In an ideal world…

We got married two weeks after I turned 23, 4 years ago tomorrow. We had romantic notions of my being pregnant at our wedding, either announcing the wonderful news to our nearest and dearest there that day or even having a big old bump in the photos to show our son or daughter when they grew up, ‘look, that’s you! There you are!’ we would say, the memory of the day linked inextricably with the joy of being pregnant, the excitement at the prospect of meeting our child shining from all the pictures. Tests are being conducted, appointment schedules drawn up – yes, it’s taking a while to conceive but we won’t actually NEED extra help. We’ll have our baby when we marry, no matter how tiny they are.

It wasn’t to be.

We honeymooned in Paris. A honeymoon baby! How perfectly beautiful, being able to tell our child that they were conceived in the most gorgeous city in the world. When they were old enough to not be completely grossed out by that fact, obviously. The tests continued on our return. The needles are just a formality. We know we’ll be looking at that positive test soon.

It wasn’t to be.

6 months or so of loving our life, flashing our wedding rings, booking to go places as Mr & Mrs Alsopp. Not worrying about the tests and the schedules and the needles because don’t you know, when you don’t think about these things, when you just relax, it happens! Go on holiday! Book a spa day! Have another glass of wine – it’ll happen before you know it.

Or, it won’t.

The 18 months that followed were dreadful. Dark, worrisome, full of night terrors and fear and guilt. The newly-wed glow snuffed out, the carefully relaxed facade shattered. It will never happen, I can’t give you what you want, I can’t give me what I need. I’m sorry. Go, leave me. How did the universe get this so wrong? I’m meant to be a mother I’m meant to be a mother. We are meant to be parents. We will never be parents.

Or, we will.

In an ideal world, we’d have conceived first time. Had our baby with us in our wedding photos. Or had a beautiful baby born 9 months after our wedding, maybe their middle name would have been Paris? (Maybe not.) Conception would have been easy and joyous and hold only happy memories. But what would have become of our marriage in that ideal world? Because I know for certain, in the deepest recesses of my heart and soul and brain that our marriage is as strong and incredible and full of love as it is because of that less than ideal world we inhabited for so long.

It turns out, that the ideal world is this one. This world, with my brilliant, flawed, incredible husband, our tempered marriage and our beautiful daughter conceived with the help of all the tests and the appointments, the needles, knives and pills. In an ideal world… yes, that’s where I am.

That time Stella ate a daisy... the perfect imperfect family photo.


Categories: Becoming a Mother, Marriage, Written By Aisling
40 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Fee
    Posted June 4, 2014 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    Oh Aisling. This made me cry. As usual, you managed to articulate beautifully things that I think but can never work out how to say. I no longer believe ‘that everything happens for a reason’ or ‘some things are/aren’t meant to be’ but I do believe that sometimes there ar monumental f*ck ups in the universe and eventually you are given something amazingly beautiful as compensation. Your Stella and my Max.

    This is just wonderful xxx

    P.s. DAISY FACE!

    • Posted June 4, 2014 at 8:09 am | Permalink

      I didn’t feel particularly eloquent, Fee, so thank you. Monumental f*ck ups sums it up pretty damn perfectly, I think.

      Off topic – I can’t WAIT to be Max’s mother-in-law. *deadly serious face*

      • Becca
        Posted June 4, 2014 at 8:33 am | Permalink

        **starts hat shopping**

        You know in the days of old they’d be married already. I say we do it now when cake and afternoon tea weddings are popular. I’ll bring Anna’s lemon drizzle as its all I bake these days.

        • Fee
          Posted June 4, 2014 at 8:46 am | Permalink

          Max is in. He too loves rain, being very tall and pulling faces. They are a match made in heaven!

          And now I want some cake.

  2. Posted June 4, 2014 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    Exactly what Fee said! I was on the verge of tears at your beautiful words and then I saw the picture, DAISY FACE!!

    Love this post and love you lady xx

  3. Caroline
    Posted June 4, 2014 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    Oh A this is lovely.
    I wish I had your attitude. I find I’m still so bitter about how my ideal world should have been. I love Dexter with all my being but I feel robbed of what should have been and I find my mind wanders back to last year too often still.
    I guess I just need a bit more time…

    You have such a beautiful family and I’m so pleased you got your happy ending. Xx

    • Katielase
      Posted June 4, 2014 at 7:57 am | Permalink

      I think that’s pretty okay C, you have a perfect right to be bitter and angry with the universe, what it did to you was unfair, should not have happened. Having your gorgeous Dex doesn’t erase what came before, but I hope over time his perfect smile will help you make peace with it. In your own time though, it’ll take as long as it takes.

