The cost of a baby

It wasn’t until I had paid for the baby trolley my mind started to wander off to the past. By the way, baby trolleys are apperantly a huge fucking deal. The size, the color, the wheels – everything. I was asked to choose the color, and I looked at them all sitting there in the store and blurted out; «but they are all in different shades of grey for crying out loud!». So, we chose the dark grey one after considerable time and kilometers driving around the lake in search of that perfect baby trolley. Ironically, it was basically the first one we looked at two months ago, but I’m not judging.

So, anyway, I pulled out my MasterCard and paid for the thing. The whole thing set my card back 1335 dollars. Come to think of it, that’s just 700 dollars less than for my old Volvo. Apperantly, baby trolleys cost a lot of money.

It was when we got back home we started to discuss how much money I had been spending on unborn children since 2013. Through IVF (public and private), travel costs, hotels and now baby trolleys, equipment, clothes and what not.

Back in 2013 my ex-wife went through examinations and an small surgery. This was free though, except for a small fee. Then in 2014ish we started IVF which set me back about 2000 dollars. The medicines (which also cost a lot) were thankfully covered by our more than welcoming healthcare system. Then came travels to the capital, a few hotel stays over night and food. We also took the train a few times down there for reasons I do not remember. In 2014, also due to lack of baby success we bought another dog at 1500 dollars.

After our unsuccessfull public IVF treatment, we went private. I remember paying half of a 7000 dollar sum, split between myself and my ex wifes mother for a three-attempt package which was not refundable at any time. On top of that there would be medication – by now not covered any longer by the public health system. I did the math back then and figured the total cost would be about 12.000 dollars. We only did one attempt though. We aborted everything, split up, and went out seperate ways. The medication, for one attempt, was around 1000 dollars.

Then came everything inbetween then and now. With my latest investment at about 2000 dollars worth of equipment and baby trolleys, the total amount of money I have spent trying to have a baby ended somewhere around 8000 dollars. And, my daughter haven’t even been born yet.

However, I believe I speak for most people that have been in this situation with IVF, adoption or any other challenges in trying to create a family when I say; “I would be more than happy to pay it all again if that’s what it takes. I’ll pay whatever it costs, and I’ll do whatever I possibly can.” And I have. I have suffered economically, emotionally and I have ended relationships for it. And it’s all worth it. Because it was the right thing to do.

You can’t possibly put a price tag on it. Money means nothing.

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My grandparents

In September, a baby girl will be born. I will be her daddy. My parents will finally be grandparents, and my grandparents will be great grandparents. If they had lived.

I guess it comes to most people when a new generation is born. Suddenly you start to look back to where this baby girl comes from, this fresh new human being. I finally understand why old people when I was a child studied my face and told my mother how I looked like so and so relative. Or how I looked like my dad but had the heart of my mother. It comes from perspective. It comes from understanding that life is finite and suddenly it’s all over and a new generation will take their place. And in those 100 years or so since my grandparents were born, everything have changed and nothing have changed at the same time.

I don’t even know when my fathers father (my grandfather) passed away. I think my father was 15 at the time. For me, it’s always been like this and I never dwelled on the fact he wasn’t around. It is only during these last years and months I have come to realise that this kind man never got to experience growing old. He would never see his grandchildren being born. He would never experience that day when my father got his private flying license and roared over our house in a Cessna 172. He would never see how much my father have accomplished. From five year long boat and car restorations, playing blues rock or attending air shows with his son. The story of my grandfather is nothing but a sobering tale of «what if’s», but I guess – like my father most likely have concluded – you can’t dwell on it. A life ended halfways and there’s nothing you can do about it. I never got to meet him, and at times like these, with a baby girl coming, it creates a certain grief I have not experienced before.

While my father have been resilient about everything, my grandmother was not. Her life spiralled out of control after he died. She would never recover, and would spend decades struggling with un-treated anxiety, periods of severe alcoholism, chain smoking and simply living a horrible life alone in an apartment 60 minutes away from my family by car. I guess that with my grandfather life ending so abrubtly, so did hers. But she had a choice, and she made poor decisions. She would neve really be a functioning grandmother, but my father always sheltered his children from her behaviour. I remember once when she would visit us and we would pick her up at the bus station. She came as planned, but obviously drunk. My father caught on at once, and told her to get out of the car and take the bus back where she came from. And that she did. It happened so quickly I never really understood what happened until I was a grown up. She died about five years ago, having lived a very unfullfilling and lonely life. A failed life. But she’s still my grandmother, and I miss her. I can even understand her. Life is sometimes just too hard to handle. She was the one that gave me the Christmas present I remember the most; a CD stereo system. She must have saved for months and months for it.

