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.

Silly Sunday

May 11, 2014

Today is Mother’s Day in the US and Canada (perhaps other countries as well?). It’s a day I’ve struggled with for a long long time. Long before infertility.

For many infertile women this day is hard because they long to be celebrated as a mother. That’s true for me. But many women suffering in that way can still find some small joy in celebrating their own mothers. I cannot.

I have a mother. She loves me. In her own unique way. She tries. Especially in recent years she has tried harder and put forth extra effort to repair our relationship. I realize that many don’t have mothers that try. And many have lost their mothers to disease/addiction/trauma/tragedy/old age. I am lucky to have a mother that tries. But the scars from the past are not so easily forgotten. And for all her trying…she still often falls short in my eyes.

Perhaps I’m too hard on her. Perhaps I should thank her for my fierce independence which was born from her lack of nurturing and her abundance of discipline. Perhaps I should thank her for my feminisminspired directly by her despite her being anti-feminist.

All I know is that, at 40 years old, I still find it very difficult to celebrate her.

I often feel that struggle is harder. I know in my heart I will be a mother to a child. I know in my heart that I’ve been the best mother to my six embryos that my body would allow. But I don’t know that I will ever like or respect my mother for who she is.

And I guess I just haven’t yet made peace with that.

Marking Time

May 9, 2013

Despite the fact that I always loved History, dates are not exactly my thing. I do a pretty good job of remembering birthdays and such but I typically pay less attention to other dates. Like anniversaries. Because of this I am likely to eventually forget exact dates of things that are painful – Like EDDs (Estimated Due Dates for those who don’t know) of lost pregnancies and death dates.

Given my propensity to forget these kinds of dates why does the universe choose to mock me by having them coincide with other dates or events that I DO remember (or am slapped in the face with)?

Pregnancy #1 – The Zombabies – We found out the pregnancy was ectopic on Right Guy’s birthday, which we spent in the ER. The EDD for that pregnancy? The day after Mother’s Day. This year, that date is today.

Pregnancy #2 – Tubaby – EDD was exactly one week before Father’s Day.

Pops’ death – He died the day before Father’s Day. Also, he and I had the same birthday.

astronomical clock, prague

Last year I tried like hell to reclaim Right Guy’s birthday and I think I did a decent job of creating new memories. I had spent his previous birthday away from him doing a long distance FET and was actually rather thankful not to have had to face that anniversary with him. So I tried to make up for that, and my body’s failure, last year. There’s hope for reclaiming that day.

As for my birthday, I’ve just decided to move it one day forward or backward each year – whichever is more convenient. That’s been working so far.

But Mother’s Day? And Father’s Day? Absolute shitstorms. Not only does it remind us of what we do not yet have, it’s also a reminder of all we’ve lost along the way.

Where are the holidays that remind you what you have right now?

Oh yeah, Thanksgiving. It’s a looong way off. And I always spent it with Pops.

Despite the negative tone of this post, I am not (yet) freaking out or despondent about the impending Mother’s Day. I don’t know whether that means I’m dealing with things better or if there will be a breakdown that comes out of nowhere.

It seems like infertility is all about time. Right now I just want to throw out all the clocks and all the calendars.

Momz Part 2

May 10, 2010

So. I did it. And I survived. I’m somewhat bruised, but I survived. Fortunately, even though my father was not really much help, one of his friends was around to help me. My counselor had suggested that since Right Guy would be working today and couldn’t be there that I have someone or something planned to help me feel better after talking with Momz. Pops is always hit or miss with his moods these days but he is normally who I would turn to so that was my plan. But he was a bit of a miss today. But two of his friends were over for dinner (it’s a weekly Sunday night get together) and those two are kind of surrogate fathers to me – they helped him raise me. So that was good.

I told her. I pretty much spit out all the facts and waited to see how she would react. Perhaps I should have done it in phases. There are essentially two news items for her to react to: (1)my condition and the health issues and (2) the fact that we are trying to get pregnant. If I knew I wanted her to react to the first item first perhaps I should have held off on the second. But no, I’m a glutton for punishment and I set myself up big time. My bad. I really should know better.

