Infertility, conceiving and guilt

The first couple of weeks of parenthood are indescribable… Full of love, running on adrenaline, terrified of something so small and helpfless, so incredibly tired. Did I mention love? And adrenaline?

For me, looking at this new baby in my arms, I was in awe. Awe that I was finally a mother. For some struggling to get pregnant, their journey is much longer than mine (which was not quite 3 years to conceive). For others, it takes less time but still longer than they anticipated. I remember sighing in exasperation after reading on Facebook that a friend was frustrated with how long it took her to get pregnant… I think it was something like 3 months. And yet, there are some who may read my blog with the same sigh (or cries) of exasperation, thinking “she thinks 3 years is a long time….” or “she doesn’t know struggle until she’s experienced IVF or [fill in the blank].”

When I was longing to get pregnant, I heard/read so many complaints by those who were pregnant or parenting. I would think to myself “they don’t know how lucky they are.” My pregnancy wasn’t the easiest. Those who know me best know just how much I love food. I couldn’t wait to be pregnant so I could use the excuse “I am eating for 2.” That was not to be… I actually weighed less after giving birth than I did when I first got pregnant because of how sick I was during pregnancy. There was no such thing as “morning sickness” for me. It was more like “all day and night” sickness. And it lasted most of my pregnancy. I was sick more times than I can count (the most memorable probably being the time in the middle of a restaurant in Chicago… Embarrassing… Or in the middle of my church’s parking lot. Or in my front garden – twice).

At the beginning of the pregnancy, when the sickness was at its worst, I would find myself heaving into the toilet all the while thinking “be thankful… be thankful… be thankful…” Some days were incredibly difficult, but my struggles in trying to conceive made me appreciate the moments of pregnancy that much more. In fact, I was so terrified of miscarrying that I took my severe nausea as reassurance that our baby was still growing.

I mentioned that the first couple of weeks of parenthood are spent in awe. While I was in awe, I also struggled with intense feelings of guilt… It wasn’t necessarily that I felt guilty for being able to conceive. It was the intense guilt I would feel when I would get frustrated with A.J.’s screams. Guilt when I would just want to push “snooze” on the “alarm” that was actually my baby. Guilt when I would cry with the struggles of breast feeding. Even though I was intentional with not complaining about my struggles during pregnancy or early weeks of parenting, I felt guilty for just feeling frustrated, tired, challenged or upset. I felt like after being blessed with such a beautiful daughter, I should be thankful for each and every moment. Isn’t this what I had longed for?

Many of those exasperated feelings stemmed from tiredness. I’m talking about the tiredness of being a brand new parent… Going from consistent nightly sleep, to celebrating a 4 or 5 hour stretch. Tiredness that comes from your body healing from delivery. Tiredness from worrying that you’re doing ok as a new parent. 12 weeks later, am I still tired when I am awoken in the middle of the night (or earlier in the morning than I would have when childless)? Yes. But it’s different now. Through sleepy eyes, I look at her while she is feeding and – with more clarity that I had at the beginning of parenting – feel such love.

I’ve settled a little more into motherhood. My head is clearer, my body healed, my stomach void of nausea (and appetite fully restored! Thank God! I had forgotten what it was like to want to cook!). And I’ve had the chance to reflect on my pregnancy and first couple of weeks of motherhood. I’ve come to realize that while I am thankful for my daughter’s life, it doesn’t mean that every moment is easy. I’ve come to realize that it’s ok (even normal!) to be frustrated (and sometimes even cry…). With these realizations, I’ve moved past feelings of immense guilt. Instead, I feel even greater compassion for those who have such longing in their hearts for the opportunity to become parents.

When I first started blogging, I shared a verse that meant so much to me during our adoption wait. It still speaks to me and I want to share it again with any readers who may be struggling with infertility or going through the adoption process:

Psalm 113-4-9

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