On Becoming A Mother

May 22, 2016

First off, let me say that I love being a mother. I’m pretty in love with my kid. Finally. That took a bit longer than what I’ve heard others say. But then, A LOT of things have proven to be very different for me from what people say.

But before I get into that…I had planned on writing a post on Mother’s Day (not ON Mother’s Day but *about* Mother’s Day). I will try to sum that up here instead of making it a separate post because it ties into a central theme I want to address here.

So… [still with me?]…Mother’s Day. I started the day completely unable to enjoy it because I was worried about my daughter’s birthmother. I kept composing, and recomposing, an email to her to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day. But then she beat me to it and wished me one first. From that point on I was able to enjoy the day. Until it came time to call Momz, that is. I may now be a mother but I also still have a mother I don’t get along with very well. But what surprised me most was the reactions of everyone around me. I got cards from people I don’t even know. [OK, just one person.] My Facebook page was awash in Happy Mother’s Day wishes. Not just my feed but my page (it’s not still a wall is it?). People wishing me personally a Happy Mother’s Day. My MIL sent me a check. Is that a thing? I’m always happy to receive $$$, especially when my paycheck has taken a huge hit from maternity leave, but it just seems a bit over the top.

While I’m grateful to now be a mom, it felt really really weird to have all these people making such a huge deal. In many cases, the very same people who used to privately wish me a happy day because they knew I was “a mother in my heart” or something similar were now publicly congratulating me on my first real Mother’s Day. Despite the fact that people say those well meaning things, their now public posts proved the reality: Mother’s Day is for women with living children only. And it’s become more like Christmas or a birthday. When did that happen? I mean, I knew it had grown but I guess I didn’t realize the sheer enormity of it. Sending extra❤ love❤ to all of you still in the trenches. It's even rougher than I realized out there.

But it didn't end with Mother's Day. I kind of feel like I'm being welcomed into a club I'm not sure I want to be a part of. Not because I don't want to be a mom but because I don't want to be the kind of parent that is the reason sites like STFU Parents and Sanctimommy exist. I perceive a certain level of…smugness in people’s comments on my posts now. I post that I’m sick and all I get is “Welcome to Parenthood! You’ll be sick for the next 5 years straight!” First off, I’m sick. My kid is 100% fine. I didn’t catch anything from her. It’s still a bit early in the game for all that. She doesn’t go out much and she’s not in day care yet. I can see how people might assume I caught it from her. Kid germs ARE the worst. But that brings me to my second point: I am absolutely aware that I will catch everything she gets – and probably have it worse. You – who I haven’t heard from in 5+ years – smugly pointing it out to me as if I didn’t know what I was getting myself into is not needed.

And that’s really why I’m here writing again. I don’t know whether it’s smug parents or something else. But I feel like I am now perceived as A MOM (or worse A NEW MOM) and no longer my individual self. I am now someone who will either instantly understand the trials and tribulations of parenthood or I’m a complete noob who must be smugly welcomed to the throng amongst whispers of, “She has no idea what’s coming.” How I can be perceived as both simultaneously is beyond me.

But I don’t feel like either. I’m just me. A person who has been around kids a fair amount before becoming a mom. A person who spent so long trying to become a mom that I’d have to be an idiot to have avoided knowing about all the downsides. And no, I haven’t turned my Facebook feed into an instant all baby/mom stuff all the time. People actually ask me to post MORE baby stuff. What can I say? The kid is CUTE with a capital C. Something for which I can take no credit. I’ve also been asked why I don’t complain more. More on that below.

I’m still me. I have all the same interests I had before. There’s just a tiny human in my house now (and a few more conversations about poop than there used to be). My reality has proven to be both as expected and surprisingly EASIER than what everyone told me. I’ve been graced with a chill baby, no colic, and because we adopted she is not attached to my boob so the parenting in this house is pretty much 50/50. Which means that no one in this house is exhausted. Do we sleep less than we used to? Yes. Did I accidentally give the cat baby formula? Yup. But we are not sleep deprived. [So that’s not why I’m sick either.] And, yes, I’m aware of how lucky we are in that regard. It also means the kid sleeps in the living room. Don’t judge. It works for us. For now.