Of course she reacted first to the news that we are actively trying to get pregnant. While not married. That was the VERY FIRST THING out of her mouth “What about marriage?” As if a little thing like a legal document that I don’t even care about matters in this situation. Will a marriage certificate get me pregnant? I don’t think so. Will the few eggs I have left care whether or not we’re married? Doubtful. Will his sperm stop to knock on the egg’s door and request a marriage certificate before entering? Not f*cking likely. Will marriage prevent me from getting osteoperosis? Nope. But I still had to spend about 20 minutes justifying not being married.

And then she asked a strange question. I’m pretty sure it was not idle curiosity. She wanted to know if we were… ahem… doing this at home or were there ‘procedures’ involved. I could be mistaken but I feel fairly confident that she wanted to know whether I was actively sinning by having sex with the man who lives in my house or if we were being good Christians and having my doctor inseminate me with his non-sinful sperm. WTF? Only my mother would ask this in that context. Maybe she just wanted to know what else she needed to pray for. I thought my sinner’s soul was already on that list but maybe she just likes to be specific about WHICH sins to pray for.

You might be wondering how many of my predictions came true? Let’s see….

1pt – She did indeed tell me about all 3-5 of her miscarriages (2 of them she’s not sure about because there was no confirmed pregnancy). Mercifully not for a full hour.
0pt – She did not make any hot flash jokes.
1/2pt – I don’t think she knows anyone with osteoperosis. But she did mention her sister and how hunched she is these days. And how she is now taller than her sister because of this (see Tell Me About Your Mother… to find out why height is such an issue) le sigh
0pt – She did not tell me she was happy that I was trying and although she did refrain from Bible lecturing she definitely made an issue of me not being married.
1pt She will indeed be praying for me. Fortunately there was no laying of hands on me in public or private.
1pt – She showed me all of her natural supplements for bone health.
1pt – Make me feel uncomfortable? Check.
1pt – I did get a hug and she did talk about herself for an hour.

My score: 5.5/8

What was I most surprised about during this encounter? I should have known. There’s always something that, in retrospect, I feel I should have expected but somehow didn’t see coming. With Premature Ovarian Failure sometimes there are known causes. Chemotherapy and genetic disorders top the list for causes. And then there are other things that are not direct causes but are often found as co-conspirators so to speak. That list consists mainly of auto-immune disorders and heredity. My RE has pretty much ruled out everything in my case- including heredity. My RE ruled out heredity because I had told her that my mother went through menopause at the normal time – sometime around age 50, maybe a year or two earlier. Which is true. And completely normal.

I know this because I distinctly remember being in a mall with Momz when I was 16 (which would make her about 49) and she was fanning herself with her hands and in general making quite a spectacle of herself. There was nothing discrete about it. In fact, she even explained herself to the female employee working the jewelry kiosk. “It’s menopause. I’m having a hot flash.” I was mortified. I was 16. What other reaction could I have possibly had at that age? It is etched in my brain. And every time I have a hot flash in public I remember it. Because I refuse to be her. And honestly, the hot flashes do SUCK. But I have never felt the need to engage in histrionics while I’m having one – in public OR in private. Strip naked and stand in front of the AC vent in my own house? Yes. Wave my hands about wildly? No. This story is really hysterical when I tell it in person and can imitate her.

So when she asked if it could be hereditary because she had gone through menopause early I was a bit mystified. And she wasn’t asking this in a “OMG, I’m sorry, could I have done this to you by passing along bad genes?” sort of way. It was more of a “OMG, maybe I have this condition too and they just didn’t know about it back then!” sort of way. She sounded almost… excited. All. About. Her. Always.

Anyway, I survived. It could have been much much worse. And I no longer have to pretend everything is wonderful if I don’t feel like pretending. So I’ll just have another glass of wine and put this Mother’s Day to bed.

Momz Part 1

May 9, 2010

Last week I wrote about my crazy mother and asked for advice on whether to tell her what’s going on with me. You can read that here (Tell Me About Your Mother… ) if you feel like torturing yourself with it. Thanks to everyone who commented. The consensus seems to be that I should tell her. I talked about it with my Employee Assistance Counselor and she thought it was a good idea as long as I manage my expectations. So I decided to do it. Now I just have to go through with it.

As crazy as Momz can be, and as much as she annoys me, she has provided me with a lot of comedic material. I am known amongst my RL friends for having the most amusing Momz stories. So I am going to try to keep the humor injected in the next post. Stop by tomorrow to find out
A. If I did it
2. How it went
III. Whether I’m able to laugh about it yet

As a way of managing my expectations I’m going through all possible scenarios in my head.

