own, my bubble is big not by my own choice. But so many people are in this situation. Families are not small and uncomplicated anymore. And that doesn’t work well for a pandemic.

Don’t Count Those Eggs Before they Hatch

I was feeling good about the whole boyfriend sitch and feeling less icky and weird about the fact that he had a kid. As I mentioned in the last post, I totally killed it at the daughter interview. But then…we went camping.

If I can offer one piece of advice to anyone just starting to date a man with a teenage daughter, the very last thing you should be doing on a second meeting, I mean the very last, is go camping. Just saying that out loud, it seems ludicrous in retrospect that we thought this was a good idea. But when we were first talking about the whole situation, it seemed pretty safe. It was a family and friend’s trip and there were over 20 people going. I imagined us all arranged around a central location and there being lots of milling about as people went about their daily activities. Instead, because of the newfound popularity of camping due to the pandemic, all of the camp sites for the group were spread out across the campground, and it was just the three of us playing an awkward instant family. No one wants to go three days without a shower, in a rainy campground, not at their best, with new people. It’s just, plain, uncomfortable.

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Photo by Tim Foster on Unsplash

The whole thing felt like a bad dream. I wanted to jump ship. His daughter was…a teenage girl. Moody. Complaining constantly. Asking to go home every 5 minutes it seemed. Wishing she were with her friends. Constantly asking to use the WIFI in the car. Pouting all day long. I was losing my mind. I thought “I don’t want this” “I didn’t sign up for this”. Upon later discussion, she was feeling the same way. It was too soon, and she was overwhelmed (which in my case doesn’t totally make up for her behavior, but I’m not the parent of a teenager so I guess I don’t really have the experience to say that).

It all sort of reminded me of a boyfriend I once had who jokingly said “the complaints department is closed for the day” every time I got a little whiny. But this girl made “I’m just heading to the bathroom” sound like a whine. It was a pervasive tone that actually made me feel so anxious that I felt nauseous and then depressed. Is this something I really want to take on? Again, as I’ve said before, if it’s your kid, its a phase. You love them anyhow. But when I have nothing vested in this person, all I see is this side. And that’s hard to want to be around.

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So that whole trip left me with all of the wrong feelings. The insecurity. The “what am I doing” and “what have I gotten myself into”. I’ve managed to convince myself to take a breather. To understand that maybe we all jumped the gun a bit and need to take it a step back and re-evaluate later. But it really threw me for a loop.

This stress, and the wanting to enjoy every last minute of nice weather, has once again forced me into procrastination mode on the whole motherhood decision (and on just about everything else). The lack of motivation is strong. Adulting is quite hard sometimes.

Anyhow, me and the boy are going away just the two of us which I really need to remind me of the good stuff. To grab back that magic from before my head came in and snuffed out all of the joy. As one of my favourite writers Marianne Power mentioned in one of her recent blogs, I’m going to focus less on “how I’m doing” and more on “what’s good”. See ya in a week or two. Get outside!

So You Aced the Interview With Your Boyfriend’s Kid. Now What?

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Image by Jennifer Regnier from Pixabay

Well the moment of truth arrived the other day. I met the daughter, and it’s probably the most nervous I’ve been in a long time. Sort of a combination of an interview and a date, with a little “I don’t know what the frig I’m doing or what I want!” thrown into the mix. It felt so surreal to meet the offspring of the person I’d been spending all of this time with.

We met for dinner. I was already quite buzzed off of a half bottle of wine. Nerves shot. She was ethereally beautiful and so quiet and shy. So I went on the offensive with charm and questions and did my best to be both interesting and interested. We ate, I drank some more. It was all very sweet and proper. At the end of the meal she left to meet her friends and I heaved one big sigh of relief. The feeling of release was intense and I felt like I’d just been through something really big and monumental.

