Time and Space

So, I know I have kind of given up on blogging…there never seems to be any time.  But I thought I would give it a go again, as I have a moment to myself right now (both kids are “napping” – older one is kind of just pretending, but I’ll take it), and for the first time in a long time, I feel like I have something I want to write about.

The last few months have been such a roller coaster, that I wouldn’t know where to start to talk about them, so I just won’t.  I’ll just leave it that I had an amazing birth experience with my baby boy, totally different from the complications of my first birth, and overall things have been great.  Bean is adjusting well, and she seems to like her new brother – “Bunny” – and everyone is relatively healthy, despite the various winter bugs.

I guess this post is really more about me, and not my babies.  Yesterday, I went for an overdue massage, and I found myself crying silently while my amazing masseuse, Jan, worked at the mess of stress and ache that was my head and neck.  I wasn’t crying because of the pain, but because the release of the muscles released some pent up emotions as well; emotions about the birth, about the woman I left behind when I became a mother, and about the swirling vortex that has become my life.  It was also just a release of the exhaustion and sadness I have been fighting against for a long time now. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not unhappy – in fact I’m incredibly grateful for the miracle that is my life right now – it is just that I’m tired and I long for some alone time, quiet and privacy.  I would not trade this life for anything, but I would love to be alone for a day, without anyone talking to me, and without me having to speak at all.  I want to read a book, and eat an un-rushed meal. I want to take a bath – while my children are cared for elsewhere, and I don’t have to worry about them – and be able to soak, quietly, without thought or time constraint.  I want to work on a project or have a phone call without interruption.  I want to have time alone with my husband, when we are both actually alert and not exhausted to the point of barely wanting to speak to each other let alone touch one another.

I know these things will come with time, and I have accepted that this is just my life for the next few years, at least until my children are a little more independent.  I may get a small break here and there in the meantime – a visiting relative willing to babysit, a gifted free hour where my husband offers to watch both children, or a carefully planned date night – but it will never feel like enough for me.  I’m an introvert despite my social nature, and I need that quiet time to recharge, and gain perspective.  I get strung out otherwise, and unable to tolerate the noise and the stimulation of the world around me.  I become depressed, irritable, and downright mean, and that just isn’t the person I want to be for my family. 

One 20 minute workout and a short hour with a masseuse – being silently pampered and left to my own thoughts – was enough to clear my head and come home smiling once more.  I felt euphoric and more present than I have been in days.  I don’t know how I can find this kind of space in my life on a more regular basis, but I’m afraid if I don’t, that I will become unhappy and take it out on the ones I love.  How do I carve out this time and claim it, so it can’t be taken away? 

Okay, time’s up.  Both kids are up and calling.

 

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Making room for baby

In the days and weeks after I found out I was pregnant with my second child, I went through a series of panicked emotions – many of which have continued to haunt me throughout this second pregnancy. I know I’ve no one to blame but myself – for flooding my brain with negative thoughts – but I think these anxieties and doubts have made it extra hard to find a quiet, comfortable space for this new baby; not just in our small apartment, but in my mind, in my marriage and in my Bean’s daily existence.

Now that I have reached the relative safety of the 3rd trimester, I worry less about the pregnancy, but even more about how it will be as a SAHM to two: I worry about becoming a crappier wife and mother, I worry about the transition from a family of three to a family of four, about the inevitable exhaustion of a newborn and how it will affect everyone involved, I worry about Bean feeling jealous, unhappy, and/or neglected…

…and on the flip side, I worry that this baby already hasn’t been given the same start as Bean.  I haven’t been diligent about my vitamins, DHA, Folic Acid or water intake.  I’m not doing the prenatal yoga I did the first time around, or spending time each day relaxing – caring for myself and bonding with baby.

Sure, I think about baby each time he kicks me or pulls me up short of breath, but otherwise I am totally distracted from him by caring for Bean, and by the numerous other daily tasks to be attended to.  I know this is normal the second time around, but it still fills me with guilt.  I haven’t been fair to this little guy, and he hasn’t even been born yet.  We’ve hardly bonded, hardly gotten to know each other, and I’m already 29 weeks!  How did that happen so fast?