Worst Case Scenario: I get a religious lecture about premarital sex followed by an hour of her miscarriage stories and she promises to pray for me and my sins/health issues. Oh and I’ll hear all about whoever she knows with osteoperosis and she’ll try to joke about hot flashes. She was rather overly dramatic when she went through menopause and I remember clearly all the comments “You just wait til you go through it” whenever I was critical of her for having a fit in the middle of the mall and telling every salesperson she saw that she was having a hot flash.

Best Case Scenario: She says NOTHING. She just gives me a hug.

Here are my realistic expectations/predictions:

  • She will mention her miscarriages – hopefully not for an hour.
  • She will make some comment/joke about hot flashes.
  • She will talk about someone she knows with osteperosis. Again, hopefully not for an hour.
  • She will be happy that I am TTC and keep her thoughts on religion/marriage to herself.
  • She will pray for me – hopefully not in public.
  • She will offer to find supplements or natural remedies.
  • She will make me uncomfortable somehow some way.
  • She will give me a hug and say some nice things but then talk about herself – for an hour.

Should be amusing to see how many I get right. 😉

Here’s to all of you who wish to be a mother but aren’t yet. Here are YOUR Mother’s Day Flowers.

At the risk of alienating the few people who read any of this I’m going to now blast another parent.  I adore my father but taking care of him has taken its toll so I previously posted about that.  And immediately felt guilty for it.  I’m very close with my father – which is why I take care of him – but this blog is a place for me to vent.  So I did.  And I’m about to again.  And it’s going to be painful for me and possibly for the reader as well (warning: long post).  My father drives me nuts fairly often because he doesn’t help me help him.  But my mother is another issue entirely.  She’s just plain nuts. And I need advice.

I love my mother.  She’s my mother.  She gave me life.  But she is a … difficult person.  At various points in her life she’s had two husbands, two children and two roommates leave her.  I’m sure that was hard for her.  But sometimes it gives me comfort to know that I’m NOT the ONLY one who has issues with her.  It’s only been recently that I’ve begun to understand, at least in part, why she does some of the things she does.  But that doesn’t make them hurt less.

The issue at hand is whether to tell her about my condition.  And whether I’ll even be able to keep from telling her when I make the inevitable Mother’s Day visit next Sunday.  It seems pretty harsh to plan to tell her on a day that should be all about her.  But it’s going to be a hard day for me.  And, quite frankly, it would be rather difficult to find a day that is not all about her (in her mind).  Let me back up a bit.

My parents divorced when I was young (about 5-6) and my mother went back to school and then back to work.  I’m sure she did her best.  I know it’s not easy being a single working Mom.  But she was really just not good at it.  My brother (who is 4 years older) and I grew up quickly because we had to.  We had to do our own laundry, make our own doc/dentist appointments,  clean our rooms for white glove inspections and at least get dinner started every night if not cook it.   If I had trouble with a bully at school (which I did) I needed to handle it myself.  She did finally call the principal but was told there was nothing to be done about it.  And so I got beat up on the long bus ride home from school every day.

Later, when she remarried, if our step-father accused us of something, we were immediately punished.  Guilty or not.  Whatever he said happened is what happened as far as she was concerned.  She would not go against him.  At least not in front of us.  When my step-father had his fist raised and poised to strike my brother’s face it was ME who stopped it from happening.  Not her.  My brother and I both have issues with her.  We know she loves us.  We never felt unloved.  But we also never felt like we ever came FIRST with her.  Never.  Now that my brother has his own kids he finds that to be even more unconscionable than he did before.  There’s nothing he wouldn’t do for his kids.  Our mother just didn’t share that sentiment apparently.  She was too busy trying to get and keep a job and get and keep a man.  I don’t blame her for wanting or needing those things.  But at some point, it would have been nice to know that we came first.  Even if for a little while.

She and I have never been close.  I was forced to grow up quickly but then she got upset when I wanted to shave my legs or wear make up.  She said I was growing up to fast.  Whose fault was that?  So we fought constantly during my pre-teen and early teen years.  These were also the step-father years.  Once he left and my brother went off to college… I couldn’t take it anymore.  I moved in with my Dad.  At that point she was literally mentally unstable due to the 2nd divorce.  In the long run my moving out was probably best for both of us.

