A very full heart

By Simone Cardwell

I remember being eleven and saying to my best friend ‘I want babies, but I don’t want to HAVE babies’. I was referring of course to my newly acquired knowledge of how babies were made, and my disgust in that information.

Fast forward ten years, and planning my first wedding, I couldn’t wait to be a Mother (clearly my disgust of how babies were made had subsided).

“But just one baby” I told my fiancé. I would be content with having ONE.

After losing our first pregnancy at 13 weeks, It took us another five years to fall pregnant again. Five long years of trying, feeling my heart break every month when I wasn’t, and finally jubilation, amid complete disbelief. ( I did three separate positive pregnancy tests, before I would believe it.) and finally carrying the baby to 37 weeks.

Our baby boy was born in February 1999, and I was content with my one baby. All my dreams were fulfilled and I couldn’t imagine sharing my love with another anyway.

Then, two years later, our second boy was born. A surprise pregnancy, a ‘happened without trying baby’, and yes I actually did have more love to give.

There – I was done, my perfect little family, two gorgeous wee boys, I didn’t yearn for a girl despite every second person saying to me, “you will have a try for a girl next”.

No, I was done…. until I wasn’t.

After my marriage ended, and after some time on my own, I met a new partner, and we were blessed with a darling girl. To my surprise, I had feelings of euphoria when I was told it was a girl. Followed closely by a major kick in the guts when we found out two weeks later, that our tiny wee girl had cystic fibrosis and would most likely have a shortened life.

We were thrown into a world of daily physio treatments, medications, clinic appointments and hospital admissions for weeks at end. Walking around constantly feeling numb and full of worry.

My relationship didn’t survive the stress of having a child with a life-threatening illness, and I was suddenly on my own with two school-aged children and a three month old baby who was so very sick.

I managed on my own for seven years, it wasn’t easy, though it definitely made me stronger.

In hindsight, I am grateful for my experience and for the challenges that I had no choice but to overcome.
I look at my daughter now, almost twelve, and one of the bravest, smartest, kindest people I know. I reckon I’ve done ok.

When I turned 40, I knew I was ready for love again. I visualised my ‘perfect man’, I prayed, I meditated, and we found each other. I knew from our first date, that we were soul mates and he was my forever love. We were married eleven months later.
The rest, as they say, is history….

Well almost. We’ve had two babies together , in a very short space of time. A girl and another boy. And my heart couldn’t be more full! I’m now the proud mamma of five, yes five children. I get a kick out of people’s reactions. “Five?! You must be a so busy! Oh, you poor dear girl…”. Then, just for fun I add, ‘and I homeschool my middle child’. Gasp!

Yes, life is busy, yes it’s not what I thought my life would look like. Yes, my eldest has just started work while my youngest is still in nappies, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’m blessed beyond my expectations with these children that have chosen me.

All such unique human beings, all with different amazing personalities. I couldn’t imagine my life without any one of them.

So, I think back to eleven year old me, and her funny outlook on life. On having babies, or rather not having babies, and I smile.

I think John Lennon said it best, ‘Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans’.

Yes John, you were quite right.

Simone Cardwell is a grateful mother of five, ranging in ages from 18 years to 18 months.
Memoir writer, recipe developer, crafter, self-acclaimed domestic goddess. Wife to Andy and Mama to Jakob, Harri, Alice, Abigail and Oliver.

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