Saturday, 20 August 2011

What I really want

When we were trying to have a baby, and it was taking rather a long time, we had an appointment with a doctor who, having analysed my blood tests and hormone levels and prodded and poked, asked me what I wanted to get out of the appointment. "A baby" I said simply. He looked taken aback - I think he wanted me to say clomid (a fertility drug) or ivf or something medical. But it was true - I desperately, primally, wanted a baby, and I thought I was being both clever and honest in saying that was what I wanted.

Now I have my daughter however I realise that having a baby is not the endpoint, it is the beginning. No, what I want is not a baby, but a baby who then grows into a toddler then a little girl, then a bigger girl. I want her to be a teenager then a young woman. I want her to be a mum, to be a middle aged woman, to be a grandma and to be old. When the doctor asked me what I wanted from that appointment I might as well have said I want to be a grandma one day. See, turns out not just that I wanted baby, but that I wanted to begat generations.

None of which is fair to the baby of course. She may make choices or have choices thrust upon her that mean she doesn't have children, or that her children don't have children. She might emigrate to the other side of the world. She might decide to cease contact with me. The moment she became herself and not an abstract want on my part, was the moment those decisions became no longer anything to do with me.

But although they will not be my decisions, I hope she follows the rule my parents taught me, that we cannot hope for a moment to repay our parents for the love and (emotional and material) support they give us, but we can repay them by doing the same for our own children. I hope we bring our baby up with family at the heart of her life, and a happy childhood she will want to replicate for her children. All of which was a little too complicated to tell the doctor of course.

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