On top of it all, it's like the past 3 years of suffering and loss have been erased. I have not tortured myself through infertility for the illusion that baby rearing is full of sugar plum fairies and magic dust. Do I seem fresh off the boat, clear of suffering so that a crying baby is going to hit me like a ton of bricks? Perhaps because I am not carrying this baby that I appear especially naive.
It started to make me look at how suffering and motherhood relate to each other. There seem to be war wounds not only with infertility but also with motherhood. How much sweat did you put into this child? Did you have a horrible pregnancy full of swelling, aching, testing, and panic? Did you have a gruesome labor with all the blood and guts of horror film? Did you have a colicky baby that left you miserable beyond your wildest imagination? Did you go through intense postpartum depression? But obviously the pay off has been well worth it or the human race would have ended long ago.
The common ground is that women go through a lot to have children both pre and post baby. But the divide comes when you have only experienced one side of that process. Those on the side that never went through infertility or loss might feel like taking care of the baby is the hardest part. But someone coming from infertility would take a crying, difficult, cranky, unbearable baby over infertility in a split second. So in the suffering meter, perhaps I am naive in thinking that what I have already been through with ectopics, miscarriages, shots, surgery, depression, grief and despair has already paid some dues toward motherhood. It's like a deposit check that goes toward the full amount due. No, I have not yet been sleep deprived beyond comprehension. No, I have not yet had a child pooping and throwing up on me at every turn. No, I have not suffered panic for a child with a fever or a bad cough. That is all yet to come, but will it really seem so much worse than what I have been through? I doubt it. The fact is that I will have experienced both infertility and motherhood. For better or for worse, that's frankly different that just experiencing motherhood.
Despite all my raising of fists that nothing could be worse than infertility and declaring I am not some incompetent monkey that can't take care of a baby, this talk of hardship still touches a nerve of insecurity in a different way. Since I am not carrying this child there is deep down a worry I am still getting off "easy" and therefore I should be willing to deal with a kid crying and pooping all on my own. No more "help" when I've been constantly being helped by fertility doctors, nurses, support groups, a surrogate, an egg donor...it's getting crowded. More than anyone, an intended mother who has been waiting for her role to kick in needs some bonding time with her baby, alone. Whatever irrational needs I might have to offset the surrogacy and donor egg, I have to figure it out my own way. There is no age old mother advice on surrogacy and donor eggs. Like everything else about this experience, I will have to find my own special recipe for balancing my baggage with infertility, bonding with my DE baby, and the realities of wanting help taking care of a baby. I don't think it will ever stop being a three ring circus.