When I was pregnant with Bean, I went through the Hypnobabies Home Study Course and really enjoyed it.  In the end, my birthing time did not turn out the way I’d hoped, but I was still incredibly grateful for the peace of mind Hypnobabies gave me in the weeks leading up to Bean’s birth.  With that in mind, I’ve started the course again – this time with no expectations.  I use it to calm my mind, and make space in my day and in my mind and body for this poor baby who seems to have already pulled the short end of the pregnancy stick.

Each time I listen to the these intensely relaxing and meditative tracks, I feel that for a short time I have focused solely on doing something for THIS pregnancy and THIS baby.  I focus on me and on him and on us (though it’s still sometimes hard as Bean tends to crowd my mind most of the time), and I feel better for having made the time to do it.

I know it isn’t much, but it’s a start, right?  I want so much to better connect with this baby, and this pregnancy.  I want to set aside the trauma of my first birth experience, and remember that every delivery is different, every baby is different.  I want to stop worrying about what will be and just live in this moment.  I want to enjoy these last weeks of alone time with Bean – who is changing and growing so much, so fast, that it baffles the mind – while still making room in my life, and in my heart for this new baby who is coming whether I am ready for him or not.

I don’t know if meditations and hypnosis can accomplish all that, but like I said, it’s a start.

I wonder if any of you have experienced similar emotions with second pregnancies.  I would certainly love to hear about them if you have.

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An infertile house hunt

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As the summer as flown swiftly by, and my swelling belly has filled up with kicking baby boy, it’s been hard to focus on much more than feeling pregnant and running after a toddler.  All the same, the hubby and I have been desperately seeking to buy a house for our quickly expanding family.

We live in a small, two bedroom apartment, in an area where the housing market has exploded – sadly with buyers, and not so much with sellers – and a lack of inventory is sending prices through the roof.  To make things extra fun, an increasingly desperate and ever expanding circle of buyers is not only sending prices soaring, they are throwing in cash offers, making bids averaging $50 -75,000 over asking (despite each home already being listed high) waiving inspections, and basically offering up their soul to sellers in exchange for a house.

We’ve now lost 5 houses since April, all in fruitless bidding wars, and we’ve basically hit the end of our search and the end of our patience; especially with my due date fast approaching and no apparent end to the feeding frenzy.

It has been a stressful, emotional roller coaster, and being pregnant has not made it any more fun.  I have cried – well wept really – and not just over lost homes, but over lost dreams, and lost special time with my family.  Just about every weekend of our summer has been spent running through house tours with a very miserable little Bean, followed up by a stressful 24-48 hour period of debating homes (all offers due by Monday or Tuesday at 5pm) and whether or not to put in an offer, fretting over how much to bid, writing heartfelt letters to home owners, complete with brightly colored photographs, making our offers, and waiting…waiting…waiting for disappointment.

It has been awful, stressful, fruitless, disappointing, frustrating, nerve-wracking, depression inducing, and all around miserable.  We’ve missed taking Bean on so many summertime adventures that we’d planned – now, while she is still the only baby – and that is time we can never get back.

Mulling over my feelings on all this, I realized that in a strange way it has been like going through a microcosm of infertility all over again…not as severe an emotional ride to be sure, but certainly one filled with many similar emotions: anxiety, loss, mourning, stress, frustration, heartache, anger, depression, sadness, a lack of control, bitterness, and a general sense of feeling stuck

Every week we ride the ride…Wednesday new postings start rolling out, Thursday more come, and by Friday I have my spreadsheet of homes to see all ready.  Saturday, I’m pumped to start, planning how to most effectively utilize the small window of open house times, figuring out how best to work around Simran’s nap schedule (usually the only option is to let her get so tired she falls out in the car, and then tag-team it through the open houses), and making sure everyone has enough food and snacks to get them through the afternoon.  By Sunday, I’m already feeling disenchanted, tired, pessimistic and ready to be done.  Monday and Tuesday are a whirlwind of back and forth conversations with our agent, my parents, my husband, and Google.  Then, there is the inevitable call from the agent…the one where he calls to tell me once again how close we came, but there was “just this one offer that blew the sellers away”.  It is like a condensed monthly cycle and TWW, followed by a that miserable single line staring you in the face…over and over.

