Friday, March 19, 2010

To work or not to work.

I have heard it all before. Can you have it all? The age old dilemma for women after having children is that internal debate to either stay at home or be out in the work force. Sometimes you don't have a choice. Sometimes you do. But either way, it's not easy.

For years infertility stole any impulse for my career. I would turn down jobs because of IVF. I would take a project but wished I didn't have to work and could just have a family. I put off taking a heavy stressful full-time job thinking I can't get maternity leave after just starting a new job. In the midst of all the shots, doctor appointments, and pregnancy losses, I lost sight of what my career was going to be. It wasn't my priority.

Now after 2 weeks of working on a freelance project, I am beginning to think about how I can balance motherhood and work. I keep hearing how there is this divide among mothers - those who work and those who do not. There are judgements and insecurities about both decisions. I hear complaints about women who can't imagine not staying at home and providing made-from-scratch everything for their child. Others take offense to working mothers who condescend to stay-at-home-moms.

I have decided to remain Switzerland on this subject. I have yet to enter into the larger mommy world because we are still staying at my parent's house and our baby is so young for it to be relevant. Isn't it just important to do what makes you happy? Maybe there is too much gray in that idea, which is ultimately why maybe women never quite feel satisfied with these options. It's not just about my happiness now, it's about my daughter and my husband too. Before it was expected that women stay at home. Then it was expected that you work too. Now it seems really up to you which way to go. The judgements and subtle jabs that women give each other only really come from a feeling of not being able to do it all. When you are at home all the time you might feel like your career is slipping away. When you are working you might feel you are missing precious moments with your baby. No win situation.

My plan is to find as many cool parents who are chilled out and open-minded. There are parents who judge or compete or preach or brag or compare children. These types of people just make you feel bad, so I plan to stay away from these parents as best I can. The last thing I want is to question myself, especially with all my infertility baggage. With so many levels of concerns about your baby - a) keeping them alive b) making sure they develop healthy and strong c) nurturing them for the person they will grow to become, you just have to do what feels right to you.

So my newest challenge is riding the roller coaster of making decisions about my career while trying to be the best mom I can. Again, better than the roller coaster ride of IVF. Luckily, part of what infertility has taught me is to tune out the noise. It has taught me well that the definition of motherhood is an infinite amount of things.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

My tribe is all around me

Like I have said before, I wish there was a secret handshake for infertiles. Just some way of knowing we belong to the same tribe. But funnily, as I dawn the cap of donor egg mother via gestational carrier (quite a mouthful), I have unexpectedly run into tribe members all around me.

The day that A. had her final OBGYN checkup that sparked her delivery, one of the nurses in the office came up to me and said, "I was a surrogate for twins." We shared experiences and she wished us luck.

At the hospital where we delivered, the nurse who checked me in and did all the administrative paper work welcomed me and immediately told me she had done several IVFs and then adopted. It was an immediate comfort zone in the midst of this crazy anticipation for delivery. An angel in disguise, she stayed with me, shared her story, showed me a picture of her son, and even the next day brought Mira a present. She said to me, "I know how long this journey is and what this means so I wanted to give you a present." Unbelievable kindness.

When we took Mira to her first pediatrician appointment, the nurse who took all her vitals and did the PKU test told me she used traditional surrogacy for both of her children. "I am the adopted mother and the birth mother is called 'Poo.'" Once again, blown away that someone so random could understand our experience.

Finally, a last minute work project came up and I needed to get a baby sitter quick. We found a great young woman who just graduated from college. As I sat with her one day, she out of no where told me she was adopted and her parents brought her home when she was 5 days old. I shared with her that our baby was carried by a surrogate.

So maybe there is some crazy energy we all put out there that draws us together. Our tribe is unknown most of the time, often criticized and judged, sometimes pitied, all of which makes us very private. But I love, despite all that, that we find each other.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

One month of motherhood

Today Mira is one month old and I see now why everyone says it's all a blur in the beginning. In some ways it seems like eons since she was born and other ways it feels like it just happened last week. Time is moving in its usual stealth way. I suppose that's what it's always going to be like as we watch our kids grow.

The one thing I can say for sure is all the horror stories of infant care are just "horror" in the fictional sense. As I suspected, infertility is way more of a horror show than any crying, pooping, and lack of sleep. Not to say this is all so easy but in no way is it as bad or as crazy as I was warned. Perhaps I will feel differently in a few months, but for now I keep feeling like the luckiest person.

When I think of how many steps and how many people it took to make our baby, I feel more certain that she should be very proud of her birth story. When your child is born via surrogacy or donor, we as parents ponder a lot about if, when, and how we will tell them. I have had my share of panic attacks about how am I going to tell her. How many "nice ladies" do I have to explain to her for Christ's sake? But as I see her thriving and growing, I think more than ever that her birth story will instill strength, not shame or alienation. I hope as a young adult and eventually as a grown woman she will carry that with her. We can truly tell her she was a miracle and that sometimes the more complicated the recipe the more delicious the result.