In short, I feel like I’m adjusting fairly well to this motherhood gig. And having a relatively chill kid is definitely helping. [Especially since the rest of my life is starting to crumble down around me.] I’m just not sure I like how everyone else (OK not everyone) is reacting to it. They mean well, but…STFU Parents. I don’t smugly talk about how easy my kid is because I don’t want to get (rightly) punched in the face. [Nor do I want to jinx it.] Maybe others should just chill with the unsolicited comments. You do you and I’ll do me. Being a mom is now incorporated into who I am. But it doesn’t make me any less ME. I’m happy to talk all things parenting on posts about parenting. But I still like to talk about other stuff too.

In honor of Easter I thought the blog could use some resurrecting. So, welcome back. This is the Zombie version of Fox In The Henhouse.😉 I always said I didn’t want to write an adoption blog. So I didn’t. I’m unsure whether I will continue to blog in this space – or at all. But today I’ve got something to say. And I’m hungry. #brainz #nom

zombie fox

image links to source

I’ve been “parenting” now for a hot minute. We have a daughter now – or almost. It’s not quite legal yet. But I’ve been hanging out with this kid for a few months now and I definitely consider her my kid. I use “parenting” with quotation marks because there’s not a lot of advanced thinking needed to care for a new baby. Hungry? Feed her. Wet/Poopy? Change the diaper. Crying? Hold, bounce, offer binky, sing. There’s not much more to it than that right now. At this point she is training US, not the other way around.

Given that, I feel a little weird chiming in about PAIL (Parenting After Infertility and/or Loss). Also, the wee kit came quite early and we’re not really allowed to take her out much. So I have yet to experience the torrent of inevitable questions and comments from those assuming I birthed her. But they have already happened on our few outings.

On hearing that she was born 14 weeks early (and that’s she doing great)…”But how are YOU doing?”

Me, I’m fine. I didn’t birth her. I am not recovering physically. Or emotionally. I am not suffering any guilt for my body failing me by giving birth early (not that you should, I just hear that lots of Moms do). In fact, if anything, it makes me feel a bit better that I didn’t birth her because surely my body would’ve wreaked far worse havoc on her. I think I’ve proven that. More than once.

This made our time in the NICU quite different as well. Despite having spent a good 6 weeks in the NICU with her I don’t identify with most NICU parents either. By the time I met her, she was known as the Rockstar of the NICU and mostly out of danger. So I didn’t experience the fear (much) or guilt that most NICU Moms seem to experience. So this whole preemie/NICU Mom bonding experience isn’t gonna work well for me. And that’s fine. But the topic is gonna come up. A lot. So my parenting experience will continue to be different from most of the other mothers at the playground. [Someone suggested that infertility would not color your parenting experience long term.]

But that’s not what I’m here to write about.

So what am I here to write about? [Just get to the point, Fox.] A topic of much discussion on the Twitters lately. Does the pain of infertility go away once you become a parent?

Again, I’ve been “parenting” for a hot minute so if I were you, I’d take anything I say with a big fat grain of salt. Preferably gourmet sea salt if you’ve got it. [Seriously, can someone bring me dinner?]

The answer to this question may lie in your personal experience. This is not about the Pain Olympics (i.e who had it worse) but the fact is, the more you’ve been through on your quest to acquire a tiny human, the deeper your scars may be, and the harder they may be to overcome. Or maybe you are just resilient as hell (good for you!).

If you are in that camp of feeling super-awesome-great-I’m-completely-over-my-infertility then I applaud you. Really. No sarcasm, I mean that sincerely. But please don’t look down on others or dismiss their feelings because their experience is different. Please don’t assume that your experience is the same, or even similar, as everyone else’s.

This may not be the best analogy but I think it works. If you served in the armed forces but never saw combat, would you expect to feel the same as those who were in combat because you both served? Sure, you’re both vets and worthy of the title and respect that comes with it. But only one of you likely has PTSD. A lot of us in the infertility community have experienced at least some level of PTSD. And that makes things a little more complicated. Not better or worse, just more…complex. It makes it more likely that we will carry this scar with us longer. Or forever. And that is totally OK. And if you don’t feel like the Infertile label works for you anymore that’s great. But please don’t continue being a voice of the infertility community if you no longer identify as such.