      Sending you the hugest of hugs, you and beautiful Dex

      KL xx

    • Posted June 4, 2014 at 8:14 am | Permalink

      That’s the thing, C, time. Stupid, takes ages, never hurries up time. And it might take a few months, it might take longer, who knows? But the pain will ease, I think and I hope. It’ll never disappear, but the scars we bear make us who we are and who you are, I believe, is a wonderful mother and brilliant human being.

  4. Katielase
    Posted June 4, 2014 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    I just want to squeeze you, this is so perfect, so imperfectly perfect. And DAISY FACE. I love you. Gah!

    I think in life you have to walk through darkness, and it takes different forms and different shades for different people. The things that keep you going are the pinpricks of light that people offer, and the warm steady glow of someone beside you, with a flickering candle, refusing to let you go. When you come out of that, you’re never the same but you always know you have that person by your side. Holding on.

    It hurts to know how much pain your darkness caused, but I’m so so happy that you had P, and that you’ve both got the light of your life, your perfect shining star, with her completely perfect DAISY FACE.

    Totes off to finish weeping onto my bagel.

    KL xx

    • Posted June 4, 2014 at 8:16 am | Permalink

      *surreptitiously wipes eyes*

      Love you x

      P.S Please don’t weep on your bagel. Wet bread makes me gag.

  5. Posted June 4, 2014 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    You have managed to capture this whole crappy perfectly. I’m just about to start looking at the needles, the tests have been being done since we got married 3 years ago. Our marriage has already been tested and gone to places I wish we had never had to go. But you are right, this whole thing makes our flawed worlds just right for us. When in the middle of it we may never realise but seeing people like you on the other side of it gives me so much hope that there will be a happy ending in my flawed world.

    And Daisy face is just blooming gorgeous! Stella rocks.

    • Posted June 4, 2014 at 8:18 am | Permalink

      Wishing you all the luck and love in the world, Claire. Hope is so, so important in this hideous world – hold on to it.


  6. Becca
    Posted June 4, 2014 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    Everyone has already been 50 billion times more eloquent than I could ever be. But I think you are all awesome and your beautiful people are lucky to have you.
    x x x x x

  7. Ruth
    Posted June 4, 2014 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    Failing miserably to write a coherent comment but thank you for this. We’ve been investigated, all normal, no reason why and my disappointment is sometimes all encompassing. But I’m lucky in my lovely husband and it helps to know that you’ve been through and come out stronger on the other side. That’s what I’m hoping for.

    And what a gorgeous photo xx

  8. Ro
    Posted June 4, 2014 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    Happy happy anniversary for tomorrow!

    We’ve faced some pretty dark times since we got married but they were things that happened outside ‘us’ and that we faced together; struggling with fertility must be a particularly difficult as it affects you both so personally and also as a couple – it sounds like you’ve come through it stronger in both senses and I’m so glad you’re able to enjoy Stella in all her daisy-eating glory.


  9. Posted June 4, 2014 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Yeah, bollocks to ‘everything happens for a reason’.

    Gorgeous Stella, your star.


  10. mysparethoughts
    Posted June 4, 2014 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Brilliant post! I’m glad the Universe finally got its act in gear and stopped being a knobber.
    We’re incredibly fortunate that things went very smoothly for us. It makes me hold my breath in gratitude when I see friends go through tough times.

    Love Daisy Face and how serious P is in all your photos.

  11. Anon
    Posted June 4, 2014 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    Regular AOWer, going anon for this one. We’re about to start the tests and reading this gives me a glimmer of hope, even though it’s overshadowed by the overwhelmingly pessimistic feeling I have that it won’t happen for us. The keeping hoping is sometimes too exhausting. I spend time with babies and pregnant friends then come home and sob into my husband’s chest, worrying that I won’t be enough for him on my own. But stories like this make me smile and feel hopeful, and I love the photo – perfect!

