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 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.

16 comments:

Sue said...

I'm a 41 year old mom to a 19 week old DE baby and you might be shocked that it's not that hard. Exhausting? Yes, but patience comes with age and I was sleep deprived before I had a baby. Do I know what I'm doing? Absolutely not, but I'm managing. I have still not mastered getting out of the house and getting to work in a timely fashion. That is actually hard, but I expected that. I think you'll do great, with or without help.

Shinejil said...

You go, Sue and TABI! Really, people act as if you're about to be shipped off to the gulag, not responsible for an infant. And they have no clue what it's like to have to nurse fear, anxiety, and pain every day. Much more exhausting in the long run, with no positive pay offs, no smiles, coos, growth, etc.

So, I'm with you: enjoy your time together and don't worry about what folks say. I'm looking forward to worrying about a whole new spectrum of things for a change...

Mo and Will said...

I think you have definitely paid your dues - AND some. I *do* think you get points for all the hell you've gone through to get here. I'm sorry people's comments are making you feel less confident. You know what? You are going to do fine. You will be a great mom. Sure there will be hard times, but you will get through. You'll manage. And darn those who make you fear otherwise!

Mo

Infertile In the City said...

I despise with all my heart the "being a mother is the hardest thing on earth BS".

I hate it so much it makes my blood boil just reading about people saying this to you (and yes - I do think that part of it is because of surrogacy - I am sure there are people out there that think "pregnancy" - because it is SOOO Hard prepares you for motherhood".

I was thinking of this the other day, the whole, I will never be pregnant - never do labour and therefore may get a lot of - "you have never experienced the pain yada yda". Well labour is only 12-24 hours of pain, how about months and years of physical pain from this freaking disease that tortures me (but I don't have surgery to secure my eggs).

I have suffered more physically (and for longer) then any pregnancy - so god help the person that makes those comments to me (depending on my mood, I may be able to do the smile, head nod, change topic) or I may do the - it's a baby - try having a needle shoved up you for an hour in search of eggs and then get back to me...

DAVs said...

From what I've read here/seen here over the past while (I think I've been following for at least a year now) you are going to be fine. Better than fine. Other people need to know when to shut their yaps with the advice!

Liz said...

I think that going through the battle of infertility, and never giving up like you have is a far greater testament to your ability to be a mother than a pregnancy. People don't understand the marathon if they have not ran it themselves. I think you will find motherhood surprising easy after all the difficulties you have been through. Don't sell yourself short, these are some pretty oblivious comments! Try to enjoy your victory over infertility! It is very inspirational. :)L

Sarah @ When two becomes three... said...

I experienced a similar thing. I actually asked some fertile friends if people ever saud such things to them and I was surprised to learn that every single one of them had a similar "threat" hurdled at them at one point or another.
I actually was shocked, believe it or not, when my daughter was born or at least went into shock for a little bit. It was kind of like - just add baby - I'm an instant mother kind of thing. Strange - I know. I also wondered what motherhood was going to be like. I totally freaked myself out with all of the wondering if I was going to suck or have any clue on what to do but I made out ok too. You are still in the trenches. When your daughter arrives, you are going to look at things differently. Maybe not right away but I know that you are going to make out just fine.

Not on Fire said...

It is so true that you often get the "mine is bigger" talk. What is it that makes people want to talk about the worst thing that can happen? It does not help you prepare it just freaks you out! The truth is that sometimes some moments will be hard, but the hardest things are the most rewarding.

I suggest that you go for the "Hmm, I am sure that you are right." and then change the topic or walk away.

luna said...

amen, sister. I hated when people would tell me I had "no idea" about this or that or how hard it would be, etc. we've paid our dues, you kwim?

yes, caring for a newborn is hard, but it's what we'd call a good kind of challenge. unlike infertility and everything that comes with it.

I still recommend the doula. ours was one of the midwives that delivered the baby, and she showed me so many helpful things. things I would never want my MIL or uber fertile friends telling me...

Elizabeth said...

Oh yes. The mommy olympics. I agree 100% with Sue. It's not that hard. Sure, I could use more sleep and sure, it is exhausting functioning at work and then coming home and interacting coherently with D and doing all that needs to be done, but it's not hard. I prepared for the worst and was pleasantly surprised. I never considered myself an especially maternal person and worried about how I would do, but it was fine.

Whenever we got those supposedly well-meaning comments, we would reply that we would enjoy every minute of sleep deprivation and constant crying b/c that meant we had achieved our dream at last.

Sparkle Mommy said...

Trust your instincts! This is your baby be confident and you will do fine.

Dora said...

Grrrrrrrrrrrr! I SO hear you on this crap. Check out my post about my mother's INSISTENCE that I will need to stay with her for a couple of weeks if I have a c-section, because I will need 24 hours a day help. Almost all of the commenters who'd had c-sections told me it would be hard, but I could manage. 2 of them are single moms by choice of TWINS who managed on their own after c-sections.

I hang on to what my BFF, who had her DE son last Fall, said to me. She said it's harder than she imagined, but BETTER than she ever imagined. Our girls are going to bring us so much joy. We're tough enough for the hard stuff.

FET Accompli said...

I just read through these comments and they were so insightful. I really liked hearing what the new moms had to say - such comforting words.

Like you, I have wondered if all the pain already experienced will somehow make the tougher parts of motherhood a bit easier. I've had cancer and then relapsed. There was pain and hardship and emotional torment and fear and anxiety. I was fighting for my life. Sometimes, I did not feel human. I felt like an animal, a sick animal.

Who knows if our difficult experiences will somehow make motherhood easier, if only because we are simply so grateful to be mommies. I don't know. But we'll both know, Gcd willing, in a few months!

Jaymee said...

sorry for being late to the conversation.

the fact is that you willed your daughter into being. that is a million times more work than having the dog eat your birth control. yes, we get out of bloating, labor, and weight gain. we however do not escape the heartburn and nausea, the constant worrying, and the mental anguish of having to give up all the control. it is not so much that we escape parts of pregnancy, we just experience them in different ways.

you are going to be a wonderful mother. do not put more pressure on yourself just because of how your daughter came to be. ask for the help and accept any help that is offered. the bonding will happen, i promise you that. my mother has an adopted and a birth child and she tells me all the time that it was easier to bond with me than it was with my sister (i am the adopted one.) she was not recovering from labor, she had not been up every hour or so for the past month peeing, and her body was not coming down off all those hormones.

HUGS

Me said...

Ditto "Not On Fire"'s sentiment. They are just talking to validate their own experience. At least that's what I think.

wespeaslee said...
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