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Infertile Parenting 101 (Month 1)

9 Oct

(Bla bla I haven’t posted in a while. Bla bla stuff about babies being hard. Bla bla more rambling about the future direction of the blog, followed by the statement that I will just be winging it and a promise not to abandon it. Bla bla, apologies to those still in the trenches, with an understanding that they don’t have to keep following if they don’t want to. Bla bla bla.)

So being a parent after 3.5 years of longing for a living, healthy baby is kind of a surreal experience. Since I’ve been doing it for almost 5 weeks now  (which obviously makes me a pro, right?) I thought I’d share with you some pearls of wisdom. Because let’s face it – though parenting is similar for everyone, parenting after infertility and loss comes with its own set of challenges and revelations. I’ve labelled this post “Month 1” because this may become a regular monthly thing. Then again, it may not. Because lesson 1: If you have a newborn, you really shouldn’t make promises. Lesson 2: If you have a newborn, you will find yourself typing out cliches like the one you just read.

So here we go:

  • You will most likely not break your baby. It’s kind of hard to believe, but once they’re out in the world, they become fairly durable. So chances are if you, say, accidentally bump their head on the corner of your laptop while you’re typing up a blog post (this is a purely hypothetical scenario of course), then you will most likely not cause any brain damage. And no, the fact that they keep sleeping because they barely felt the bump anyway does not mean that even more serious damage has been done than you initially suspected. Babies sleep, and they don’t really care if their head occasionally grazes a laptop corner (hypothetically, of course).
  • You will wish your baby had one of those collars like the dogs had in “Up.”  Babies can’t talk. That becomes incredibly frustrating at times because you really want to know what they want/what they need/what hurts/etc. Therefore you may spend your very rare spare moments fantasizing about acquiring a fictional collar from an animated film.

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  • You will realize that constantly making sure that he/she is still breathing while they are asleep is impractical. Eventually you will understand that you need sleep, and that chances are that your baby will keep breathing even when you’re not looking. And the worst-case-scenario: You have that high tech monitor you spent way too much money on to alert you if something goes awry, FSM forbid.
  • You will apparently never be able to post cynical things on Face.book ever again. If some of your FB friends are even remotely aware of your struggles, their unbridled “I’m so happy for you!” sentiments will be the rainy cloud over any of your attempts to be a cynic about your newfound status as a parent. So if you post a status asking people to ban you from their feeds if you discuss your child’s digestive habits publicly, you will get very few lols and lots of “you do whatever you want! You deserve it! Yay you!”s. And though you will appreciate the sentiments, there will be a small part of you that will quietly wish that they would just appreciate your cynicism and lingering bitterness and no longer single you out as being different. Though another part of you does think that yes, you are different, and how awesome is it that everyone is celebrating? This scenario is purely hypothetical, of course.
  • You will walk into baby stores and actually enjoy shopping there. You may as well get used to it. The places you spent so much time and energy avoiding all those years will now be taking all of your money.
  • You will see other people with babies and smile at them rather than avoid their gaze. At first this will surprise and even anger you. Then you will get over it.
  • You will find yourself doing all the annoying things you’d never thought you’d do.  Shamelessly showing pictures of your baby to total strangers? Check. Discussing their bowel movements and other digestive habits with anyone willing to listen and some who would really rather not? Check. Dressing the baby up in adorable outfits with “gender appropriate” color schemes? Check. Being all “Wait until you have kids and then you’ll know what tired is” to people, even if you only think it and don’t say it out loud? Check.
  • You will find yourself parenting via google. And most of your search queries will be somehow linked to either eating or poop.ing. Because you don’t have one of those handy collars from “Up” so you read your baby’s digestive system as if it was a pack of tarot cards.
  • You will have an app for recording your baby’s bodily functions. And you will use it. All the time. See above.
  • You will feel guilty. A lot. Did you wait too long too feed them? Did you not wait long enough? Why aren’t they gaining more weight? Are you giving them enough stimulation? Is it ok that you’re watching “Top Chef” while you’re feeding them? Is leaving them for 5 hours to run errands and get a manicure evidence that you are a horrible mother? The last two scenarios are purely hypothetical, of course.
  • You will feel pressure to constantly be happy now that you’ve achieved what you’ve wished for. Whether that pressure is self-inflicted or external, it will be there. And I have no words of wisdom to make that feeling go away. Just make sure you’re taking care of yourself.
  • You will not be constantly happy. And that’s ok. There is a whole new person that’s invaded your life. And they’re not really a whole person yet. They don’t make eye contact, they only smile when they’re gassy, and all they do is eat, sleep, poo, pee, and cry. Taking care of this whole new person is hard. And sometimes you have a hard time grasping that this person is yours. And sometimes you’ve barely slept and they’ve been fussy and you just want to cry because you don’t know how to make things better, and you really just want to sleep for longer than three hours at a time. Apparently, it’s normal to not be overjoyed 24-7. You can be tired. And frustrated. And anxious (OMG so anxious). And yes, even sad sometimes. Really and truly – it’s ok. And taking care of yourself during those times is ok too. (I need to remind myself of all of this constantly, and you should too).
  • You will still feel like you’re different.  Your past losses, frustrations, and traumas will not magically go away. They will get a different perspective, yes. They will change color and tone. They will morph into something different. But they will still be there. There will still be moments that you remember and cry. You will see that a friend of yours, who was married a year and a half after you, is already pregnant with or raising baby number 2. And it will sting, because deep down inside, you will know that though most of the world thinks your baby is “baby number 1”, it’s not. It’s number 5 of 5 pregnancies. Or the second baby you physically gave birth to. Or the 9th embryo transferred. Or the first successful cycle after 25 failed ones. Or the 3rd time a birth parent chose you. Your losses are still your losses. And it could be that no one understands that except you. Don’t bother explaining it. Let them celebrate your “first”. You celebrate your strength to make it through and bring this baby home. And I’ll say it again: Always, ALWAYS remember to take care of yourself.
  • You will find yourself doing things you never thought you’d be capable of doing. Like organizing the baby’s room, doing a load of her laundry and folding it and putting it away. Or washing bottles. Or tidying up the living room. All while a baby is strapped to you in a Moby (that you magically figured out how to use). And you never did these things before. Ever. You would leave your clean clothes in a separate hamper that the cleaning lady would fold when she came every two weeks, and then you would still keep those folded clothes on the guest bed and not bother putting them in a closet. You would leave things in piles everywhere. Now you’re all – ORGANIZE ALL THE THINGS! And even though you still suck at it, you’re making an effort. Which is just plain crazy. These scenarios are purely hypothetical, of course.
  • Nobody is coming to take your baby away from you. Chances are that because of the time you’ve spent wanting to have a baby, and because of how hard you’ve worked at it, you’re pretty much as emotionally ready to be a parent as anyone can really be. Which means that you’re most likely a pretty decent parent and no one will come and take away your baby. You will find yourself standing in line in a department store, holding a pair of swaddle blankets, and swaying your hips back and forth. Then you will realize that your baby isn’t currently strapped to you, and is in fact back at home with her grandmother. But she has become such an integral part of your life that you instinctively rock her, even when she’s not physically there. And then, for a moment, you truly get that she’s yours to keep, and what a fucking miracle that truly is.

