My Musings

Plan B

Plan B (phrase): An alternative plan of action, if the original plan should fail

Our fertility journey obviously hasn’t gone to plan (I mean, who has pre-cancerous womb cells in their wildest dreams? Yeah, exactly) and three years later, I’m tired of solely having hope as a strategy.

Plan A: Get married, have a family

James still thinks we’re en route for Plan A, but clearly we have steered way off course. Simply hoping and plodding on, doesn’t cut it for me anymore. Frankly, we thought we’d be gearing up for baby number two, by now. Once upon a time, we thought three. Right now, one full-term baby feels like a fantasy.

My life is undoubtedly on hold, I have lost count of the times I’ve thought “maybe I’ll be pregnant by X” or “maybe I won’t be around (at work) for Y” and it is heart-breaking. Every milestone, every significant date, without any discernible steps forward. Saying it’s hard, is a complete understatement.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about Plan B recently, and what that might look like. I want to have a back-up plan, that’s remotely appealing or potentially as fulfilling as Plan A.

Plan B: Get married, have a life worth living

So here’s my plan: It’s all change at 40. I’ve said previously, that I will give it a lustrum, five years of this continued fertility journey and then we would reassess. But at that point, it won’t just be our family situation I’ll be reassessing, but everything.

Career: I’m going to keep doing the job I’m doing, until I reach 40. It’s a role that I’ve been doing for a long time and would be compatible with having children. But if that doesn’t happen, it may not be the work that I want to do forever. I think there is other meaningful, soul-satisfying work I could do: volunteering (asylum seekers? Care work? food banks?), retraining (midwifery? Civil service?) or maybe even writing (I could have a book or two in me, who knows). Essentially, if we don’t have children, by 40, I’ll be financially comfortable to retire from my current position and explore new passions. This is the new plan.

Home: By 40 we will long be free to upsize, downsize, reinvest, divest, make a sideways move, whatever. Though we’ve just done up this house, it’s not necessarily our forever home. Perhaps we’d like a holiday home or a flat somewhere. Or to move to another part of the country. Who knows? Perhaps we just change everything, why not?

Family: At 40, we will have to reassess how and whether we would like to have children in our family. So perhaps this would mean fostering, or adopting, or a combination, or neither. Perhaps this conversation will come sooner, rather than later. But if I’m reassessing my career, this may fit in nicely with that.

Activities: If we’re not going to have children, I guess we should spend the time doing things we wouldn’t be able to do with them. Travelling to far flung places? Boozy evenings? Impromptu weekend trips? Or lazy ones? Basically, child unfriendly stuff. It makes no sense for us to do child-friendly activities, in our unwanted childless years. This is where I’ve been going wrong. If at 40 we just know we’re not having children, we should adjust our life accordingly and permanently.

Friendships: I joked and blogged previously about getting new friends, the more I’ve thought about this, the more it makes sense. We all make friends at different points in our lives, often when we’re going through things together – you’re doing life together. But paths drift, experiences diverge, you have different focuses and priorities – and that’s ok. It’s inevitable that friendships change. I’ve known this for some time; the bridesmaids I had when I was 26 are not the same ones I’d have now that I’m turning 36. I don’t know why I’ve been fighting this for so long, why I’ve not realised it before now. Friends are generally like-minded people, but you don’t need to “do life” with those you’ve always done it with. Especially if you’re on very different paths. After a year of solitude, this has never been clearer. Some things are a choice.

“They” say that you shouldn’t make any big decisions in the year following a bereavement – I’m starting to see why. I want to change it ALL and NOW. But I will give it five years before I activate Plan B.

I once had a long and in-depth chat with the ex CEO of the company I work for. It all started because I wrote her an email, a very honest, open email – she said it was one the nicest emails she’d ever received and invited me to her office for a follow up (I’m starting to think that my writing, may be a skill!). We talked for ages and one thing in particular, stuck with me. She said her best advice was always to have a Plan B, purely for psychological reasons. If you have a Plan B, she said, you will never feel trapped (in your job) and you will enjoy it more because you have another option, but are still choosing to come in every day, because you want to. Whether it’s a Plan B for your job, or your entire life, I‘m starting to see the appeal.

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(1) Comment

  1. Melanie says:

    That former CEO is right, a Plan B means there isn’t so much expectation and focus on the path we think we are on. Your Plan B sounds like a wonderful life! Xxx

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