BUYING SPERM (ONE YEAR ON)

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Longstanding readers might remember a brilliant list from Liv Thorne  wrote about her decision to have a baby alone. Well, just over a year ago her boy Herb came into the world. Here’s Liv reflects on life as the only parent is like.

  • Nothing about the first year of motherhood has been what I expected. Nothing.

  • The last year(ish) feel like both a second and a lifetime. That is where the parental cliches start but it definitely isn’t where they end. 

  • Do I remember life without my brilliant boy? Absobloodylutely.

  • Do I want to go back to that life, pre-Herb? Absobloodylutely not.

  • I think whether you go it alone or you are in a relationship, the shock of a very small, very dependent human entering your world is the same.

  • Shock, is definitely the right word for what I felt. I was shocked to my very core. My body was also shocked to its very battered, bruised & stitched core.

  • The first three months hit me hard. Like that massive spinning rod over the pool on Total Wipeout, I thought I was prepared, ready to duck, but I just didn’t see it coming.

  • I had focussed everything on the birth. My birth was far from great. However I wish I had concentrated more on what the hell I was going to do after his arrival, rather than on my labour which I had very little control over.

  • My amazing sisters pretty much tag teamed the whole of the first six weeks, so I was never really alone and my god I never knew how much I needed them. They saved me, literally. I remember the first few weeks after they ‘left’ were quite the eye opener.

  • I thought I would be fairly relaxed about routines. Flailing around though, drowning definitely not waving, I realised I had no idea what I was doing and I just wanted, needed someone to tell me WHAT TO DO. What was ‘supposed’ to be happening now? So I bought a book and devoured it. For me, as soon as I had some vague structure or notion that what I was doing was ‘OK’, I instantly felt the tension leave me. Like steam being released from a pressure cooker. I get why people hate those books, but without anyone else to sound out, it just felt like someone else was in the room with me.

  • It felt as though I had been given a map, that had loads of blank parts that I could colour in myself, to my taste, but there were routes that I could follow where I wanted. It felt amazing. 

  • Don’t get me wrong, there are times I could have screwed that fucking map up and screamed and shouted and not understood what was going on. I am not entirely sure I would trust anyone that hadn’t ever felt like this in the first few years of being a parent, let alone the first few months.

  • I know we are told to trust our instincts, but in those first few months my maternal instinct was more often than not telling me to buy a big bottle of gin and run to the hills. Fast.

  • There have been days when I have wept hot, snotty tears until I couldn’t breathe. The type of crying where the tears start to sting your face as they fall. I don’t think I could say what has bought these episodes on, a culmination of the endless repetition of days, of tasks, of lack of company. 

  • There have also been days when I have wept hot, snotty tears until I couldn’t breathe because Herb makes me laugh so much. His spontaneous dance moves, gurning & posing will forever test my pelvic floor.

  • His obsession with Alexa (yep, the voice activated device not an actual real human!) will always make me want to squeeze him a bit too hard. He just sits near it, willing it with his eyes to play a song he can sporadically shake all of his limbs to. My relationship with Alexa, however, is less calm (NO ALEXA THAT IS NOT WHAT I SAID YOU *%£$*%£&) My sister pointed out though, that I should probably stop shouting abuse at Alexa, because Herb will think that is a totally acceptable way to speak to people. Excellent point sis, excellent point.

  • The loneliness of parenting and living alone is something no-one, unless they are in that situation, can ever understand.

  • ‘Oh I know what you mean, Bob is away this weekend, it’s awful,’ Nope, no that isn’t awful. That is just missing someone. I understand it more when people look forward to time AWAY from their partners, I couldn’t imagine being with someone 24hrs a day! 

  • Sometimes people think they are ‘Being A Single-Parent’ when their partners are on a stag do for a week.

  • No, you are caring for your children alone for a few days.

  • The financial worries, the endless day to day decisions, the hopes for your childs future, the demands on your time, the teaching, the aching loneliness of yet another night on your own on the sofa – these are a snippet of the things solely on the shoulders of a single parent, every single hour, every single day. 

  • In direct contrast to that, I’ve realised there is no-one to let me down or get livid at, which I think is a huge bonus!

  • I have seen how much pressure life as a parent puts on relationships, no matter how strong they were pre-kids. I don’t have that.

  • I know it is my turn to put the bins out.

  • I know it is my turn to cook.

  • I know it is my turn to renew the insurance, to fill the fridge, to put the washing out, to do the pack lunch, to organise things to do, to pay the mortgage.

  • There is no Bob to say he will do something and not do it, to go out for the 40th time this month, to say he will get up in the morning with a hangover, to have selective hearing over midnight cries.

  • I know I made this decision to do this alone. So I have to do it alone. Some parents are doing it alone through no fault of their own and they are superheroes.

  • Sometimes when Herb does something that really ‘gets’ me, I can feel real sadness that I don’t have someone to share it with. No-one else, no matter how much they adore him, will ever really want to know that he can now make a sound that could possibly maybe pass for a ducks quack. So thank god for Instagram and all who sail in her, for allowing me to be ‘that parent.’

