Monday, January 19, 2015

Parenting after Infertility

One would think that parenting after infertility would be the easy part.  I mean really, after days, months, years of trying, of dealing with failure after failure, parenting should be the easy part.  After temping, taking ovulation enhancing drugs, sticking myself with a needle for daily, no make that twice daily, injections just to BECOME a parent.  Parenting should be the easy part.

As it turns out, that’s not the case.

First, all that I’ve gone through, all the emotions, all the let downs.  The day that I found out I was pregnant was a joyous one.  For a minute, or maybe two.  Then the fear set in.  I was only about 5 weeks along.  I had to make it to week 13 for the chances of a miscarriage to drop drastically.  That means harboring this precious secret while every day I  live in fear.  Every time I  pee I checked the toilet paper for red.  Then it happened, spotting.  A phone call to the doctor in tears.  A quick visit to the doctor and affirmation that everything was OK.  The heartbeat was strong. 

As the weeks pass I gain a baby bump.  I deal with the heartburn, extreme fatigue, sore breasts, morning sickness, hunger, cold sores, bloody nose, Charlie horses, bloody gums, headaches.  And the fear remains.  I don’t want to complain about the symptoms, after all, I’ve worked so hard to get here and so many couples out there are still struggling to get to where I am today.  So I have to suffer in silence for fear of alienating those friends that I have made.  I start to show, but still I cannot tell anyone.  Only a select few people know outside of K and I.  My best friend, one other close friend who gave me an OB referral and my mom.  Another close friend is pregnant and shares her happy updates.  I feel my heart sink with every update, living with the what if that infertility drives into your mind.  What if this baby doesn’t stick.  So I don’t even tell this friend that I am pregnant.

Week 13 comes and goes.  I can’t hide it anymore.  Whispers are in the hallways.  People have it figured out.  Week 14 and I can’t continue to hover over this secret, but telling it is going to jinx it.  Telling everyone will make the worst happen.  That’s what infertility has taught me, right?  But I have to.  Hiding it now is tearing me apart.  So I do.  I tell my employees, the rest of my closest friends and family, but that’s it.  Then I hold my breath for days on end, fearing what will happen.  Then I spot again.  End up at the ER, scared to death.  I’m pushing 20 weeks, I can’t possibly lose the baby now.  This is happening because I shared in my good news.  But all turns out OK.  Some of the symptoms of carrying another being have dissipated.  Morning sickness is reduced, although still shows up sometimes.  Heartburn sucks, but again, I don’t complain. 

As the weeks go by I start to get more comfortable in being pregnant.  Sometime in the middle of my second trimester I finally buy the first baby item.  It’s a monkey head with a little blanket.  I sit at the store fingering the edges, loving on the softness.  I give in and purchase it.  Then a pair of socks.  Then as the third trimester nears we finally allow ourselves to buy the crib, the glider.  The room starts to get set up for the baby, although it doesn’t get finished until the third trimester.

Then I am slammed with more fear as I call the doctor in my 31st week of pregnancy with some symptoms that I cannot fully explain.  They have me come in for a stress test to find out I’m having contractions.  Nothing big, but they’re there.  So onto bed rest, for 5 ½ weeks.  By this time my whole body aches as I continue to gain weight, but am not allowed to get up and move to help relieve the pain and pressure.  I’m only 5 feet tall, so the baby is sitting on my bladder and pushing into my ribs at the same time.  I can’t breathe.  But still I am afraid to complain. 

My due date comes and goes.  I don’t want to be induced, and I know the doc is watching me close.  But what if something goes wrong with the labor?  What if my baby is born still?  These fears are so real that I can taste them.  I have now felt this baby move for months, I have fallen in love, as has K.  But what if. 

I go into labor.  For the one time during my quest to parenthood I am able to allow my body to do what it was meant to do.  The fear is there, but hidden in the back of my mind for now.  Finally.  Labor is long and difficult (29 hours).  They have to break my water and break scar tissue.  I am on oxygen.  We deal with the baby’s heart rate dipping.  We have internal monitoring and they mention possible c-section.  I am so afraid to let it go longer, but want to do this the old fashioned way.  Finally, she is ready to come meet us.  A vacuum is used, but no big deal.  It’s a girl.  She’s beautiful as they lay her on my chest in all her red faced screaming glory.  She is ours.  She is love.  SHE is the reason that we went through the treatments, the medications, the injections, the pain, the fear, the marriage almost lost.  She is amazing.

She is running a fever and very jaundiced.  She ends up in NICU for 2 days.  I am so afraid, but thankful that her issues are minor.  She is released less than 24 hours after I am.  We never even left the hospital, she goes home with us.   