I looked over at my boyfriend and he said reassuringly “that couldn’t have gone any better,” and gave me a big hug. He pulled back and I could see tears in his eyes. “Sorry, I’m just a bit emotional,” he replied. “That was a really big deal for me.” And we hugged again and got all goopy and it felt warm and squishy and special.

I got home later that night and was on a huge high. I’d passed. Approved! I am a perennial people pleaser and I felt like I’d aced the interview. Made the grade. And it felt amazing. Forget what I thought of anyone else, they liked me. I was accepted and therefore a-ok. It’s an addiction, this people-pleasing high.

When the “Approval High” Fades

I woke up the next day with a similar feeling of warmth, but I could feel a trace of that good old anxiety bubbling up from the depths. I wanted to hold on to the good vibes, but my head came in and filled up every warm spot with questions and worries and what-ifs. What if I don’t even want to help raise someone else’s kid? If I decide I don’t want a kid, do I want to be with someone who has one? Or do I want to flit about with someone who is equally fancy-free? 

And on and on. My worries ranged from practical to totally ridiculous projections of a future I have no way of predicting. And it took away all of the joy. My roller coaster of emotion was back. High highs and feelings of connection and “this could be it” to low lows of “what the heck am I doing? I’m messing everything up as usual.”

Be Kind to Your Patterns

I know all of this sounds like I have some pretty deep-rooted insecurities. But I think (and my therapist agrees ;)) that it’s all a pretty normal response. As is usual in life, it’s what you do with those initial responses that determine your maturity and ability to handle what life throws at you.

My anxiety response is just my familiar pattern emerging. Big positive event happens, thoughts come in and drench all the good feelings. Someone shows me they’re committed (hello Facebook relationship status change), and I think of all the people I’m missing out on committing to. What if? How come? Is it okay?

Our patterns come up for a reason. They were developed to protect us during moments in our past when we were hurt. It all goes back to that fight or flight response to threatening situations. The patterns are sort of your boxing gloves or your plane ticket. The best thing to do is to try to be aware of when these patterns come up, acknowledge them, and then just let the feelings/thoughts/patterns pass.

Breathe Through the Discomfort

A friend gave me some good advice the other day, which was to just breathe through it. Breathe through all of the crazy thoughts that come up and try not to sabotage the relationship by letting them take over.

There’s a part of me that wonders why I’m going through all of this. The single life in some ways seems so much easier. It’s familiar. But there’s also a part of me that knows I want the connection. That loves having someone that cares for me and vice versa.

But the steps towards getting to true intimacy are incredibly scary to me. What if I get hurt? What if it all goes south? What if it’s not what I really want in the end and I’m wasting time? There’s no way to know any of this for sure. So I just need to trust that whatever happens, I’ll be okay. Here are some other tips and tricks for working through this kind of anxiety:

  • Stop looking for reassurance from others that it’s all going to be okay. It’s only how you feel that matters in this instance.
  • Be okay with not knowing, and trusting that you’ll be okay regardless of what happens.
  • Move forward despite your fears when there are more good things going for a situation than bad. The only way to see what’s on the other side (radical intimacy, family, support, love) is to get through the tough bits that challenge the life you know (you know, that single life you always say you want to move away from).
  • As mentioned above, stop pushing against your natural tendencies and patterns. When you do that, you’re actually cementing the pattern, instead of just seeing it for what it is and letting it pass until new patterns are developed.
  • Be compassionate with yourself. Let it be okay to have all the anxiety.  Another good acronym to get through all the anxious feelings is RAIN.

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Maybe this relationship is going to be the one that makes me a couple. That gives me my extended family. Or maybe it’s just going to be a stop on the way to figuring out what I really want. There’s no way to know…today. So I’m just going to try and enjoy the moment! And wade through the thickets of anxiety, head held high.

Any tips and tricks you can share for dealing with relationship anxiety?

Is Motherhood Actually “For Me”?