While my grandparents on side ran into hardship and even death, the other side lived a different life. A countryside life with many children and a heap of grandchildren. My mother was the fifth and last in line of girls. I guess my grandpa, in his early 40s then, wanted one last go at having a boy, and subsequently failed in the attempt. He had no education to speak of, but worked different jobs through life. Often when I worked nursing homes in the beginning of the 2000’s, old men that knew him often remembered  his height. He was quite short. Family to my grandpa was everything. He never travelled, he settled. Like most people in his generation did. Because they had no other choice. It doesn’t mean he didn’t have a good life. Family is the most important thing, and grandpa had that in a large scale. I grew up next door to my grandpa and grandma, but they were already growing old quickly when I just started growing up. I wasn’t even a teenager when my grandma developed alzheimers and I’m the only one of my sibblings that developed some sort of relationship with them. My grandpa sort of gave up his physical state in the early 90s and ended up in a chair in his home for the last six or seven years of his life depended on home nursing. In 1998 he died, and the last thing he did was call out for my grandma.

There’s something strange about my grandma though. When I think of her, I get a sense of love and care I can’t figure out. It’s been coming to me the past years. I have developed some sort of new bond to her even if she’s been gone since 1994. My grandma was a lot like my mother. With deep care and commitment she took care of her family and her grandchildren. She knew little about the world and it’s complexity. The whole world to her was the surrounding peaceful countryside. She was a real a product of her time. Simpler times. It’s indeed a wonderful place most people in the world can only dream to live in. When I was very young, I often played outside and I could smell that distinctive smell of the dinner she was making. Potatoes, brown sauce, Norwegian meatballs. A smell that is not often to be found today. And I know she cared deeply for me. Alzheimer destroyed her last five years on this planet. I can’t even imagine what she went through, knowing she would drift away somewhere else.

I have developed a new relationship with my grandma these past years. I have almost gotten to know her again. It is one of the most strange spiritual experiences I’ve had. I can’t figure out what it all means. It doesn’t matter what it is really. I just accept that it is. And if she’s somewhere around looking after her family still, I know she will be very excited and very proud that another generation will step into the world this September. Like all of them would be.

Breaking the news

We told her daughter the news last Saturday.

It was something she had dreaded for months and months. She was convinced her daughter would throw a fit of some sort. Fall into depression, cry hysterically, scream profanities or simply falling to sleep silently every night in tears over the nightmare news of a little sister.

Perhaps my relationship with her would suffer greatly. Maybe she would hate my guts over how I basically “stole her mother away”.

Even I thought it would pose a bit of a problem, and I often told her that it most likely would be a bit of crying and screaming but it would pas with time. It’s not like the daughters experience with her half brother seems to work out well judging by what she says about it.

However, none of that happened. The daughter must be some kind of psychic. Two weeks ago, she started to ask for a little sister out of the blue. We weren’t telling her anything, and we didn’t confirm it either. Last Monday, we come home from the ultrasound and the first thing that comes out of the girls mouth when we get back is; “will I get a little sister?”. We still didn’t confirm the news, we waited until Saturday when she once again asked and wished for a little siter. The girl was over the moon when we confirmed the news.

No tears, no screaming, no nothing. Just joy on her part.

Trying to take advantage of this and put it into a wider perspective I try to tell my girlfriend that since this went so much better than what she thought, maybe other aspects with this pregnancy would be a positive surprise as well. Well, she wasn’t really buying into that and she would hardly accept that the “hell” as she described it once (telling her daughter would be a experience out of hell) never happened. “Things change” she said – as an explenation. Well, dauh, yes they do. Maybe other things won’t be “hell on Earth” either then.

Her brain often starts to work overtime at midnight. Again last night. I’m ready for sleep by then, and the look of surprise on her face when I say that midnight is a good time to fall asleep never fails. Going through the usual issues she started to talk about walking her daughter to school. She said she refused to give this up even with a new baby because it was “quality time” with her daughter. Given my perspective of things, children being able to walk to school alone is a crucial part of them growing older and being more self dependent. I have observed children coming to school in the morning, and there’s very few parents actually walking the kids all the way up to the door holding their backpack. No offense. I guess it’s simply a matter of being afraid of something new, holding onto the old. My life has been “new” for the past three years or so. It’s come to be the norm. I guess that’s why I’m not that worried.

