Modern Stories of Motherhood: Briony Benjamin's Story

Meet Briony 

Tell me a little bit about your journey into motherhood?  

I'm Briony, this is Charlie and this is our story.  


I always wanted to be a mother but I got a shock cancer diagnosis at 31 which made it sort of feel like it wasn't going to be possible. And when you have something like that just snatched away outside of your control.  

So, I had to start a course of chemotherapy and before I did that, I had the opportunity to do egg freezing which I was so grateful to have that opportunity because having not had children, the reality is that chemotherapy ages your ovaries by 10 years and it was very likely that I wouldn't be able to conceive on the other side of it. So, getting to do the egg freezing process was amazing. And when I met my beautiful partner, we decided that we'd start to try pretty early on and amazingly, we were able to fall pregnant naturally which was both a huge shock and just a massive incredible moment in our lives. 
So my journey into motherhood. I suppose, growing up I just always thought I wanted to be a mum. I always would just be a mum one day. And I hadn't really given it too much thought, to be honest. Then at 31, after a year of feeling absolutely awful, I got the biggest shock of my life. I was given a stage 4 cancer diagnosis when I was right in the middle. It felt like life was just taking off. 
I had an amazing job, a great group of friends, and it felt like life was just beginning. So it was just this huge shock. And obviously one of the first things to think about was my fertility and the fact that I might not be able to conceive on the other side of cancer and chemotherapy. 
So I remember it was just this grief and this sudden yearning for something that you had always just thought would be part of your life. And then it was basically being snatched away. And I had to really seriously think about what a life would look like without being able to have children. 
And I suppose at 31, you're still carefree, and I was seeing someone at the time that wasn't really serious about it, and there's nothing like a cancer diagnosis to really get you to think about what's important to you in life and what do you want with your life. And so I had to face the real reality that I may never be able to have children. I've got girlfriends that have been through similar things, and they've not been able to, and it's just so hard. 
And so I was really lucky that I was able to go through the egg freezing process. So literally 12 hours after being diagnosed, I was in an IVF clinic and talking about options, and I said, you know, the most important thing is that you are alive on the other side of this treatment. So we're going to give you a two-week window to do egg freezing. 
We're going to have one crack at it, that's it.  
And whatever we get, we get. The most important thing is that you're alive on the other side of this, and if we can get some eggs, fantastic, but the primary is that you're still here. And so it was sort of this, I felt incredibly grateful to have this small window of time to be able to freeze some eggs, and I thought, okay, well, that's there as an insurance plan. On the other side of chemo, I went through a breakup, so that sort of ended, and feeling like 32, 33 was ticking past, and just thinking, I did actually come to the acceptance that I just may never have children, let alone how hard it would be. It's also really hard to find someone that you want to have children with. 
And then I met the most gorgeous man, my big love, the love of my life, and he's just the most divine human. And really soon into dating, we started to think about, oh, what does our future look like together? And Byron really wanted to have children, and so did I, and we thought it could be impossible, or it may not happen for us, so we thought we should try and just begin, thinking that it would take a really long time. And we were over the moon. 
We were sitting in our little apartment and we did a pregnancy test, and it was just this absolute shock, this ecstatic shock that we had fallen pregnant naturally within a few weeks of trying, and just the immense gratitude to my body. It's been through so much over the last few years, and it's just the most amazing moment. It's your body saying to you, you're well, you have recovered. 
In fact, we're so well that we can carry another life now, you know? So it was really just an incredible morning, an incredible day, and I feel so grateful for my body that it's been able to carry and grow this divine little man who's now in the world. It's so extraordinary what women do, what their bodies are capable of. The fact that I think women ever doubt themselves when you see what we're capable of whether you have children or not.

Women are just so extraordinary, what they go through, what they tolerate, the pain they go through, the whole experience of childbirth. It was just the most intense experience a human body can go through, you know? And now we have this sunny, divine, gorgeous little baby. He is just sunshine, and I love it. 
I love this time together. I love just having – I love mornings with him. We wake up and we cuddle and we giggle and we sing stories and we read books, and it's just – I love just being in it, and I think that's what one of my girlfriends said to me before I gave birth to Charlie. 
During this time, like, don't strive, just be present, just be in it, and that's really my word for this year is presence. It's just to be with him, and everything else can wait for now. It's just about, you know, being present with this beautiful little soul, and it's such an incredible privilege to be able to shape and guide this little human who's already so much who he is, but to nurture him and love him and care for him and watch him grow. 
He's given you this new lease on life that you didn't even know you kind of needed. And go I'm just so grateful for this beautiful little boy. He's just a joy. It's just to be present and to be in the moment. I've just... I just love... I love this experience of being his mum. It's just magical. 
I just, you know, for me, I didn't know that this would ever be possible. And so having this divine little man in the world, it's just the best. You know, I always say to people that are in the thick of a really tough time that there is a wonderful life for you on the other side of this. And life can surprise you in the most magical ways. 

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