She is also deeply religious.  I had religion shoved down my throat as a child so I also rebelled against her in that way.  We now agree to disagree but I was repeatedly told as a teenager that I would be going to Hell.  In fact, I remember one of those Rapture scares when she told me that if she wasn’t home when I came back from spending a weekend with my Dad that it would be because Jesus had come and taken her to heaven.  I’m not kidding now and neither was she then.  She believed it might actually happen.

Since I became an adult – really since I became mature enough to stop picking fights with her – we have had a strained relationship.  But whenever I have a crisis in my life my first reaction is that I want a Mommy to comfort me.  Despite the fact that she was not that kind of a mother when I was a child I somehow expect her to be that for me as an adult.  Of course she isn’t.  I’ve learned recently that some her reactions to me can be explained through the dynamics of her relationship with her sister.  They are very competitive.  It’s taken me years to realize that my mother must see all females as competitors – including me.  That seemingly prevents her from being the mother I long to have.

Here’s an example.  Height is a big deal in my family.  At 5’8″ I am the shortest person in my entire family.  I have mutant cousins that stand 6’7″ tall.  My mother is the shortest of the three siblings in her family (she’s also the middle child and still complains of middle child syndrome).  She is a half inch taller than me at 5’8 1/2″.  But that’s not good enough for her.  Perhaps I’m really only 5′ 7 3/4″?  Or maybe she’s just a little taller?  Who knows?  Who cares?  But at least once a year she feels the need to stand next to me and ‘measure’ (with her hands) and claim that I can’t possibly be 5’8″ because she’s obviously more than a half inch taller than me.  She’s had this conversation countless times with me.  Why?  I have no freaking clue.

If I have a problem she, or someone she knows, has a worse one.  Sure, if I’m having a rough time, she’ll first say all the right things about how she’s sorry and wishes I didn’t have to go through it.  And then she will proceed to ‘one up’ me.  I made this mistake during my divorce.  I was devastated.  Beat down.  And there was nothing anyone could do for me except to just be there.  When I called for ‘Mommy’ to help make me feel better what did I get?  An hour of her divorce story (the 2nd divorce) and how it was much worse than mine.  Not what I needed to hear while going through that pain.

I don’t think she has any idea that she does this.  I think her brain just says “OK, the topic here is divorce.  Do I have any real life experience in this topic?  Yes?  OK, relate that experience.”  This is a cousin to the “Just Relax” comments made to infertile couples.  I believe many of those people have much the same thought process – “OK, the topic here is trouble having babies.  Do I have any real life experience in this topic?  Yes?  I knew these people who knew these other people and they tried for awhile and it wasn’t until they stopped trying that it worked.   OK, relate that experience.”

The other problem with confessing my woes to my mother is that, once she knows about them, she is prone to asking about them.  Constantly.  Whether I want to talk about it or not.  And she shares everything with her prayer group.  Now on the one hand even though I’m a non-believer, praying for me can’t hurt.  But on the other hand it creeps me out to know that there are a bunch of strangers out there somewhere praying for my lady parts to function correctly.  I’ve been through all that with the endometriosis diagnosis.  I can only be thankful that she no longer attempts to lay hands on me and speak in tongues like she used to do to get rid of my headaches when I was younger (turns out those headaches were stress induced and the speaking in tongues only made them worse because it caused more stress).  Again – I’m not kidding.  Or exaggerating.

So, back to the dilemma (and thank you sincerely if you are still reading – this is long, I know.):  tell her or not?  If I tell her, I know I’m going to have to hear all about her miscarriages (she had several).  If I manage to get pregnant, my chance of miscarriage will be high so I may have that in my future.  And I just don’t want to hear about it from her now.  I really want to be able to tell her and have it be all about me for an hour.  It’s never been all about me with her ever.  So I know that won’t happen.  But I don’t want to hear about her miscarriages for an hour and then have her call or email me everyday to ask how I’m doing.  That will stress me out more.  But it’s also stressful to purposefully not tell her what’s going on in my life.  I don’t like lying and saying that everything is fine in my life.

Oh, mother issues – will you ever go away?  Perhaps I should give up on spawning life so I won’t produce offspring who grow up to blog about their mother issues. 😉

To tell her or not?  That is the question.  Anyone?
Regardless of what I decide, here’s a good article about how to handle Mother’s Day