Thursday, April 28, 2016

How My Past Infertility Impacts My Motherhood for Better and for Worse

I've never experienced conceiving a child without a lot of heartache and struggle preceding the blessing. So I can't say for sure that things would be different in that case, but I think so. (And I'm not saying this applies to everyone on the other side of infertility or that it doesn't apply to someone who conceived quickly. But it's true for me.)

The Better

Having pushed through so many hard days to get here, I appreciate my son more.

I appreciated the pregnancy more too, so even on the worst days when I felt sick and tired and uncomfortable, I was filled with awe and gratitude. I celebrated morning sickness because it meant I was growing a baby. I got giddy when I finally got stretch marks at the end because they felt like earned battle scars.

And now, even when my son occasionally screeches for no reason, poops through his diaper and up his back in the store, and wakes me up every two hours to feed, I'm thankful and patient and so happy.

When people ask me one of the most popular questions, "Is he a good baby?" I know they're actually asking, "Is he fussy or calm?" But even if he spent the previous evening scream-crying for an hour, I always say yes. Yes, he's a good baby. He's an amazing baby. No amount of fussing could warrant any baby a "bad baby" label, in my opinion. Babies cry.

If I wake up grumpy from a night of much interrupted sleep, and my attitude is already on the floor, all it takes to perk me up is one look at my little miracle's face. I dreamed of that face. I dreamed of waking up to cries. I longed for stretch marks and morning sickness and all the other unglamorous parts of motherhood because there were plenty of days I wasn't sure I'd ever get to experience these things.

The Worse

In case "The Better" section made me seem like the Mother Teresa of moms, I do sometimes get overwhelmed and tired and grumpy. That'll happen when you're with a baby twenty-four-seven and hardly get any personal time. The scream-crying for no apparent reason when I'm also tired at the end of the day is what gets me. That's my weak point (and I'm guessing a lot of people's). One time, I growled at my baby. Earlier today, I was so tired and in need of personal space, I had a good cry because I felt bad for wishing for a nap and time to myself to do crafts.

That's The Worse--the guilt. I wanted a baby and now I finally have him...while there are still so many women who would give anything to be in my position. So it feels like I don't have the right to be anything but happy.

Except that's an unfair lie. As much as I feel deeply for everyone still going through infertility, it doesn't change the fact that I'm human, and humans generally need sleep and time to themselves. Having these feelings and needs doesn't make me any less grateful or any less of a mother. It makes me like every other mother on the planet.

So the guilt gets kicked in the butt because there's no place for it. I'm a momma full of grace for myself. I'm a momma who's proud to have a son. A momma overflowing with thankfulness. And because I take care of and love my Baby Cakes, even on my worst day, I'm the best momma in the whole world (to my sweetheart, anyway).

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