  • Conversely, I don’t have to share Herb with anyone. The memories we make, we make them together, just me and him. I am so spoilt.

  • Nothing will prepare you for the day your child actually hugs you properly for the first time. Nothing. 

  • Before you have a baby, there are friends who you think will want to be totally involved and there are those who you think will be completely dispassionate. I have found the absolute opposite to be true. Friends I really thought couldn’t give two shits about me having Herb, have floored me with their love, support and help. Others, have kept us at arms length. 

  • I think about Herbs donor a lot. I am so very bloody grateful to that man, to his family, for giving me the opportunity to be a Mum. To be Herbs Mum. I can’t believe he is going round his day to day life, having a coffee this morning, having a shower, going to work and not knowing how completely and utterly cool his genetic offspring is. Not knowing that he is my hero.

  • I also think that the donor has no face! Herb is the spitting image of me when I was that age. It is quite uncanny. So I reckon the donor must just have a blank face. A brilliant, kind, blank Danish face! 

  • The financial pressure of single parenting is quite unreal. This is probably the thing that has shocked me the most.

  • I have to work to live. However that involves Herb being in childcare and childcare costs are crippling. Literally crippling.

  • I am kept awake every night not by my child, who has slept through for months, but worrying about how I am going to pay childcare / the mortgage / get him shoes / get his haircut / entertain him / get him a winter coat / feed us. Let alone go out with friends like people keep telling me to do, for some ‘time off.’ 

  • But how bloody lucky are we that we have the security of a house over our heads. Some people don’t and I can’t get my head around that. Our system is broken. I love that there is still the ‘oh all these single mothers cheating The System mentality.’ Jesus Christ show me how to cheat The System. I would love to cheat The System! Let me cheat it. I can’t even get in The ^&@**^£% System. My name is not down. I am not on the list.

  • Then there is the constant need to entertain a baby! I had never even thought about that. About how you are supposed to entertain them. ALL. THE. TIME. So now I know why Garden Centres exist! They are free. There is often a trolley (Herbs absolute favourite) and sometimes you hit the jackpot and there will be some animals. So don’t hate me if I do an ad on Instagram, it means I can take Herb to the zoo. 

  • I have discovered that a trip to the supermarket is worth its weight in gold. We are a strictly Aldrose family. I do my actual shopping in Aldi (I mean how do they know I need a digital spirit level?) and then we hit Waitrose just down the road for milk & stuff because it has wide aisles so I can indulge Herbs obsession with bumping off shelves at speed in his trolley.

  • Not being able to share Herb with my parents affects me so much more than I thought. When I see kids in the park with their grandparents, or being dropped off for a weekend to be indulged by their Gramps, or being told stories of when their Granny was young, or being excited about their birthday present, or being treated to a panto, or making silly faces, it really hits me.

  • I am sad my parents didn’t get to see me even in to my twenties, but I am truly devastated they don’t get to share their twilight years with my boy. They would have all adored each other, there would have been a lot of giggling. And god knows I could have done with the extra hands! 

  • The love that my siblings and their kids feel for Herb though is quite overwhelming. He is so lucky to have so many cousins who will be able to lead him astray when he is older.

  • I thought I may feel pressure to ensure I was ‘parenting perfectly’ because of the judgement I may be subject to for choosing to go it alone. I feel the total opposite!

  • Whilst I have no actual idea what I am doing, what I do know is that Herb is a really happy boy and that alone is my only concern. Yes he plays in the mud in a field and inspects dried horse poo, but was he having fun? Yes. Can I wash him afterwards? Yes. He doesn’t always get his own way though. We argue a lot! His stubborn streak definitely isn’t from the donors side.

  • Herb eats good home cooked food, he also eats crap food & sometimes mud, he watches TV, he gets licked by Elvis the dog repetitively, he has always slept in his own room, I let him cry, I rarely wash his hair, he calls sticks ‘dicks’, he wears ‘girls’ clothes, he has a dummy, our house is regularly a total mess, he can’t walk and he is very likely to say the word ‘shitbag’ any day now.

  • Is he happy? Yes.

  • Is he healthy? Yes.

  • Does he know is loved? Yes.

  • Could I ask for anything more than that. No, categorically not.

  • Do I regret going it alone? Truly no, not for a second.

  • Can I feel sad that it came to this, that I wasn’t afford the luck to become a parent as part of a happy, loving relationship. Of course.

  • Am I lucky that I got to make and be in control of the decision to be a single parent? Unquestionably.

  • I am so proud of Herb. Every day. Every single long lonely day. Every single short happy day.

  • He has a smile that can break me.

  • He is healthy.

  • He is silly.

  • He is stubborn.

  • He is brilliant.

  • He is going to be Trouble. I couldn’t be more proud that I got to be his Mum. 

**Want to know about the first part of the journey? Read Liv’s original list here.**

 

 

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