When I started this blog it was syndicated, which means that reporters and others who collect items for the media could use whatever was in it. At the time that was useful, but I’ve just been caught unawares – I don’t know whether it’s because of this blog or not, but am not taking the chance. Apparently, the Daily Mail decided to re-hash our ‘story’ and published it yesterday. For what reason I don’t know, because we don’t take that paper. However, I had a phone call from our local radio station congratulating us on K’s birth and asking if I’d speak to their morning presenters who’d like to congratulate us and celebrate her birth etc. I was a bit baffled and said that actually she was born last year, but they asked me to speak to them anyway. They would just love to hear our lovely story, etc etc. So they said.
I said that it wasn’t a good time – we don’t really have a strict routine, but if we’re not going out, after getting up, nappy change, breakfast, getting dressed etc K and I have a ‘quiet moment’ where she’ll snuggle onto my lap, sometimes taking small feeds, and sits to watch Balamory, as she loves the characters, and Timmy Time, because she laughs at the animals and their noises, and especially at me when I join in with the Owl teacher – hoot, hoot, hoot, hoot, hoot! They are two of her favourite programmes. Sometimes she’ll then have a doze, but usually we have some playtime and then she’ll often (but not always!) have a little nap. But the radio researcher said that they’d only take a few minutes of my time, and I had some rice cakes and sultanas to hand in the study – which I keep to distract her from trying to grab the phone/keyboard etc when we’re both here! – so I said OK. The researcher asked me, conversationally (so I thought), whether the law on the fact that donors can’t remain anonymous made it more difficult for us. I said yes I thought so, because it restricted the number of donors available, as not everybody wanted to be identified.
When I’m put through to the presenters I’m introduced on air as "Linda Weeks who has called for a change in the law regarding egg and sperm donor anonymity"!!! or words to that effect. WHAT? That sounded like I’d phoned THEM up to ask for airtime on a campaign!! I had a split second decision to make as to whether to let it pass or refute their claim, and decided to let it pass. After all, I would like to see it changed or at least relaxed, so I could hardly deny that. Just as they started to speak to me, K began wriggling on my lap and trying to climb onto the desk and crying because I wouldn’t let her. I was answering their questions about anonymity while trying to calm K by offering her me, which didn’t work, nor did the sultanas, nor did the rice cakes.
I put her onto the floor with her snacks and she calmed briefly, long enough for the female presenter to tell everyone that I’d advertised on London buses and wasn’t that weird, or strange, or something – I can’t remember the exact word she used. I said that yes it was, but that was because it was our third and last attempt before exploring adoption possibilities, and it didn’t seem odd to me at the time because, I said something feeble like "well you just do what you have to do, don’t you?"
K was getting bored by now and starting to whinge. She was missing Balamory but wouldn’t stay on her own in the room without me. Then the female presenter said that everything was probably fine for me but was it fine for K? Me being such an old parent and all. Oh, here we go again. I said the bit about when I was 25 I might have thought that 55 was too old too but once you get here you realise that it isn’t, ha ha. Wriggle, struggle, cry, went K in the background. That’s probably what the readers heard. "What’s that old woman doing to that poor child? She obviously can’t cope with her!" I could hear them thinking. The female presenter said something else and I said that I hoped to live another 40 years at least, maybe 50, who knows? "Oh, that’s a bit far-fetched" (or something) she retorted. "Well, people DO!" I said, probably sounding rather tetchy (which I was), so the listeners then probably thought "old AND grumpy woman, that poor baby". Then she said that I must have heard about the woman who gave birth to twins at the age of 66 and died two months later; surely that made me think that there should be an upper age limit? I said that ideally if I could have been in my 20s and guaranteed to live a long life that would have been ideal, but who knows how long they’re going to live? Still, we were fit and active and led a healthy lifestyle, etc. If only I had a pound for every time I’ve said that …!
I ended up by saying that I’m lucky to still have both my parents, and though K won’t have us for as long as we’ve had our parents, she will always know how much she was wanted and will always know that she was loved, and not everybody can say that. (Does this all sound crushingly familiar?!) The male presenter did speak to me but to be honest I can’t remember exactly what he said now, but he didn’t seem to attack me in the way that the female one did. They thanked me very much for talking to them, and I was suddenly back to someone else who thanked me profusely and then pulled the plug. Apparently there was a phone-in afterwards where people could ring up with their opinions. I didn’t turn on the radio to listen. We went back to the living room and watched Timmy Time instead, and K was happy again.
I feel really conned, and disappointed because it was our local station too, but then I suppose the media is the media, isn’t it? I mean, I know that it wasn’t the sort of savaging that a politician would probably have received, but even so although I can understand that having a baby at my age was probably controversial, I thought that we were old news (‘scuse the pun) now and I really don’t understand the sudden resurgence of interest and need to keep relentlessly having a go at me just to fill a 5-minute slot or a few newspaper paragraphs. Surely there are more newsworthy items?!
Then Radio London phoned to ask me whether I’d speak to them because they’d LOVE to congratulate me on the birth of my beautiful daughter!! Needless to say, I declined, politely.