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Photo by Bethany Beck on Unsplash

I was sitting in my therapist’s office over a year ago, talking about the same old thing,  How the heck am I going to make the decision to have a baby on my own?

Instead of giving me tools or help in making the decision, she provided me with the following gem of advice:

“You know, I see a lot of patients who regret having children. They don’t talk about it too often outside of the safety of therapy, but the number of people is surprisingly high.”

She then went on to talk about the resentment that many feel towards their children for the time taken, money wasted, lives monopolized. Or frustration that the children didn’t behave in a way congruent with their reasons for having a family (e.g. they move far away and never visit). I know this isn’t a popular thing to talk about, but apparently it’s a real struggle for a lot of folks. People often fall into parenthood as the path of least resistance and can come to regret the lack of thought put into the decision.

This is why I truly believe that if you have any seeds of doubt, you take the time to sort it out, instead of just romantically leaping forward with your “one true love” into what seems like the logical next step.

Sometimes a Non-Decision Becomes a Decision

For me, Original Baby Decision Day is approaching quickly.  And even though I gave myself a reprieve on making a decision right now, given the circumstances of the world we’re currently living in. I can’t help but feel the panic rise up. I don’t feel any closer to making a decision. And there’s a part of me that fears I never will, and that that non-decision will become my ultimate choice.

So I decided to look into some of the resources a good friend sent that she used to determine her motherhood desires. There are surprisingly few resources (though growing) for a topic that is such a big deal in so many people’s lives. For a long period of time, the decision was just a matter of “what’s next” in life, and many people sort of fell into motherhood as the next step in their journey into adulthood. I mean societal expectations support it, religion supports it, pretty much everything points to this as being the natural next step for a woman. And while things are changing and it’s becoming more acceptable to decide to not have kids, it’s still bucking the trend a bit, and requires answering the questions “Do you have kids? Are you going to have kids? When are you having kids?” on a pretty annoyingly consistent basis.

Motherhood – Is it for Me?

The course recommended is delivered by a parenthood indecision therapist, Ann Davidman, who also has a book entitled: “Motherhood — Is It for Me? Your Step-By-Step Guide to Clarity”  A bit of a testimonial for the process can be found in this article: Washington Post article on parenthood indecision therapists

I’d already read the book, Choosing Single Motherhood, and it was a good collection of things to consider, but in the end made me more stressed out about the whole thing. It piled up a list of things that I needed to figure out or to consider, without getting to the root of what I actually desired.

Ann Davidman’s course and book was recommended as it really focuses in on what you, at your core, truly want. The course itself is offered a number of times a year, but the cost was a bit prohibitive for me. So I decided to purchase the book and do the course on my own.

I’ve just started and so far I’m sold. The book suggests that you take twelve weeks to complete the course, to give yourself the time needed to actually process the exercises and visualizations that you complete. I love this idea as I tend to rush through self-help books and am no farther ahead in the end, as I haven’t really “felt” the recommendations.

The book also advises that you don’t discuss what’s coming up for you with anyone while you’re completing it. Which takes out the ever-present consideration of the noise of other people’s desires and expectations. I’m definitely impacted by my friend’s comments about their motherhood experiences, good and bad.  But this course is really about you and your desires. It’s suggested that things might get a bit uncomfortable, and that clarity might not come immediately, but to follow it through to the end regardless.

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So this is my next step. I figure the timing is good. I can continue to follow the path of getting closer with my dude over the next three months, while I give myself the proper time to really sit with my feelings about becoming a mother. In some ways, this is a gift. When I was younger I was so sure that I wanted to be a mother, and the fact that there’s some doubt there now (granted it’s mainly doubt related to the frightening thought of doing it alone) means that there’s something there to explore. Had I just gone ahead and had a kid without this focused attention I might have some regret.

I won’t talk about the process until the end of the twelve weeks,  but I look forward to sharing my insights at that point.

Anyone else try any courses or read any good books that helped them get to their motherhood decision?