Kat McKenzie writes for The Spinoff Parents about trying to have a family the unconventional way. Here she shares a letter she wrote to her not-yet-conceived baby.
Sometimes it feels like my heart is fracturing and little pieces have broken off and wedged in my throat and burn my eyes, as an aching reminder that we’re missing something important. Someone important.
Sometimes I see your face in my dreams and I wake up and you’re not real but everyone else’s babies are real. Somehow you disappeared in the night to be replaced only by an aching longing that feels like loss and stings all day.
So many are at home waiting. We’re looking sadly into empty spare rooms, at mementoes we have kept, wondering why we let ourselves hope when sometimes it seems so hopeless. We could paint your room, buy tiny things, let ourselves dream of simple days with you. But we know that it may not happen. We get sad at the small things: kids being pushed on swings, dads with babies in carriers, small outfits in department stores, fluffies on the coffee shop menu.
I’ve given some of your things away. I was so excited to buy them for you but after some time I reached a point when seeing them hurt me too much, and I felt too sad. I promise to get you more.
Sometimes I’m scared that I’ve idealised and romanticised being your mother and maybe I don’t really want it after all and then a baby in a supermarket trolley smiles at me and everything in me screams out for you.
Some days it feels like I’m walking around open and raw and exposed and no one can see it and half of me wants everyone to see it and half of me wants no one to ask.
It’s easier at times to guard my feelings and heart from hurt. Someday you’ll understand. You’ll want to protect what little hope you have by hiding it away somewhere dark and safe and warm. I try not to read statistics or Facebook or think of the names we’ve planned for you, or even dare to use “when” while speaking of you. “If” seems safer, kinder.
Other times we acknowledge you openly. Your Dad and I talk about you as if you are just around the corner. He tries to stay matter-of-fact but I catch him smiling when we talk more optimistically; his eyes light up when we imagine our future with you.
We are scared about the world that you may arrive in, where fear seems to be winning, where we all seem to be struggling. It makes us more determined to fill this world with good people and to resist leaders and policies that try to divide us. We are scared and sad for those who may not have the same opportunities we do. We are worried that misguided and angry men may deny IVF and other treatments to those who so desperately want children in their future. We hope that good will prevail and that people will continue to stand up for what is right. We want to teach you to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.
Every step in treatment is a step closer to that future. Our doctors talk positively about our prognosis, and plans are in place. There’s no more waiting now – we are charging ahead. We are coming to find you. We just need science to help us.
I am endlessly grateful for the support, love, and hope that we have been showered with over the past few months. Talking with others in our position has been invaluable and so uplifting to us, and I have tried to support them. I hoped to write about my struggle and hopes for you to lessen the isolation and pain of others. Maybe I can be the hopeful one for them too.
For I’ve decided that despite the hurt, despite the possible disappointment, being hopeful is worth it. Being optimistic is worth it. Daydreaming is worth it. I have given up on any imagined timeline, but I will hold you in my arms one day. One way or another, I will be a mother, and you will be here with us. Your Dad and I can’t wait.
Kat McKenzie will be writing for The Spinoff Parents about trying to have a family the unconventional way. You can find her on Twitter at @koruandthistle, and on her blog at koruandthistle.com. When she’s not writing, Kat is a singer/songwriter, Netflix-binger, and talks to every baby and dog she sees.
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