    • Fee
      Posted June 4, 2014 at 10:14 am | Permalink

      Sending so many positive thoughts – if you’re a regular you’ll know my story, I very much identify with the going home and crying onto my husband. There came a point last year when I gave up hope completely (to be honest it lasted until I was about 7 months pregnant due to my particular brand of crapness)- even if you can’t ever imagine it working out, it really really could.

      Keep on hoping, put your trust in the science and good old fashioned luck and hold your husband tightly. Keeping everything crossed for you xxx

      • Anon
        Posted June 4, 2014 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

        Thanks Fee xx

    • Aisling
      Posted June 4, 2014 at 10:19 am | Permalink

      So so so much love to you. Nothing anyone said to me during those darkest days helped – I know that everything you hear can sound trite and cliched and leave you wanting to yell DON’T YOU KNOW HOW MUCH THIS HURTS?! and the truth is no-one knows exactly how *you* feel, you’re the only one feeling it. But there are so many people who care and understand some of the whirlwind of emotions and so if you ever need someone to talk to you, just holler.

      Hold your husband tight and battle the exhaustion to hold on to some hope – even the tiniest bit will see you through the worst of times xx

      • Anon
        Posted June 4, 2014 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

        Thank you, not sure I’m ready to speak about it, but also want to so it’s not just our little bubble xx

    • Posted June 4, 2014 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

      All the luck to you and to anon below. You won’t always be able to have hope, sometimes it will feel a million miles from you, and that’s when you need others to hope for you. Hold your loved ones close and let them help you. Crossing everything the road ends in happiness for both of you (and any other AOW-ers in a similar situation).


    • Posted June 4, 2014 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      Aisling this is so lovely. The journey to accepting that we can’t plan what life’s got up its mean old magician-sleeves is a rocky a painful one full of disappointments and frustrations. That you found the light at the end of the tunnel gave me hope on my own (hate it but I gotta say it) journey. If we had everything in life we ever planned and hoped for just as we imagined, we’d miss the daisy-eating. Life would be so boring without daisy-eating.


  12. Posted June 4, 2014 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    Ahhh words. I have none. I’m glad life stopped being a shitbag and brought Stella to you. You were definitely meant to be a mum, for sure. Love xx

  13. Anon
    Posted June 4, 2014 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Also going anon… I’ve always known I’d have trouble concieving but now we’re actually trying to and failing, that pre-knowledge hasn’t made it any easier. In a way much harder as it feels like everyone I know seems to be pregnant and without too much trying. I’m naturally very pessimistic and keeping it together on a daily basis is sometimes just too hard. Life feels very unfair at times.

    Thanks for this post – and Happy Anniversary for tomorrow x

    • Aisling
      Posted June 4, 2014 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      As I said to the other anon, if you ever want to talk please just yell. And I wholeheartedly understand about the pre-knowledge not helping. I think it made it worse for me because I kept thinking ‘I’ll be the exception! I’ll be the one that gets pregnant first go and the doctors will all marvel!’ Which, no. Sigh.

      It’s so hard to keep your head above water, especially when all you can see is tiny babies and bumps everywhere. I always told myself (and still do actually, now that we’re hoping for a sibling for Stella) that you can never know what another family has gone through to get their children – this community is proof that so many – TOO MANY – women are struggling to conceive and keeping the pain to themselves. It helps to take the edge of the worst of the ‘why me’ days, I think.

      Huge love to you.

      • Fee
        Posted June 4, 2014 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

        Tom and I used to walk out of restaurants if there was a baby in there and I couldn’t even look at pregnant women for a long time. I’m a bit ashamed to admit that even now I look at pregnant women and feel an uncontrollable anger that totally stems from jealousy at the easy pregnancies I imagine they are having (they probably aren’t, I’m just being irrational!).

        I’m not sure what my point is except to do whatever you have to, to get you through the rough days xxx

  14. Posted June 4, 2014 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    A, you write beautifully, and you’ve brought hope to so many people. I’m proud of you, man *awkward fist bump*

  15. Anon
    Posted June 4, 2014 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    Aisling, your post has struck a chord with me this morning, but for different reasons to everyone else who has commented.

    “But what would have become of our marriage in that ideal world? Because I know for certain, in the deepest recesses of my heart and soul and brain that our marriage is as strong and incredible and full of love as it is because of that less than ideal world we inhabited for so long.”

