I’ve never experienced a positive pregnancy test. Never made a human or grown one or held one in my arms on their first day of life. I’ve never rested my hands protectively over my pregnant belly or felt the nervous excitement of knowing that the little person living inside me will one day have to come out.
The names of my imaginary children will never be used. Not by me, anyway. The dizzying surrealness of those first days of new life, of the incredulity of my own body, of the power and bravery of human creation – those feelings will always be a little bit lost on me.
I will never be the first person to hold my child’s hand or watch him sit up or roll over or smile.
I do know the patience that it takes to be a mother. I’ve felt the overwhelming sense of responsibility, experienced the anxiety and frustration, cried over my own inability. I’ve watched my child take his first steps; marvelled at his beauty, his personality, his innocence.
I’ve felt tired. Really tired. Two-hours-sleep tired.
I’ve cleaned cereal off the floor, tomato off the fridge, yogurt out of his hair and porridge out of mine. I’ve been to playgroups and music classes and stood in freezing cold parks for what feels like forever.
I’ve hugged and kissed and soothed and smelt my child a million times. Probably more.
I’ve never experienced a positive pregnancy test, but I do know what a negative one looks like. I know about ovulation sticks and monthly disappointments, healthy living and endless waiting.
I know more about jealousy and resentment than I’d probably care to admit.
Though I’ve not experienced any of them myself, I know about donor conception and IVF and artificial insemination; and I know that the decisions made in a consultant’s waiting room can sometimes be the hardest ones you’ll ever have to make.
I know about adoption, about mountains of paperwork and eye-opening training. I know about the intricacies of attachment, the long-lasting impact of abuse, the importance of acceptance and empathy.
I’ve experienced the incomparable feeling of standing in front of a panel of people whose opinion of you – of the person you are and the parent you’ll be – is everything.
I’ve held my child in my arms, not on his first day of life, but on the first day of our lives together. I know the incredulity of my own mind, my own resilience and the resilience of my marriage.
I don’t understand the power of human creation personally, but I do know and appreciate the bravery of the woman who created my child and I’m grateful to her. So very grateful.
I might not have ever experienced a positive pregnancy test, but I do know what it’s like to love someone completely, to hold a little hand in mine and know that that moment is everything.
I know that I’m not my child’s only mother, but that’s okay, because I am, still, a mother.