In the Beginning

Week 14 + 3

This will be the first (of perhaps many) letters to you. Maybe one day you will read them all, or maybe this will be long gone in the mist of technological advancements by the time you have grown up enough to understand all of this. Who knows. It’s in English as well, which serves as a good code language between us. Your mother most likely won’t be able to keep up with these ramblings anyway. She once told me she quickly loose track if anything is in English! By the way, I do hope you will find usage of the English language as exciting and fulfilling as I have through the years.

First, well, I’m sorry it took a while! I had a few issues to take care of first. I’m sorry I’ll be a bit of an old fart, but here’s the thing; I don’t plan on being old. My father always said; keep yourself updated on your surroundings. Embrace new technology. Always be positive to advancements. Never let the world pas you by while you’re stuck in some godforsaken decade where the internet sort of doesn’t exists (except when you pay your bills). Stay on top of the world and the current. I plan on doing the same. It truly is good advice.

On New Years Eve 2001, Axl Rose took to the stage for the first time in almost 10 years and told his audience; “I have traversed a treacherous sea of horrors to be with you here tonight”. I have to admit I feel the same about this. I could write a book about it all, but it won’t be realistic enough for people to buy into it. I am confident it will be worth it though.

Right now, I don’t even know if you’re a boy or a girl. I can honestly say I don’t care. I’ve seen you on a TV screen, wobbling about in your mothers stomach. You be nice to her. She have been feeling unsure and unwell. Treat her nice. It’s not her fault. It’s just nature and hormones. Life experience even. Just make sure you grow right and be all healthy. It would mean a lot to her. Comfort her, and care for her like I do, and it will be alright in the end.

Shadow Dancing

I’m about to go down that certain road again, and to no choice of my own.

Just like last time I was clear, confident and made sure I got the right answer. The “yes” answer. The “yes I would like a family and I would like children” answer.

This time around I was even more on edge than before. I desperately wanted to do it right. If there was a certain insecurity about the issue I would pick it up like a boat searching for the coastal lighthouse.

And I did. I stored every hint and talk about it in my mind. There was no insecurities. And months later, I came out and asked. I told her the whole story (although we had touched upon it) and I asked her. “Children is important to me”.

Just like last time, the relief I felt when I asked and got the right reply was heartfelt and sincere. I had done it right, I had played my cards right. My gut feeling had been right.

“Yes I would like to” was the answer, with a follow up “what if it won’t work?”

I replied that it didn’t matter, because I had taken my decision. I only wanted to be in control of my own destiny. If it didn’t work out, by biological reasons, that was fine. It was thing and I would deal with it accordingly.

I was happy. Truly happy. I got involved with her daughter. Her family too. Never before have I felt such happiness and confidence in my own ability to make the right decisions. Never before have I been so sure I had done the right decisions in the past. I did everything by the book, and was proud of it. And here she was, a girl I could trust. A girl that wouldn’t let me down. A girl that I asked one of the most important questions you can ask, and she agreed to it.

A few months later and she became pregnant. I knew it before she even knew it herself. My understanding of human biology is perhaps further advanced that most people bother to think about. My happiness reached a whole new level. My love for her daughter grew day by day. I felt like a father. I felt like I had a family. And my struggles would now be crowned by the ultimate victory and joy. Pregnancy. I was to become a father.

Things started to unravel quickly after the two lines on the stick appeared. She backtracked. Unsure. Scared. Confused. She’s suddenly telling me she wakes up every morning in panic. She feels like she doesn’t want a child after all. Too much worries. Too much struggle. Too much of everything.

And this is where I am today. Stuck in a state of confusion. A limbo state where I do not know if I should laugh out of happiness or cry out of desperation and despair. A state where the unthinkable is being discussed; abortion. I am not against abortions. I believe in a womans right to choose, but not like this. Not like this.

Because I asked. I asked.

 

I pull out all the arguments I can possibly do. I act all professional, trying to speak sense into her. But nothing works. I go to the verge of threatening her. I am in tears every time I think about it. I try everything that I can to explain. This is the most important and biggest thing a human being can experience, but I am not even allowed to be happy. I can’t be happy. I can’t tell anyone. I can’ tell my mother.