    It was this bit that did it for me. We were the couple who conceived pretty much at the drop of a hat, it was all as we pictured in our ideal world. And now its not, we are in the middle of a bumpy patch, being parents hasn’t made our relationship stronger. At the moment I feel like it is fracturing us, too many short fuses are damaging our marriage.

    I know that is something we will get to the other side of this, but for now it makes me incredibly sad that an experience which should have been the making of us is driving a wedge between us. I’m hoping that these darker times are going to be what strengthens us in the long time.

    (sorry, that was a complete downer of a message wasn’t it).

    • Posted June 4, 2014 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

      It’s a total myth that babies automatically bring couples together and make them stronger. They are testing little beings and the only reason any couple gets closer because of them is pure blitz spirit – you’ve been broken down and come back from it. Being in the middle of a dark patch is a scary place to be, but the only way through it is forward. It will get easier and clearer to see the way as you go.

      Hope you’re ok. If you need to talk, feel free to email me, I am happy to be vented at! It’s very hard to admit your relationship is struggling, especially in a community founded on weddings!


      • Fee
        Posted June 4, 2014 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

        My Mum once told me that having children made her realise that in a marriage you can have not only a bad day or a bad week but a bad year – and now I can see what she means because it’s bloody hard and it is so very hard not to snap or criticise or silently seethe.

        Hopefully this is just a bad patch for you and things will get better and you will emerge battered and bruised but also stronger. Lots of love x

        • Anon
          Posted June 5, 2014 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

          Thank you ladies for your lovely words and support. I think we have just lost our way on communicating properly, we need to learn how to talk to each other again. We’ll get there I’m sure

  16. Sharon
    Posted June 4, 2014 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Just wanted to send lots of love to you, Phil and Stella and to the anon commenters. Also, ditto what Esme said

  17. KateQ
    Posted June 4, 2014 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    I never stop thinking how lucky we are to have had a straightforward conception and pregnancy. It really seems the fertility luck isn’t shared out equally and when I’m done baby making I would love to be able to donate my eggs to try and go a little way to balance things out. It’s really nice to hear you talk about the positive effect on your marriage of such a shitty time and I hope the same is true of my friends and family who are now in the middle of the dark times. Stella is a lucky baby for sure.

  18. Sophie P
    Posted June 4, 2014 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    This is by far my favourite post, like ever, on any website! Sometimes it would be lovely to have a crystal ball to help us through the hardest of times. One of my very best friends is currently struggling with unexplained infertility and she said that one of the hardest things is the not knowing. Not knowing whether they’ll ever be successful, whether if they ever finally decide to give up it will be the time it would have worked. I’m glad it worked for you Aisling. I’m glad you got Stella… and I’m glad Stella got you too because your positivity and the ability to find the silver lining on even the darkest of clouds is surely the greatest gift a mother can give.

    And I’m also jumping on the LOVE-the-daisy-face bandwagon! She’s so cute!

  19. Cat B
    Posted June 4, 2014 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    Oh Aisling, this took my breath away. I actually don’t have the words right now other than to say, what a beautiful family you, Stella and Phil, make.
    There are too many of us who know the pain of infertility. Seeing as there are others in need of hope, I wrote this in March 2012.
    Amelia is 17 months now. I never stop feeling as though we’ve won the lottery. After our failed IVF we were given a less than 1% chance of having a baby…
    Happy anniversary :)

  20. Anon
    Posted June 5, 2014 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Sorry, another anon here. After a horrid year, we’ve just started the tests, enough to know it’s me, not him. And I knew it would be, I knew my medical history would mean this, but it’s still really hard.
    I have days where I’m so irrational and the thoughts make me feeling like I’m slowly but surely losing the plot. I spent years saying I never wanted children – have I jinxed myself? Is this my fault for tempting fate and now I’ve changed my mind it’s tough? It’s my fault for selfishly waiting until I was 33 to change my mind? (See – completely irrational!). My husband is amazing and has always said he loves our life – so if it never happens he is certain we are ‘enough’. But are we? What if we’re not? Why am I doubting him? (See – losing it!).
    So, thanks Aisling, for the story of hope. And for the message that the ‘ideal’ isn’t always what you first think it might be.

    PS. Photos with stories are the best sort – and Daisy-face is brilliant – Stella just squooshingly gorgeous.

  21. Posted June 8, 2014 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    No coherent words I’m afraid, but sending so much love to you all. Thank you A for another stonker of a post

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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