‘Being 40 is too old for babies. My time is running out. I have lost count of the amount of times I have had this dream. It is so vivid and so real. I want to be a mother and in my dream I am.’

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“I have lost count of the amount of times I have had this dream. It is so vivid and so real that I am certain it is. I am actually there, I am living it and I am present. I am so lost in the emotions I am experiencing, and I am whisked away in the joy and elation that this dream provides. And it is the ’realness’ of the dream that makes waking up so indescribably difficult. I don’t want to wake up, I want to stay where I am surrounded by these magical feelings which I am so desperate to be experiencing in real life.

When I wake it takes me a few moments to recognize that it was a dream and the only feelings I am left with are the familiar feelings of emptiness and longing that follow me around all day.

Maybe it’s because I am deeply aware of my age. Maybe it’s because everyone around me seems to be doing it. Maybe it’s because I’m being left behind. Maybe it’s because my dream is still not a reality and I don’t think it will ever be anything more than just a dream.

I want to be a mother and in my dream I am. I am a mother feeding their child, holding their child, smelling their child, playing with their child, being with their child. And it is so real, so real that my heart hurts beyond comprehension as I quickly realize it’s not.

I want to be a mother. I want to be pregnant and I want to give birth. I want to hold a baby that is mine. Look into their eyes and know they are a part of me. Not a niece, not a nephew, not a godchild, not a friend’s, but mine.

I have wanted this forever and I want this more every single day.

But circumstances, which I cannot control, are meaning it is unlikely to happen. When I take time to absorb this, to really consider that this is my reality, the world around me gets a little bit darker. My stomach aches and my heart hurts. I get a lump in my throat. My eyes sting with tears and when I’m on my own I cry. I cry for what I’ve never had but miss so much. I instantly feel sad that one of my dreams I have had since I can remember is unlikely to be realized. I want the simple life. I’m married, I own a home but I’m not a mother.

Life is not always easy. Life doesn’t always go to plan. Life can be trying. I’ve learnt this from my own and others experiences. 15 years ago, I was naive in thinking it would be easy to get pregnant, after all everyone does it. People who don’t want it, seem to find it the easiest. People who shouldn’t, can. So why can’t I? My body has failed me in so many ways. And now my mind is failing me because I cannot stop picturing myself with a child. I still picture myself and my family in our home and there’s a baby. There’s a baby’s room, there’s a pushchair and there’s baby stuff everywhere. There are photos on the walls, there have been birthday parties, there’s laughter and fun with friends.

I’ve tried so hard not to picture this, to get these unhelpful thoughts out of my head but they will not go. I try every single day, but they are always there. They won’t disappear and my mind won’t let me imagine that my life as it is now is how it is always going to be.

But I must not forget that I am so incredibly lucky because my real life is beautiful. It is a wonderful life filled with amazing experiences, people and sights. All of which are making me into a stronger and more interesting person with much to share and smile about. I am alive, I am healthy, and I have people around me who love me, want me and need me. But there is still a hole and its massive.

I am drawn to babies. I can’t ignore babies. All my friends have them, all my family have them, they are everywhere. I get babies thrust at me regularly and when I’m in that moment I love it. I should probably avoid them, say no thanks when I’m asked if I want to hold them, but I don’t. I love that the people I care and love the most have their babies. I love watching the love they have for them. I am so deeply happy for them. I look at them and I marvel. I get lost in their whole being and when I hand them back, I turn, I stay strong, I keep my defenses up and I go out of my way to let everyone know babies aren’t for me. ‘I like my holidays too much’ I tell them, and yes, I do, but not that much. I change the subject and forget. Although I don’t forget, I constantly think about it. It engulfs me, it consumes me, and I normally cry. Silent tears that no one, absolutely no one sees. And then I forget, I move on and I get on with life until the next time. And then it happens again, never changes, just gets a tiny bit harder every time.

In a previous life, with a previous partner, in a different country and a different decade, I was pregnant. I was pregnant for a relatively short amount of time. 10 weeks. But it was 10 weeks of feeling pregnant, of feeling hopeful, feeling excited but also feeling cautious. And I was right to be cautious. I was given a due date which we never got to. It did not last long and when it ended it hurt. It obviously hurt physically but it also hurt emotionally and while the physical pain only lasted weeks, the emotional pain lasted much longer. The due date came and went; it stills comes and I always remember. September rolls by every year and I look around at the children that would have been the same age and I imagine.

However, I am a true advocate for things happening for a reason and I know this happened for a reason. I wanted to be a mother, but I didn’t, and still don’t, want to be a single mother. Maybe I wasn’t ready, maybe my relationship was not strong enough, maybe it was not my time. But when will it be my time?

I recently turned 38 and it was tough. I knew it would be. 36 was hard, 37 a little bit harder and 38 harder still. I am now two years away from being 40. 104 weeks, 2 springs, 2 summers, autumns and winters; 730 days. Being 40 is too old for babies. My time is running out. In reality my time has already run out. It’s becoming so real that it’s probably not going to be part of my story and knowing and recognizing this is beyond difficult. It’s heartbreaking and it’s soul destroying. It makes every day of getting older all the more painful.

It is easy to get bogged down with the feeling of emptiness and believe me I do. In the past it has affected my relationship and every month it still does a little bit. I try so hard for it not to, but my husband knows me well and as much as I think I am doing a good job of hiding it, I’m really not. But what he does not know is that every month when I begin to feel the dull ache in the pit of my stomach, secretly I am hoping that this time it will be different, this time it might be because there is something growing there, I want to believe it, but it isn’t. I know it isn’t and every time this becomes clear I lose a little more hope and my dream fades slightly. Every time I am a day late or feel slightly unwell, I hope, but hoping isn’t enough.

My husband is a wonderful man and I love him dearly, but he cannot sympathize, and I don’t expect him to, because our lives are not without children. He has two from a previous relationship. He doesn’t remember the feelings of not having a child, he’s never had to feel that. But we are exceptionally lucky, his youngest son lives with us.

So, I am a mother, I am a step-mother and while I love, care and feel about my step son as I assume a ‘real’ mother would, he is not mine. He did not grow in me, I did not give birth to him, I did not hold him as a newborn and I did not look into his eyes and know he was a bit of me.

But I need to remember what I did, and still continue to experience. I did see him ride a bike for the first time, I did see him lose his first tooth, I have organized birthday parties, I took him to his 6th graduation , and I watched him in the starring role of the school show. The hardest thing is that even though his mother wasn’t there for any of these, I do not have the connection he has with her, and maybe I shouldn’t expect it. But I want that, and I cannot shake the feeling of him not being a physical part of me. However, he is more like me in his actions, sayings and behaviors than anyone and I love that. I have tried to feel that this is enough, but I can’t, I want it to be, but I want more, and it is so hard.

So, as I look in the mirror this morning, as I do every morning, I remind myself of two things; one, I am lucky, I have so much more than many. I am healthy and safe; I am happy and loved; I have a future and I am alive; I have been given the honor of being able to get old and I should celebrate that, but my second thought which is always close by makes me remember that my dream is drifting further away. When I look at my face and see the ever-increasing furrow of wrinkles, dark circles and exhaustion, I’m not able to blame any of that on the stresses of being a mother. I can only blame that on the stresses of not being a mother. It will just be me. It will just be me for my forever.”

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jane Broderick. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

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