Now it should be easy, right?

We struggle with breastfeeding.  It’s not easy, but I was warned, I thought I was prepared for this. 

Now we are at home, with a newborn.  We want to do everything right.  She wants to nurse, but falls asleep at the breast.  After 1 day we call the pediatrician in tears – she hasn’t had a wet diaper.  They want to see her.  They are very pro breastfeeding, but he tells me we HAVE to give her a couple of ounces of pumped breastmilk in a bottle.  We have to KNOW that she is getting some.  She drinks it that night.  Next day still not enough diapers.  They check her bilirubin levels again and tell us to keep it up.

Now we’re exhausted, and our little miracle screams.  All day.  All night.  She won’t sleep, which means I don’t sleep.  She wants to nurse, All.  Day.  Long.  But it hurts to nurse, because she doesn’t have a good latch.  So I almost give up.  K says it’s OK to give up.  But I WON’T.  I refuse.  I want her to have this, I want to have this.  So we continue on.  We use an SNS, we use a nipple shield.  I pump daily to make sure she’s getting enough.

After weeks I feel like I’m going to break down.  But I can’t complain, because there are others behind me that are still trying to do this, and they DON’T WANT TO HEAR IT.  They don’t want to hear how TOUGH it is being a parent.  They’ve made the same promises I did when dealing with treatment.  They just KNOW that it won’t be this hard on them, so why is this hard for me?  I can hear their voices in my head asking me this.

By the time she is a month old, I feel broken.  Maybe this was why I wasn’t meant to be a mother.  I can’t handle it.  I think, and people tell me, that crying is normal.  But I know it must be something else.  A baby screaming all day and not sleeping at all is not normal.  But I can’t hardly think straight because I’m so tired.  I fear going back to work in a few weeks.  How will I ever make it?

But still, I can’t complain.  Because I’m infertile.  Because I’ve PROMISED that I won’t complain.  I’ve BEGGED to have this.  I’ve PRAYED to be blessed with this child.  So I can’t complain.  There are others who are still out there, trying for their miracle.  There are others that would sneer at me for complaining about this wonderful life I now have.  They are there, in the background, just waiting for the moment that I mess up and break down.

At 4 weeks old our little girl is diagnosed with Reflux.  At 5 weeks old she starts medication.  By 6 weeks she is a whole new baby.  I am finally able to mostly wean from the nipple shield.  She even starts taking a bottle.  From K only, not me.  By the time I go back to work, things have settled down some.

She never did become a good sleeper.  At 4 1/2 she's finally getting better.  There have been days, weeks, where I thought I would lose my mind due to lack of sleep.  I took days off of work and took her to daycare, just so that I could go home and sleep.  I started this blog sometime around her 5th month.  While some of my followers were IF followers, some of them were not.  Some were and have come out on the other side.  I allowed myself to open up on this blog more so than anywhere else.  I allowed myself that chance to complain as non infertile mothers are allowed when they struggle with parenthood. 

Parenting after Infertility provides it’s own unique set of circumstances.  Fertile mothers are allowed to complain through all these trials and tribulations.  They are allowed to have moments where they dislike being pregnant, or where they have to put their baby down and go into another room.  Infertile parents are put on a pedastol.  We asked for this, so we have to take it in stride, with no complaints.  We have to accept that we begged for this, so complaining puts a stigma on your head.  It shouldn’t be like this. 

Parenting is HARD.  I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  There are so many beautiful moments, but there are difficult, heart breaking moments as well.

2 children born now, after the throws of infertility.  When I first wrote this she was not even 2 yet.  Now we have a son who will be 2 very soon.  He too made for difficulties, but nothing compared to her - nothing compared to even how she still is.  He had reflux that was more difficult to treat, we spent hours bouncing on the exercise ball to calm his nerves and reflux.  But he was not soothed by nursing to the extent that she was.  Which was the one thing that by his birth I knew how to do well.

Parenting after infertility should not be the journey that it is.  Most parents feel this isolation that I speak of, this thought that everything should be perfect.

Please know, it's not, and it's not supposed to be.  I know we asked for this, we begged for this, we cleared out our savings and our sanity for this.  That doesn't mean it's going to be easy.  That doesn't mean that we'll love every Godforsaken moment of it.  Because there's a reality in there that we aren't recognizing, that is as true for us infertiles as it is for the rest of the world.

That reality my fellows, is that parenting is HARD.

But I promise, it's the most rewarding thing that you'll ever do.

For once - it will meet that expectation.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing. I too have a new baby after 2 miscarriages. I say many of the same things to myself. Even though I know it's not really true. It's still hard!