I went swimming with my mum this morning - a nice little Tuesday routine we've got into since I've been on maternity leave. On the way in, a woman said "hi" to me. At first, I didn't recognise her and looked behind me to see who she was really talking to, but there was noone there. So I turned back and she said "yes - I mean you".
It turned out that she was the mother of one of the children in the class of 6-year-olds I left in October. I hadn't taught them for long and I was meeting her out of context - and my brain has left work behind pretty thoroughly. I did remember her daughter, thankfully, and we chatted a bit about the class - they like their new teacher, but they like me more and she hopes they'll get me back when I return to work in the new school year (thank you!).
Talk turned to the pregnancy and the fact I'd stopped work so early. She had also stopped early when she was pregnant with her daughter - she was an older mother who had done IVF! "Me too", I said. She then went on to talk about her sister who had lost pregnancies and done IVF. "Me too", I said. We talked about how hard it is to keep trying when you've had so many disappointments and how easy it is to resent fertiles who appear to churn out kids with no effort or appreciation. She says she still feels that way sometimes, even though she has her little girl (no siblings - she decided to quit while she was ahead, a sentiment I understand very well).
I hadn't said anything about how I was feeling about imminent birth, but as we were about to go our separate ways she said, "Don't be scared. When I was getting close to birth, I was terrified the baby would die". I couldn't say anything at this point.
"But they want to live," she said. It's no guarantee - there are none of those in this business - but I needed to hear that.
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