Monday, September 28, 2009

"You are going to be shocked"

When both my mother and mother-in-law said in unison, "You are going to be SHOCKED" as to how hard it is to take care of a baby, I laughed along with them. When people around me said your life will never be the same, I laughed along with them. When people suggested getting a doula or a night nurse, I fully embraced the idea of help. I am the first to admit that I have no idea what I am doing. But somehow this weekend when I was being told once again by family how hard this is going to be and they will worry about me if I don't get help, I began to feel a little defensive. Um, why is this going to be especially hard for me and not others? Why would I not be able to handle this as well as other people? Why am I being constantly warned as if there is a choice in the matter at this point. There is no return policy.

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'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.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Drum roll....

It's a girl!!!!!!!!!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Halfway there

Rainy gray days like today are meant for writing. Also a good cup of tea with creamy milk. It's also a day to remember. Today is 9/11 of course and being a New Yorker you always have to take pause and remember. I will never forget that morning, waking up and turning the TV on just to check the weather. It's always something simple like that. You intend on doing something so normal, so everyday, so boring and boom, you get slapped in the face. The two towers firing up the TV screen with their ailing billows of smoke. Tower one falls. "Holy fuck." We sat stunned, watching outside my window as the streams of people run up from the Wall Street area. Just as we were about to go outside, we turned to the TV screen. Tower two falls.

Life is crazy that way in that you never know what you are going to wake up to. One day those two towers were there, always a good tall visual aid to orient you if you were lost in the city, the next day obliterated. One day someone I loved was alive, the next day dead. One day I thought I was pregnant, the next day not anymore. I have to say I've had a lot of loss in my life since those towers fell. So I can say with great relief that I've been a rather boring blogger these days. I have felt like infertility and pain haven't been at the forefront of my mind. I am just living. What a lovely luxury to finally be able to do that knowing that I have a baby to look forward to with none of the physical ailments that go with it. It's like I am coasting on a boat and only when a fog horn blows or a seagull caws that I notice how far we have been moving. Today is like seeing a lighthouse. We are 20 weeks, the halfway mark. The rough waters I hope are really behind me.

The halfway point is always a breather - being able to look equally behind you and ahead of you. I never had that during all my IVFs. There was never a halfway juncture where you could measure how much more you needed to endure. You never knew when it was all going to be over. You never could breath and orient yourself to where you are in the process. There are no beginnings, middles, or ends when you are faced with infertility. It's just a constant sense of limbo. I remember feeling that so acutely and being enraged that I had to live my life with no lifeboats in sight.

So now that I am entering into the second half of this pregnancy, it's a funny thing to not be pregnant. I would be showing now and perhaps someone might offer me a seat on the subway and I might get asked by strangers how far along I am. But since I am physically no different than I was when I started this journey, I don't get asked anything. Nothing is offered to me and no one treats me any differently. But that's really all I can observe since I never have been big belly pregnant and therefore have no idea how life changes in terms of how the world treats you. All of my imagined ideas of how people treat pregnant women come from TV or sitting near a pregnant person. That's about it. So in some ways I really am not missing out on much. I have remained a strong believer in this whole pregnancy that ignorance is bliss. How can I miss something that I don't know about? I think my only twinge of sadness of not carrying the baby is simply being able to know his/her presence all the time. Also, people remember to ask you how you are feeling or are reminded that you are carrying life when they see you blowing up like a fat balloon. There is wonder to that, a protective impulse comes out of everyone when they see a big pregnant belly. I guess it's a primal reaction. Just like babies are soft and round and cute so you want to take care of them. That's what I am banking on since I won't really have a connection until that point.

So in just one week we will be traveling out to see A. and will do our big anatomy scan. That's made my radar perk up this week knowing that soon we will know if it is a boy or girl. Knowing that will give me some kind of compass for understanding what's ahead. I realize that in my coasting I don't have something inside me literally jabbing at my ribs reminding me I better get some books on how the hell to take care of a baby. When faced with the reality of this new helpless person arriving in our lives, I don't know anything about the instruction manual. I am like a student unprepared for the exam. So as soon as we find out the sex, and make sure all it's parts are there, I will go out and buy my first baby book (any recommendations would be greatly appreciated).

Again, what a lovely luxury to be speaking of new life when so many perished on this day.