Once I made the connection to my infertility journey, I started to think that maybe this is just the way it has to be for us for now.  After all, the road to Bean was terrible, but it also brought our marriage to a more intimate place than it had ever been, and made Sho and me all the more ready to be parents.  We learned so much along the way about ourselves, and our relationship, and when Bean finally came to be, it was like this perfect aligning of the stars…everything fell into place and then we were blessed with this amazing little human being to call our own. Maybe, it will be that way for our first home too.

In the meanwhile, we have big plans to spend the next 8 weeks (while the weather holds and I can still walk) enjoying each other, enjoying Bean, enjoying our weekends, making our apartment as clutter free and functional as we can get it, and just being a family of three before #four makes his grand entry into the world.

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PAIL Monthly Theme Post – “Looking Back”

As I near the end of the second trimester of my second pregnancy, I’ve been doing a lot of looking back, so it seems rather fitting to take part in this month’s monthly themed post.

Where was I one June ago? I was just getting used to being a new mom to my little Bean, welcoming my Indian in-laws into our home to meet Bean for the first time, experimenting with feeding Bean solid foods, and reclaiming sleep – outside of my brief nighttime waking to pump and help Sho tend to Bean.  Actually, in a funny turn of events, my sister-in-law and nephew who were here last June, are actually here again this June for a visit and a summer school program at Harvard respectively.

Two Junes ago?  I was patiently awaiting the birth of my first baby, moving across the country, traveling to London and Paris for the first time, and desperately seeking an apartment in the Boston area.  That was a pretty crazy summer.

Three Junes ago?  Sho had just left to intern in NY while I stayed behind in Chicago for the summer (meaning at least two lost cycles were in my future).  It was just sinking in that something was not quite working in our whole getting pregnant plan, yet no doctor seemed particularly concerned or interested in my fears or mixture of symptoms.  Months and cycles were passing with nothing but ovarian cysts, acne and weight gain, but hey, I was “young,” “healthy,” etc. etc.  Nothing to worry about, right?  We should just keep trying and not stressing and sure enough we would be pregnant in no time.  Yeah, that wasn’t the best June.

Where am I today?  How has my life changed?  Hmm, how hasn’t it changed?  Today I am 23 weeks pregnant with a little boy who I am sure will change my life in a million ways.  I have a beautiful, funny, intelligent, adorable little girl, who makes me laugh and smile every day.  I am pregnant, and I didn’t have a doctor’s help to make me pregnant…this still confuses me on a daily basis.  It’s a busy, happy June.

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Finding Joy

I have to apologize for disappearing from the blogosphere again.  My computer died, and I’d been unable to check anything blog related for awhile.  I just got my new computer, and I’m so ready to start writing again.  I feel like my finger tips have been bursting with stunted opportunities to type and get my thoughts down.

I thought I would write about something positive today…a fellow blogger wrote a lovely post about depression while experiencing infertility and the connection to the joy she experiences each day with her little boy.  I loved her wording, so I’m going to copy a little of it here:

I did know that we were missing out on the one thing I had always wanted most in my life.  I knew we were missing out on an unexplainable joy that I hoped we would realize one day.

It made me think about my own time in the infertility trenches, and the incredible joy that Bean has brought to my life.  I also realized how much she has changed, and how she has become really silly in a way that shows how grown up she is.  She makes jokes now instead of just being funny by accident.

