When does a perfectionist decide to have babies?
After hundreds of conversations in my clinic on this very topic I'm keen to normalise the experience of indecision around conception. And to share what the process looked like for me.
Firstly, it is normal and okay to be unsure.
So when does a perfectionist decide to have a baby?
When all their ducks are neatly in a row, of course.
At least thats what thought. I can laugh about it now that I am on 'the other side'. But 'back then' stepping into motherhood was something I wanted to be prepared for.
And since I'm an over preparer, over planner and mild control freak, being prepared was going to take some time.
Naturally, the goal posts of readiness would continue to move further away. The mental checklist of what I had 'To Do' first before conceiving was becoming more complex. I was, in essence, taking preconception care to a whole new level.
From the discussions I was having with other women in my clinic, I knew these feelings of waiting for the perfect conditions were common.
Fortunately for me, this didn't come with any feelings of anxiety, but I know a lot of women do experience anxiety around conception decisions. Even shame about their indecision. And it makes sense. It's a big time life changer. We are right to think it through.
Funnily enough, here's something that never occurred to me during that time of fence sitting and back-and-forth:
Ducks in a row at the time of conception does not necessarily equal ducks in a row when babe travels earthside.
It had somehow just never occurred to me. I was otherwise occupied - head down, going about my day, loving my job and slowly lining up those dang ducks.
Perhaps in all honesty I thought I could just hustle all pregnancy long to keep them in line.
That is to say, if by chance you too are in the midst of deciding about 'the big leap' and waiting for those ducks to find their form... Well... You might be waiting a while. And they might not necessarily stay that way.
My job was a blessing when it came to decisions around my own conception. I was aware that often conceiving isn't as straight forward as it seems.
How just because you decide in May that you're ready to conceive a child, December can quite easily roll around with still only one line on the pee stick.
Working with couples trying to conceive had adjusted my perspective. I was aware that fertility is no given. I knew scores of women just like me - healthy, fit and strong that were having difficulty conceiving. That conception encompasses so many factors outside our control. So many things invisible to the eye.
My biggest form of resistance was one that women have echoed back to me time and time again.
I loved my work so much I didn't want to take a day off, let alone an entire maternity leave. How and when do we as women decide to take an active step away from something we love so much for something so unknown?
I was having such a delicious time in the clinic, sinking my teeth into a career I truly loved. That everyone seemed to be benefiting from.
Then one night I looked up at the moon and had an honest conversation with myself. A catalyst had been gathering momentum. A light whisper of my own mortality - someone young and precious passed away days prior at just thirty years young. My age. And the cogs inside me started turning.
And somehow, the truth was there for me to pluck right out of the night sky.
I was waiting for something that wasn't going to happen.
I wasn't going to wake up one morning and feel 'ready'. There wasn't going to be a big pivotal moment where my desire to step towards something so unknown was going to outweigh what I knew of my life as it was and I loved. But I wanted to do it anyway.
To be brave and go all in.
Realising that there was never going to be 'a right time' felt liberating.
It reminded me that we are not here to do what is easy, what we can rationalise or what we can make sense of. We are here to take the big and sometime scary steps towards the legacy we wish to leave behind.
The ducks were gently scattered. True. But they were happy.
So, ducks amok and all, I was ready.
And I had become ready by getting honest with myself about what I wanted from this life.
The hardest part was challenging myself to jump when it felt right, instead of when things were perfect.
And to really nut out and explore the difference between the two.
One an internal feeling. One an external, unattainable illusion.
And I realise now that in doing so I made the smallest and most necessary step towards motherhood.
Letting go of the illusion of perfection.
Because nothing has asked me to surrender my perfectionist tendencies quite so much as this crazy and delicious motherhood ride.
Being comfortable with the feeling of ducks not lining up is something I now rely on daily.
Oh, this life. There sure are lessons everywhere.