Let’s go back. Waaay back. To the 6th of January 2012 to be precise. I think I’ve spoken about this day before. It was the day that I wrote my Happiness Equation. I’d reached that point, the one that many people get to (some of us more than once!), when you ask yourself……… “Surely, there’s got to be more to life than this?”.
I was not far off turning 33. I’d been working in the big bad corporate world for 12 years. I was in a job where they wanted to pay lots of money for my CV and my certificates but didn’t actually want to make use of my brain (this may sound like a great deal for some, for me, it was deeply frustrating). I was single. I’d had two three-year relationships, one of which had very nearly turned into a marriage but, in hindsight, very thankfully didn’t. I was fortunate enough to have owned a lovely home for 7 years and was ready for a change of abode. And, by this point, I’d had multiple experiences of depression, had some great therapy and trained as a coach.
And things just weren’t right. I felt fundamentally dissatisfied. Hence the question “Surely there’s go to be more to life than this?”.
And, on that day, my way of answering it was to write my Happiness Equation – essentially, what it was that I wanted and needed in order to be happy. Simples.
The temptation, six years on, is to smirk a little bit at the simplicity and naivety of my thirty-two-year-old self – I’ve gone on to realise that there’s so much more to happiness than your circumstances. But, the reality is that that exercise had, and continues to have, an evident and profound impact on the direction and shape of my life.
I wish I’d kept the original scribblings of the Equation but the most important features were:
- To own a dog
- To get myself into a position where I could survive on less, hence have a go at doing something different and work for myself
- To have a family
In the short term, these insights massively influenced my next house move (a small ex-council house to renovate with a garden for my future dog) and led me to freeze my eggs (I’ll come back to that in a mo).
In the medium term, it gave me the conviction to and the stability from which I could quit corporate life, start The Mental Movement, and bring the super-duper-amazeballs Mr Rocky into my life.
And, in the long term (which is now imminent) I very much hope those insights are going to result in me having a baby.
Mum’s gone to Iceland
As most young(ish) women have, I’d thought about kids. I’d had phases where I thought I wanted them, then others where I wondered whether life might be just dandy without. When I was engaged in my late twenties, I felt like I was ‘on track’. I was ticking all the boxes and the next box on the horizon, following the wedding, was to crack on with the 2.4 children.
But, at my core, that’s not very me. I occasionally do the box-ticking, conventional thing. But often with my own twist or I come to my senses after a while and promptly go off-piste. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not alternative. It wouldn’t be factually inaccurate to describe me as a white, middle class, educated, accountant from Surrey. But I definitely don’t always take the most mainstream, common-place route.
So, back to January 2012. I’ve had my epiphany and part of that was about having a family. But I’m single. What now?
Google. That’s what now.
And up popped a free seminar about fertility options at The London Women’s Clinic (something they still run today and many other clinics do the same). So I booked my place and went along. Pretty sure I was both the only person there on my own and the only person interested in having a baby on their own. Neither of which bothered me.
From there, I had some appointments, some scans and some blood tests. But then I hit a roadblock – a roadblock of the big black dog variety. I was deeply unhappy at work, unsure how to fix it, and in the midst of a rather overwhelming building project at home – it got on top of me and, in Nov 2012, I ended up in one of my deepest lows. In fact, in all of my experiences of depression, this was the only time at which I took a day off work because of how I was feeling.
Babies had to go on hold. I needed to prioritise being well. I felt like I needed to be a great version of myself in order to take on the responsibility and the inevitable strain of having a baby on my own. I knew it was the right thing to wait.
But then, in early 2013, I stumbled upon one of the letters that I’d received from the clinic and read it properly for the first time. It said something along the lines of……”Your AMH* score is low for your age, if you are not going ahead with making a baby now, we strongly recommend freezing your eggs for the future.”. (*AMH is anti-mullerian hormone and it gives an indication of your egg reserve i.e. how many eggs you’ve got left.)
What!? I’m only 33. How can I be running out already? That’s not fair!