For my part…I do feel better. I had my first birthday in a looong time recently where I DIDN’T feel absolutely shitty. I felt pretty damn spectacular holding my wee one. That’s what parenthood does for infertility – it takes away that horrible pang of Will I EVER be a parent? But that’s all it does for many of us. I still have the emotional scars. I still have the physical scars from 3 surgeries. I’m still missing a few organs. [Well, I wouldn’t say I’ve been missing them, Bob.] I still live with a chronic illness. Parenthood can’t take away any of that. I still wonder what our bio kid would’ve looked like. Adoption doesn’t make that go away either. No matter how adorable my kid is (she is super adorable and I couldn’t love her more).

In the future, we will be faced with whether or not to go through all this all over again if we want another child. Because infertility robbed us of the choice to just have however many kids we want. Again, parenthood doesn’t solve that. Having one child (or several at once) may, or may not, make your family feel complete. If it doesn’t, you may choose to not go through it all again for more kids even if you desperately want them. And that’s one more loss to grieve. Or maybe you are fortunate enough – both emotionally and financially – to do it again. That also comes with a few pitfalls and trapdoors and potential heartache. Being a parent doesn’t prevent any of that.

I guess, in short, I view this all as a process. I personally don’t think it ends. Certainly it won’t for me. It is a grieving process – it may get better over time (and generally does) but it will also suck monumentally at random moments along the way. Usually when you least expect it. That’s how it works for my grief over losing Pops.

So yeah, my kid makes me feel awesome. Even when she’s screaming her damn head off. Well, I feel horrible for her when she does that but I feel awesome that I’m the one who gets to try and soothe her. I also feel awesome when I get to listen to Right Guy sing to her to calm her down, like he’s doing right now. But she doesn’t heal my scars. She definitely doesn’t grow me new organs. And she doesn’t make my health magically better.

So yeah, it gets better. But it still also sucks. Humans are complicated like that.

Conflicting Emotions

Last Night

July 7, 2015

If you follow me on twitter then you know I’ve been tweeting about my bizarre dreams lately. Ordinarily I don’t remember my dreams. But I’ve been on an anti-depressant/anti-anxiety med for the past few months and those always make my dreams weird and memorable. Here are some tidbits from last night because it’s too much for 140 characters. There were multiple dreams so some of these are connected and some are not.

I somehow ended up on the telephone with a Hillary staffer after getting a 404 (page cannot be found) on her website while searching for the word “research.”

FIL, Momz and Tiger Woods all made an appearance.

FIL picked up a waitress in a restaurant and lectured me about being aloof and difficult to get to know.

Momz somehow had a topless photo of me and a friend on her phone. [Note: my mother barely knows how to use her cell phone]

Some random dude was hiding in the backseat of Momz’ car. I had to text a pic of him to the police. Which is how I found the above photo. Then I kept trying to get back to another photo I found that I wanted to send to my phone but I couldn’t find it.

I kept trying to escape Momz and FIL (they were not together) to get back to my friends. When I finally escaped to find my friends Tiger Woods appeared.

Has anyone found the theme yet? Perhaps it helps if you’ve been following along recently – or somehow living in my brain – but the theme is that I keep trying to get somewhere or accomplish something and I keep running into obstacles or getting stuck in a loop.

mcescher

Dream interpretation. Not so difficult.

Even with forward momentum on the adoption front I still feel like I’m going nowhere.

Coloring

May 28, 2015

Hello there bleeps and tweeps. I’m still here. I just don’t seem to have much to say recently.

What have I been up to, you ask? Not much. Slowly working on adoption paperwork. And coloring.

Yes, I said COLORING.

There’s been a recent move to get adults to color. For some it helps with depression and anxiety. I’m not sure how much it helps me but I enjoy doing it.

So this is what I’ve been up to.

image

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[Note: Designs not mine. I just colored.]

And here’s what’s next (please ignore the cat hair).
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Every year I write a post for National Infertility Awareness Week. Here are posts from the past: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010.

Whew. I’ve been at this a good long while.

Somewhere along the way Resolve started adding themes for bloggers to write about. This year it is You Are Not Alone.