I asked. I can’t believe you are doing this to me. Because I asked you. I asked you, and you said yes.  I did everything right. I do not deserve this. I did not deserve it last year, and I do not deserve it now. What wrong have I done? And now I’m involved. Strong feelings for both of you. I love you both dearly, and now you are doing this to me. I can’t believe you are hurting me like this. Not you of all people. Not you. Please no, not you.

By Any Means Necessary

No one is really following this saga but me, but I’ll write it.

My wish and desire to become a father at some point is very real, and I damn well know all the pain I’ve been through the past years for dealing with it and the loss of it. The failed marriage impacted me greatly, but I knew what I was doing all along in terms of children. I stuck with my ex wife for as long as she wanted me there. When she didn’t want me there any longer, I left. And I did so with no hesitation. She could not have children. If she loved me, I would have stayed regardless. She didn’t, so I left. I wanted children, and I could not have them with her. I do not regret that decision.

I met someone new, and thought I did all the right things, asking at the right time, trying to pan it all out by the book. She knew my desire and wish to create a family on my own, and she agreed to it. Then she retracted it and didn’t want any more children. That’s fine. I don’t blame her one bit for it considering her story. But I do blame her for not being able to stand firm on a very important decision. That impacted me greatly, and yet again I took some very hard decisions and broke it off. I don’t regret that either, but it was an extremely tough decision when it was going on.

Then I met someone else. I decided to follow my gut feeling. She asked me i f I wanted children early on (which is normally the way you do these things) and I confirmed I did. I did not ask her back. I followed my instincts, and waited. I read between the lines instead. Kept my head cool. Did not speak much about children either. Did not pour my heart out. Maybe I was afraid of the answer if I asked.

I was more up front with her last night. I told her just that – that I had refrained from asking her so bluntly. She asked if I had been scared of her answer. I sort of replied with a “no”, but I guess it wasn’t really the correct reply, because I had been afraid of her reaction. I don’t blame myself for holding back. Not with my past experience this year, but I asked her last night. If children was a possibility in all this. She confirmed that it was. I replied saying that it was all that I needed. She asked me what if it wouldn’t work out – if she would not get pregnant. What then? I said that in that case it was a whole other ballgame. That is something completely different. It can happen. We’re not 25 any longer. Not 30 either. But it is a “risk” I am willing to take. Because I love her. I see what kind of girl she is, and her type does not grow on trees. She asked me what I would have done if she said that she would not under any circumstance have any more children. I replied that it would not normally go as far as this if that was the case (I would have known by my gut feeling) – but if that had happened (like last time) I would have left. The grief of not having children on my own, if it will come to that, will be something I have to deal with on my own, but at least I am in control of my own destiny. I decided last summer, when I met her, that if I would go along with this it would be a risk I was willing to take. I am more in control of my own destiny now. It simply feels better. It is my decision. Not someones elses.

Walking to work this morning felt easy. It was a relief. I did the talk I knew I had to do at some point, and now I have done it. I am in control of my future. If it doesn’t work out, at least I know it was my decision to go down this path.

I don’t think the grief will ever really go away if I am to be without a child. But I can learn to live with it. Deal with the cards I was given. I will have to deal with many horrible thoughts and reflection on my destiny, and how all this ended this way due to circumstances I could not control or know. I could not know that my ex wife could not have children. I will somewhat always blame myself for choosing the wrong person so many years ago, but I can’t change this. The shocking realization that life is by chance and luck is tough to swallow. You can be the man you want to be, you can believe in karma and always try to do the right things – but it might not be enough, and it’s not your fault. It’s not MY fault it ended like this.

But, it’s not over yet. There’s still a few years to go.

If it doesn’t work out, I might end up with a depression again. I might have to go to counselling again. But at least I can say I tried and took the decisions I thought was right.

Maybe none of this will happen, and in five years time I have settled into the life I made for myself feeling alright with everything that have happened. Coming to grips with it, and accepting my faith.

 

Between the Darkness and the Light

Fathers day came and went yesterday (I honestly don’t know why the date is different from country to country, but it is).

I was honestly a bit worried about it.

I was worried that I would scroll around on Facebook and see numerous of posts made about dads  and how they are so kind, caring and nice to their children. Photos of dads with their children, smiling – being happy. I was especially worried about posts about dads my own age and how I would react. I know a lot of them by the looks of it (yeah, I did scroll a little). So I worried about that Friday and Saturday. Worried that it would bring me down in jealousy and very real feelings of failure. Why they get so much attention while no one mentions me or say anything about me. It feels like I am not worthy or good enough. Not as kind, caring or supportive. And sure, that ain’t true, but it still pokes my feelings that way.

