Super H and I met for the first time on 20 September 2010. We were newly single, going through divorce, childless, and had both been in toxic marriages. We met purely by luck, a technical glitch, I’d say. But from that day onwards our worlds changed. It was soulmates at first sight and, genuinely, a surprising fairy-tale love affair that resulted in us being best friends, husband and wife, and, in 2012, maman and papa for the first time to Super PG. We couldn’t believe we had been given a second chance, with each other, to create the life we’d always hoped for.
We dreamed of having a large family. As an only child I’d longed for brothers and sisters, a big noisy family where everyone looks out for each other. Super H had always wanted to have a bustling family home where everyone could come to stay. When he first bought our house years and years ago, it was for the view (of the sprawling Tarnaise valley, Black Mountains and snow-capped Pyrénées), and because it could be renovated and enlarged to accommodate a growing brood.
Almost as soon as the sale was made he put a swimming pool in the back garden, hoping that one day it would be full of children laughing and splashing – just like the summer memories he has of his auntie’s home in the South of France, swimming and playing with his brother and cousins under blue Montpellier skies. These are cherished memories that light up his eyes. Life there was vastly different to home, growing up in the head gendarme’s apartment in one of the roughest departments of the Île-de-France, just outside Paris.
Our dream was to have three children, but we were latecomers to this party and 40 was looming for me. After Super PG our attempts to try and have a second child were thwarted by miscarriages and disappointment. The psychological and physical toll of such circumstances cannot be underestimated. Everything suffers, health, work and relationships, and we didn’t know if we could keep on trying and coping with the setbacks. But we did try again and remarkably we got lucky, again, and Super PF arrived in March last year.
Giving birth the first time around was horrific. But the second time was better – quicker and far less painful. Even during labour I remember saying to Super H that if having a baby could be like this (I didn’t feel like I was going to die) then maybe a third wasn’t out of the question. I remember him laughing, he couldn’t believe I was saying that, at that moment.
Two days later in my hospital room, while nursing tiny, precious Super PF, I was talking to my gynaecologist. I have never admired or respected a medical professional more than him. He is the kindest doctor I have ever met and because of the miscarriages I was assigned to his care, being considered a “high risk” patient.
I reminded him that Super H and I ideally wanted to have three children and asked him, in his experience, what the best age bracket was after 40 to have a child, bearing in mind that my 40th birthday was less than a year away. “It’s really best to get pregnant before forty-and-a-half,” he replied.
I was taken aback, for some reason I was more expecting to hear a figure like 42 or 43. He reassured me that of course it is possible to be older and have healthy children – many women do, very successfully – but that in his experience over the last few decades, having looked after so many pregnant women (and personally carrying out their caesareans, D&Cs and ultrasound scans) this is what he would conclude. Fertility rates drop substantially after 40, he explained, and other health risks increase, such as blood pressure, diabetes and the risk of Down syndrome.
Super H and I decided to bear this in mind, forget about it for a while and focus on being there for Super PG and Super PF, who, as it turned out, was breastfeeding every 1.5 hours and hated bottles. Given this situation, I figured it would be a long time before my body would return to normal anyway and we could even consider trying for another baby – let alone making it by 40-and-a-half.
In autumn 2015 Super PF was sleeping through the night and had been weaned from the breast to the bottle one hundred percent of the time. We decided to start trying for a baby as soon as we could, as we would probably have to allow for several miscarriages before getting lucky – and how old would I be then? Would we even get to that stage anyway? Neither of us were sure we could keep picking ourselves up after failures – especially me.
So, how does the story end? We don’t know yet.
But what would you say if I told you I have a mid-morning penchant for a bacon sandwich (fried “poitrine”, which is like English streaky bacon, on bread and butter with a generous layer of Ketchup) and an afternoon craving for ripe, juicy oranges, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces?
If you’re getting faint suspicions about my odd dietary desires, then if I also told you that we have sent off the “vous attendez un enfant” (“you are expecting a child”) form, which has to be delivered by the end of the 14th week of pregnancy in France, then perhaps it would be more clear.
Yes, Super H and I are thrilled to be expecting our third child in August and our excitement and happiness is off the scale. The first trimester scan showed a perfectly-formed little baby, with a strong heartbeat, waving arms and wriggling legs.
We made it, and we can’t believe it, first time around. We thought it would likely take at least a year to be in this position…if we managed to keep trying that is.
We’re surprised by the numerous negative reactions from some family members (not all), acquaintances and female medical staff (Three? And so soon? *Gasp* Nooo! Was it planned?) – but that’s for another blog post – but cheered by the warm and supportive reactions from our true friends (thank you, you know who you are, and we love you).
The next milestone is the blood test for “trisomie” or Downs syndrome which has to be carried out between the 14 and 28 February.
Wish me luck!
Thanks for reading. I’ll try not to leave it so long next time, but at least I’ve got a good excuse – I’m knackered!