Let’s say that again: YOU. ARE. NOT. ALONE.

But I know you feel alone. Even if you know you’re not.

And instead of me trying to articulate why we all feel alone despite knowing that we are not, I am going to turn you over to some other bloggers who have already expressed it.

Jay, aka The Two Week Wait, sums it up nicely here: You Are Not Alone…Even Thought It Sometimes Feels That Way.

As does Angela, aka Rad Kitten, in her post: You Are Not Alone.

And Jess over at It’s Just A Box of Rain in her post: My life raft #NIAW.

And then there’s Jen who wrote: NIAW: You Are Not Alone. Then Why Am I So Lonely?

And one last one, a blog I just discovered because of NIAW, titled waiting for baby bird wrote this post that totally made me cry: You Are Not Alone: Flying Together with Broken Wings.

See the theme yet?

There are two.

One is simply to let others know that YOU.ARE.NOT.ALONE. To all those suffering in silence that if you can find the courage to talk about it and find your tribe it will get a little easier.

But the other theme I see in all these posts is a bit darker. For those of us who do talk about it. For those of us who have already found our tribe. For those of us who intellectually know that we are not alone.

We still feel alone.

Every story is unique. Every path has its own debris to clear that is not exactly like the debris on someone else’s path. And every path finds its own end. Some end with a pot of gold. Others a rainbow. And some paths…just keep going.

You are not alone. But it’s OK that you feel that way.

You Need A New Doctor

March 13, 2015

So my friend Jen over at Jennifer Rutner: Infertility and Reproductive Rights Advocate has launched a new tumblr called You Need A New Doctor.

I’m not anti-doctor – I mean, I live with one – but I’ve definitely seen a few that were, um, not so stellar physicians. As George Carlin used to say, “By process of elimination, somewhere in the world is the world’s worst doctor… And someone has an appointment to see him tomorrow.”

I really hope it’s not you.

But if it was, head on over to http://youneedanewdoctor.tumblr.com/ and tell us ALL about it.

Where do I fit?

January 22, 2015

Sometimes I really struggle with my infertile identity. Not to mention integrating that identity within the rest of me. (Yes, I have a whole other life, I swear.) You might be surprised to hear that I struggle to find my place because there are so many places I can go since I’ve been around the Infertility Block many times. But here’s why:

In the land of ALL THINGS INFERTILITY (ie. General Infertility, Disease Specific Infertility, Loss of Babies & Organs) I most closely identify with other women who have had ectopic pregnancies. And yet, I often don’t fit well with them for two reasons: 1. I had a rare non-tubal ectopic pregnancy and 2. I identify more closely with abortion than miscarriage in the treatment of my two ectopic pregnancies. The latter is generally not a popular opinion so I’m unable to express it often.

The next group I most closely identify with is the hysterectomy crowd. Again, I don’t fit so well there either. Why not? Because apparently a large part of the hysterectomy experience is grieving the loss of your uterus or wrapping your mind around the fact that it was “ripped out” of you. Well…I do grieve the loss but I lost it long before it was removed. And I happily evicted it because it kept trying to kill me. See also: it wasn’t my first (or 2nd, or 3rd, or…) surgery or even my most emotional one. I’m down so many organs at this point it’s difficult to mourn the physical absence of something that never served me (appendix, fallopian tubes, uterus…). So…strike two.

I’m childless. But I intend to adopt.

I attempted surrogacy. But it failed.

I intend to adopt. But haven’t yet.

I have endometriosis. But I’ve always felt like I got off light as there are so many women with way worse symptoms than I ever had.

I’m not actively pursuing any route to parenthood at this moment.

I’m not…anything. I’m just wandering the cafeteria looking for my peeps. A bunch of them are waving me over but when I go sit with them I often end up feeling even more alone as I realize that my experience was not really their experience. I know everyone’s experience is unique but I still crave the “Me too.” And I’m lucky to have so many people saying, “Come sit by me.”

And yet, sometimes the only place I feel comfortable is alone.

mean girl alone

Maybe the real problem is that I refuse to wear pink on Wednesdays. I hate pink.

But also hate being whiny. Conundrum.

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