That’s a purely hypothetical scenario, of course.

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12 Responses to “Infertile Parenting 101 (Month 1)”

  1. someday-soon October 9, 2013 at 18:02 #

    Love this post!!! I can relate to almost every single point. So very happy for you =)

  2. Amy October 9, 2013 at 18:35 #

    Holy cow. We’re inching in on 16 weeks now, and I can say these are all still true for me. It’s amazing and scary when they start sleeping through the night, and amazingly wonderful when they smile and coo back at you. Asher still wears his Snuza monitor at night, but I gave it up for daytime. And I don’t have a fancy app, but I do log every feeding and poop in the notes thingy in my iPhone every.single.day.

    Xoxo!

  3. old one October 9, 2013 at 19:18 #

    And 40 yrs from now you will still sway gently back and forth in line while hearing a small child cry. You are doing great and your posts bring great joy and happiness. Even beds of roses can have thorns…. tell it loud and clear and with your head up.
    THANK YOU for being you…..and sharing with us.

  4. Newmom October 9, 2013 at 19:55 #

    I still check to see if my 14 month old is breathing before I go to bed haha. I think I will forever.

    I just wanted to say that even though I haven’t experienced a loss, or had a hard time getting pregnant, I have really been able to relate to your postings. It’s actually helped me deal with my own anxiety which stems from a totally different reason (almost dying and then having a preemie). So thank you! You are a talented writer who has the ability to connect to people who may have walked a different path. I know I will continue to read your blog, whatever it becomes 🙂

  5. pjsarecomfyn October 9, 2013 at 20:54 #

    Lots of good things you are passing on to others 🙂

  6. Mrs T (missohkay) October 9, 2013 at 21:49 #

    Ha, I do the accidental rocking with no baby thing all the time. So many good points that I will not go through them one by one, but this post is full of nodding moments. And oh I do love being cynical on facebook. Hopefully your friends will let that slide sometimes 🙂

  7. RelaxedNoMore October 9, 2013 at 21:56 #

    Love your “hypothetical” scenarios!
    I’ve caught myself doing the swaying thing or the shopping cart-pushing-forward-and-backwards thing more than once 😉 Not to mention hubby who still asks whether the little guy’s still breathing a couple of times each week.
    And even after 11 months, 1 week, 8 days and 14 minutes (another app you’d never ever have imagined yourself using), I have those moments where I look at my little miracle and wonder how he came to be there and how long until someone will come take him away.

  8. suz October 10, 2013 at 00:11 #

    This is beautiful. My little girl was born 5 days after yours and I completely understand these points. I check to see if she’s still breathing while I’m wearing her. I’m obsessed with her poop. I tell her knock-knock jokes during dinner:

    “Knock knock.”
    “Who’s there?”
    “Titty”
    “Titty who?”
    “Titty wants its nipple back.”

    I do believe she’s going to remove a nipple one day.

  9. fromheretomotherhood October 10, 2013 at 18:34 #

    Love the humor and insight of this post. I hope that it will remind me to take care of myself and cut myself some slack once my baby arrives. I particularly like the points about guilt, pressure to feel constantly happy, the fact that it just isn’t realistic, and continuing to feel different. In the grand scheme of things, I had an easy journey with infertility compared to many, but I think it’s important for everyone to feel validated in remembering their experiences however they see fit.

  10. Theresa October 10, 2013 at 18:55 #

    Yes to all of that! The guilt and feeling different are the hardest ones, I think. I feel like I don’t belong in the “fertile world” or the “infertile world” anymore. Motherhood after infertility is different than motherhood-after-one-month-of-trying.

  11. Vero October 16, 2013 at 15:39 #

    You should write for Kveller.

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