We all have a few pals in that place where they’re pondering whether or not they want to have a baby. Ever. For some it’s a clear-cut decision, but for others it’s a real quandary. It often comes down to one core question – will I regret not having a baby in the future? It’s an absolutely gigantic question, without any easy answer – because it’s one of those things you have to experience to know about, and there’s no returns policy. It’s also an experience that’s pretty incomparable – well, unless you’ve ever been through a big, fat breakup.
I promise I’m not being flippant. Having a baby is a life-altering experience – but so too is the right breakup at the right time with the right wrong person. They both represent emotional and physical upheaval on a massive scale and it can be difficult to decipher why this is all happening to you and where it’s going to end. Let me prove my point:
Emotions: Both involve a serious emotional rollercoaster including masses of tears, fear and anxiety in tandem with moments of massive elation and a belief that you’ve turned a corner (for the better) (but you haven’t. Yet.). You can think you’re doing OK (you didn’t cry today at work / the baby slept for more than 10 minutes) but that’s when the emotions creep up on you – and you just need to go with them.
Music: Never before have you felt more allergic to the radio – it is no longer your friend. A James Taylor song could literally send you over the edge, while Mariah Carey only serves to remind you of the life you once had. Don’t even get me started on Adele. Avoid.
General Public: You can’t go anywhere now without seeing happy couples / people pushing buggies. It’s everywhere – why didn’t you notice this before? The romantic twosomes are blissfully happy and nonchalantly hold hands, rubbing it in your face. Mamas appear to handle one, two, three babies with absolute ease and no screaming (or visible booze) and are more glamorous than you might be attending a wedding (your now only social outlet). Why does being in public only serve to emphasise your shortcomings? Quick! Back home to hide where there are biscuits and Sex & The City re-runs to soothe and comfort.
Dignity: Forget about it. You’ll inevitably lose it either in the labour ward or via a drunken comment on Facebook. Own it and move on.
Friendships: You now understand the need to ‘surround yourself with like-minded people’. Be it your (super-precious) other Mama pals or your (ohhhh so valuable) gaggle of single gals, these friendships will become your saviour – the advice you ask for, the 3am text you need, the compadres you confide in. Without a doubt, your friendships at this time in your life literally are your best friends.
Your wardrobe: There will come a Saturday, some time into either experience, when you will feel the need to absolutely re-invent yourself through the consumption of new clothes. Pregnancy is not fashion’s friend, or you may have left yourself go with the ex – either way, give it about 6 weeks and you’ll be craving a new look, chopping that hair off and thinking about running a 5km with your friends (see above). All absolutely normal.
Self-Identity: Who even are you any more? You’re now either being totally defined or no longer being defined by another person and your sense of self takes a huge hit. Only time alone can attempt to restore this and I won’t lie, you will emerge different – but good different.
It does end: Once the initial shock has subsided and you start to get on with some semblance of a day-to-day routine, you will adapt to the ‘new normal’ of your life and it will get better. As the wisest of people say, everything’s a phase and it too will pass. From starting on solids to speed-dating, you may not have a clue what you’re doing, but you know it’s got to be done. You’re experience is your own – but you’re not the first and you won’t be the last.
Survival: There’s no way around it all – the only way to survive the small baby days or a relationship breakdown is to go right through it – head down and resolute. Whatever you do, don’t look back.
It might end up being a decision you make or something that happens to you – it can be the making of you, or something you always regret. Neither experience will necessarily make you a better person and, in fact, you could sail through a very rounded, fruitful, satisfaction-filled life without having experienced either. Or maybe not.
The above is just in case you’re thinking of taking the plunge… Either way…
Who knows what, if anything, we may regret when we are old