I was worried it would remind me all too well of what I have been through. Worried about how letting down my mother would be a present feeling all day. Worried that my girlfriend would notice as well. But in the end, I guess it was more about actually being scared that something *could* happen to my psyche instead of it actually happening. Like actually developing a migraine because you are shit scared of getting one in the first place.

It would have been different if I had been all alone that day, but I was with people that I care about. I was kept occupied, and had little time to think about it. I did alright. It was actually when I started to think about why the day turned out alright I got bummed out, and let’s forget the bad dreams at night. They often happen anyway. It doesn’t count.

I thought of telling my girlfriend that I had been worried about Fathers Day and how it all went pretty well in the end, but in the end – I didn’t. I don’t really tell her much about this at all. Not like with my ex where I opened up like a flood. I guess I learned to keep my mouth quiet. Maybe that’s a good thing, maybe it’s not, but if taking a left turn last time around resulted in shit happening, I take a right turn this time and hope for the best.

So, happy belated Fathers Day to you guys and fuck all of you. 😉

The Long, Twilight Struggle

You accused me of being grumpy when I came into work.

I replied I wasn’t grumpy or annoyed or even mad.

Sometimes I have a lot to think about; I am disappointed with the choice I made of who to love and be with, and I am frightened about doing them again. I am worried that I will not feel or be fulfilled, and that I will constantly, for the rest of my life, walk around with a feeling that I can only describe as a heartache that will never end for as long as I live. You know I read that one time? That having no children and wishing you had children feels like a never-ending heartbreak? Like when your 17 and your boyfriend dumps you and you think you will never get over it? Only that for me, due to what happened, it will never go away? It scares me. And I often wonder where all this came from? It wasn’t something of an issue that occupied me at all when I was younger. It was only when it was taken away from it dawned on me. When did I become like this?

But hey, I have control now. I am not pouring my heart out to my girlfriend about it. I shy away from it. I do not feel like escaping life by looking up B&Bs somewhere along  the British southern coastline, go down there alone and lock myself in that room and hide from society. But even if I keep myself in order, I have periods of feeling worried and sad. That’s what you see when I come into work with a strict face, few words and a couple of deep sighs. I am not grumpy. I am just worried about life. Disappointed with the past, and scared about the future. Maybe this is how it is when you grow old and more than before look back at your life and judge your actions? Suddenly I have a whole decade to look back upon as an adult. No wonder I am worried.

I am not grumpy. I am frightened, disappointed and worried.

Objects in Motion

This will be “problems of the western world” type of post. I ask for forgiveness for it before I have even written more than a couple of words.

I often feel like life is like a train journey. Some people get on one train and stay onboard the train for the duration of their journey – until the end. Other may change carriages on the same train a few times. Other may get off the train, board another and then stay onboard. Others may change trains numerous of times. Maybe even going different directions. Getting off one train going north, and boarding another going east. You get the picture.

I feel now that I have changed trains and carriages so many times it wears me out. My traveling is getting harder and more difficult. I am not as young any more, and all the changes have taken its toll. My legs are sore, my clothes are dirty and the smell of Diesel oil have filled my nostrils. I am travel-worn. Tired of changing directions in my travel, and constantly trying to adapt to trains that goes quicker and quicker towards the end station where it all terminates. I have lost a few of my bags along the way, left on several stations. I have no more drinks with me, and a bottle of beer is left at the station two stops ago.

Yet again I am now on a journey on a train going somewhere. Maybe I just changed carriages this year, but is a new carriage with new people, new faces and new customs and culture. And I am trying to adapt, not loosing myself in the process. I have left parts of me behind, and I can’t go back to pick them up again. I am constantly moving forward. And like many people on the train, I feel like a lonely traveler. I am with many people in my carriage, even someone new I care deeply for, but it is me – and me alone. No one will ever stay with me for the duration of my journey. It is a lonely feeling, and I have not felt it before. It is even scary, and I wish I could do like children do when they are going somewhere without their parents – put a sign on myself that says “I am traveling alone”.

In the end I guess I am just hoping that I will keep most of my belongings and personality once I depart the train at its final destination. And perhaps to trust someone enough to take the rest of the journey with me – or perhaps understand and accept that I have to do it myself.