So in May 2013, my Happiness Equation resulted in me spending 10 days stabbing myself in the stomach with various needles in order to have 8 of my very finest eggs sucked out of my body and put in the deep freezer (I hope nestled in between a juicy pepperoni pizza and a large bag of garden peas).
Mum’s gone to Iceland, as I like to say.
When the eggs got frozen I said to myself that if I hadn’t had a family in some other way by the time I was 40 I would revisit the decision of having a baby on my own.
And later that year I started a new relationship which, with one interlude, lasted until August 2017 so, in that time, I didn’t have to think about it in the same way. But when that relationship ended, now the grand old age of thirty-eight-and-a-half, I knew that it wasn’t going to be long before a decision needed to be made.
In November, as part of an NLP course I was doing, I had the chance to spend a few hours working with a partner on a big life decision. Of course I knew exactly what I wanted to tackle.
I worked through various options and timelines and made the decision that I wanted to ferociously date until Autumn 2018 and then if no-one promising was on the scene I would head back to the clinic and get myself primed for an attempt around my 40th birthday – why not!
And ferociously date I did – five dates in one week was my record. (If you want to hear more about that read this.) But in mid-February, I lost momentum. Work had been really busy in a very good way, I’d had three dates cancel on me in the space of a week, I’d not made the time to replenish my man-castle and a couple of good friends had had the balls to ask me the question “Why are you waiting?”.
What tipped me over the edge (in a good way!), was my mother. Who, in her wonderfully direct way, said “So when are you having this baby then?”. She made it very clear that her and my father were extremely keen and supportive of me going ahead and that they’d like me to get on with it so that they could help out and be part of it while they’re still able to bomb up and down the A3 at a moment’s notice (as they are so very good at doing).
So, as of Feb 2018, BMA-day (Baby Making Attempt) got brought forward.
Why I’m telling you all this?
I know sharing very personal things online is not everyone’s cup of tea. In fact, most people would run a mile from the prospect.
But I’ve realised that I like it. I love to write. I find it really cathartic to explain myself in written words. I know for sure that I’m not the only one experiencing the things I do, so if I can make sense of it and find a way through it then keeping that all to myself seems really selfish. And being open and sharing my stuff with a predominantly anonymous audience seems to work really well with my funny old extroverted introvert personality.
All I know is that it works for me right now and I know that it often hits a helpful nerve for some of you. And if one day it stops working for either of us then, guess what, I’ll stop doing it and I suspect the world will continue turning.
Making babies is something that is kept very much under wraps in our society – I’m not entirely sure why because it’s something that the majority of people do at some point. It’s not common to be open about trying for a baby. It’s not common to say that you’re pregnant until you’re a third of the way through. It’s not common to share that you’ve had a miscarriage, even though it happens to something like one in four women. And those are all very personal choices that I completely respect.
And my choice and my very personal and very humble opinion is that I feel no shame and no pressure in what I’m doing. I’ve made a very conscious and confident decision, I’m giving it a go and I’m taking each small phase as it comes. I’m unlikely to get pregnant quickly, and certainly not the first time around, and I’m just as likely to have a miscarriage as the next person. And, yes, I intend to share the really difficult bits too.
The hardest bit is not in making the decision to go ahead or in having the courage to tell you about it. The really really hard bit is being a single woman in her thirties who isn’t sure if she’ll ever have a family and feels like something extremely important is completely out of her control.
So if, in sharing my story, I can encourage and/or inspire one woman to do some very conscious thinking which enables her to feel more empowered, more informed and more in control of her situation (regardless of whether she decides to follow the same path as me) then my efforts have been 100% worth it.
Keep your eyes on your inbox in two weeks time to find out the next chapter of my journey.
I’m Hana. I’m a recovering overthinker and depression survivor. I work as a Life & Mindset Coach to help women improve their experience of life. I love talking to women whose lives look great on the outside but that’s not how they feel on the inside. If that sounds like you, then let’s talk.