At 32, I’d achieved most of my ambitions: I’d launched a women’s magazine; I’d written 20 books; I’d had my 15 minutes of fame. But the one thing I’d missed out on was having kids -- and I hated it.
My childless state wasn’t because I was career obsessed and left it "too late." I was engaged to a lovely man from ages 23 to 28 and, while we hadn’t thrown away the condoms, we’d got close. We’d named our unborn kids Kirsty and Jack, had arguments about how we’d school and discipline them and started making practical moves towards parenthood. My biological clock wasn’t just ticking: The alarm was set to go off within the next 12 months.
As it was, the relationship ended before the bell rang. Even though I knew it was right, I cried my tear-ducts dry. It wasn’t just the relationship that I was mourning -- it was the future we hadn’t had a chance to have; it was Kirsty and Jack.
I re-entered the dating scene but relationship after relationship ended because I was searching for "happily ever after" before we got to "once upon a time." I decided celibacy was the way forward. I was happy on my own; I didn’t want a man; I didn’t want babies; I was a feminist, Goddammit. Except that whenever a "suitable candidate" came along, I’d become obsessed with love, marriage and babies once more.
Around this time, my career had taken an unusual, if entertaining, path. I’d been commissioned to write a column in which I had to try something "new, wild and sexy" each month. And so it was that one cold afternoon I found myself lying on my back, legs parted, with a man called Jamie pushing dental alginate inside me to make an internal replica of my vagina.
First, I was handed a vibrator so that I’d be "open" enough to make an effective mould. Next I had to splay my legs wide while a man I’d never been intimate with slid a Perspex tube into me, and proceeded to squirt a blue rubbery substance inside me.
That was the easy part.
Getting semi-liquid rubber inside a woman is easy; getting set rubber out, less so. I’m an advocate of Kegel exercises, but bearing down to push out a replica of your own innards through a significantly smaller hole is a challenge. Flexing Kegels recreationally can be pleasurable. Doing it when you can smell white spirit in the air, and you’re lying on a plastic sheet in a plaster-spattered room is as far from sexy as you can get. But I persisted.
Jamie, who was by now was between my legs with one Latex-glove-covered hand cupped in front of me and the other holding onto the protruding tip of the mould, decided I needed motivating. “Go on, one push and we’ll be there.”
I’d never understood why so many women defecate while giving birth; with enough practice, I’d surmised, it must be possible to separate the muscles down there. Smugness seldom goes unpunished. Luckily, I was spared that level of shame, but couldn’t hold back the flatulence that had been threatening from the third push. And Jamie still had his hand cupped underneath me ready to catch the mould.
I did as anyone would in that situation: felt humiliated, and tried to get the whole thing over and done with. After a few more pushes, the mould plopped inelegantly into Jamie’s latex-covered fingers. My God was it ugly. All that work and it resembled a Geigeresque tadpole. But it was done.
I showered and thought the worst was over.
I was wrong.
I’d felt chafed during the procedure but assumed that was only to be expected. However, when I woke the next morning, I was in agony. The Perspex tube had made a perfectly circular cut around my entrance.
It took a week to heal. I won’t go into the gory details, but needless to say, I avoided hydrating as much as I could to avoid subsequent agony so intense that it made me cry. And then I realized: This is nothing.
My genital mould was tiny compared to a baby’s head. There was no ripped perineum to deal with; no stitches; no baby needing attention when all I wanted to do was lie in a salt bath. It was just me and my vagina: and that was more than enough.
The rose-tinted glasses shattered. Sure, a baby might be cute, but getting it out would hurt. Once it was born, any pain I felt would be secondary to anything it wanted. And what was to guarantee that I wouldn’t have the same feeling of "Is that it?" as I did with the mould? I’d read "We Need To Talk About Kevin." How much worse would that scenario be than merely disliking my cast?
Over coming months, I found myself pondering why I wanted a child. I was no longer fantasizing about the smell of a baby’s head, but instead thinking of the effort, the pain, the sleep deprivation and the responsibility of putting something into the world that was mine to look after forever. I finally realized, aged 32, that I couldn’t have a dolly.
Now, I'm a devoted auntie. I’ll baby-sit for friends and feel the occasional pang if I see a pair of baby Doc Martens. But my baby hunger is gone. I'm 38. I'm in a loving relationship. We may have kids; my body may refuse to play ball and we might adopt; or I might be childless forever. I'm going with the flow.
Auntie duty gives you the joy of children without the poo, sleepless nights and worry. There are endless schemes available allowing you to support vulnerable children. I don't need to make a baby with my own body to validate my existence as a woman.
The cast is now gathering dust on top of my CD rack.
Emily Dubberley is the founder of cliterati.co.uk, the UK's original free erotica site for women.