Mrs Astronomer is about to start her period (obligatory male reaction: yuck), which means that we’ll soon know when we can start IVF, and I can do my best supporting husband act. She’s tetchy and weepy, and we’ve both been under a lot of stress recently – both of us are trying not to let it affect us, but by god it’s difficult. You read how stressful IVF is, but the reality doesn’t strike you, and oh hell we haven’t even actually begun yet. We’re not even close. All the fun stuff is yet to come. We’re tired, averaging about four hours sleep per night, and all that’s on my mind is that the injections she’ll start soon will (by all accounts) turn her into a hormonal basket case for a few weeks, who will need my support, care, love and attention, and not for me to do what I feel like doing, which is hiding under the duvet all week. After that will be a large number of people paying deep attention to the comings and goings of my wife’s vagina for a month, a sentence I never thought I’d have to type. And whatever happens afterwards – pregnancy or no pregnancy – she’ll need my love and care. Especially in the “no baby” possibility.
Now throw in a few long term problems. It will cost me just under £5,000 to finish my degree, to be paid next September, as with the Open University, you pay by module, not by academic year. Roughly the same cost as what a round of IVF will cost once you’ve used up that free roll of the dice we’re using now with the NHS. Which throws up a bit of a conundrum, to put it mildly – which to spend the cash on? My education or another punt at having children?
Thing is, it’s not about my ambitions. If you’d asked me at age seven what I wanted to be, you would have got one answer – astronaut. But, like most ambitions, real life gets in the way – in my case, eyesight (an astigmatism prevents me from flying without corrective lenses), the one in 10,000 applicant to astronaut selection ratio, and the fact that there are very few people would be willing to spend an extended period of time in a confined space with someone as obnoxiously potty-mouthed as me. (I have been reliably informed that a week would be a little much). Also, throw in Kessler Syndrome. Google it, it’s goddamn terrifying. I can’t be the star of the show any more, but I can at least be on the field – a dream job would be working for ESA, or the UK Space Agency as a space scientist. A degree in maths and physics, focussing heavily on the astrophysics, is the best way to at least be supporting the team, and help to keep astronauts flying; it’s a route to a PhD, and becoming Dr Astronomer. It’s a dream job.
But the point is, is that at some point ambitions take a back seat sometimes. My wife’s ambition is to be a mother. More specifically, she wants to be a Mami, which is like being a mother, only more Welsh. Even more perplexing, she seems to want to fulfil this ambition with me, a fact about which I am eternally grateful. And every month, without fail, she has an unhelpful reminder from her uterus that biology is a bitch. Every month, biology reminds her that her ambitions aren’t happening.
Every. Damn. Month.
It’s terrible, watching someone you love dearly go through that. I may have had unfeasibly ambitious goals as a seven year old (my, but wasn’t tiny Lost Astronomer precocious!), and I do feel faintly jealous every time an Astronaut does an EVA, or I think about Tim Peake. I mean, who doesn’t.
But at least the entire staffs of NASA, ESA, and the UK space agency – for all their faults – do not make a habit of coming around my house and take turns kicking me in the bollocks once a month for three days, reminding me about my shit eyesight while I lie in a fetal position on the floor, weeping profusely as another rocket scientist puts the boot in, shouting about how it’s not in my biology to be a steely eyed missile man.
It’s the little things in life.