I don’t know if that statement sounds strange or not, but basically I mean that Bean has reached a point where she no longer just reacts to the world…she makes herself and others laugh on purpose and she does silly things just for the shear fun of it.  She will spin around and around and make herself dizzy, all the time with a big smile on her face.  She will play peek-a-boo, flashing a mischievous grin and peeking sneakily around the blanket covering her eyes, cause she knows she is going to get me to laugh.  She will lay on the floor, put her feet up in the air, dance around like a crazy person, and then burst out in giggles.

Yesterday, after a long and emotionally draining few hours, I rode to pick Bean up from her second day of daycare.  I missed her terribly, and couldn’t wait to see her little face.  She smiled at me when I walked into the room, and in that moment every bad thought I’d had over the course of the day just melted away.  I scooped her up, smothered her in kisses, and listened to her excited babbling about ceilings fans, flowers and babies (all present in the room, and all things that Bean loves).

My life without Bean would make no sense, none at all, and a part of me knew this even before she was born.  I mourned it when I was going through infertility…the life I knew I should have had, and the child I knew was waiting for me.  I dreamed about her day and night, and I felt her there, so close but just not close enough.  Missing her, and wanting her so badly…sometimes I would wake up in tears and panic, having dreamed she was there in my arms but she was suddenly ripped away.

I wasn’t my best self at that time…not by a long shot.  As my fellow blogger says in her post:

I was a bad wife during that time, an unfocused employee, and a selfish friend – because my mind was always on our inability to have a baby (even with treatments).

I was the same way, and I understand now that I had every right to be so.  I don’t blame myself for reacting the way I did, and I think that forgiving myself for that time has been an important part of recovering and moving on…a process that started the day I became pregnant with Bean.

Just going back to the moments after my my transfer…feelings of peace, love, and happiness were all that filled me.  I can remember laying in the recovery room, listening to episodes of “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me,” on my headphones, laughing, caressing my belly, and just feeling completely at peace.  My baby was home, and for the first time ever there was a fertilized embryo in my womb.  It was pure joy.

Bean came to this world just like that, and she has been that same joy ever since.

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PAIL theme post time: Body Image

Once upon a time, in a land not so terribly far away, there was a young woman receiving infertility treatments and fattening up like a prize hog at a county fair.  It was a trying time…there were lots of tears and heartache, a general disinterest in exercise or eating well, and of course a healthy dosing of fertility drugs helping the poundage along.

So, I am not the thinnest person in the world, but I’m not the fattest either.  I guess you could call me fairly average, with a pant size that has varied at any given point in my life from a size 6 to a size 10.  Right before conceiving Bean, I was at one of my heaviest points, in great part because of the fertility drugs, and after becoming pregnant I ballooned with water and couldn’t even fit my rings on my fingers after my 10th or 11th week.  As if that wasn’t enough, my skin broke out in huge, painful pimples, normally reserved for teens going through adolescence and men taking anabolic steroids.  I felt hideous, and desperate to start showing, so at least I could make it clear that I was in fact pregnant.

I think my body issues started way before all this, having been pudgy child, and a pudgier early adolescent.  I whittled my body down drastically between the ages of 12 and 13, but the mental scarring of hours and hours of bullying and peer abuse have never faded.  It makes gaining weight a bit of a traumatic experience for me, and to blow up so much, so quickly, seemed like salt mixed into my oozing infertility wound.  Several friends of mine were also pregnant, but of course they “glowed” with pregnancy, showing only in their tummy and curvacious hips and breasts.  They all wore their wedding rings and engagement rings right up till their delivery dates, and each swore their skin to be the clearest it had ever been.

Now, with baby number 2, it is all happening again.  I had lost all my baby weight, and then another 10 lbs on top of that, and was feeling pretty fit and fabulous.  After getting pregnant, I started gaining and gaining like mad, and I haven’t been able to stop.  My first trimester was again full of bloat and nausea induced carb loading, and now, I just seem to be hungry all the time.  I eat a full meal, and two hours later my stomach is growling. I go to bed, and get up again at midnight, with starved tigers running wild in my gut.  I’m trying to exercise every day, but even that isn’t keeping the poundage at bay.  The scale is my enemy, and so is the soft layer of fat around what should just be an adorable, hard baby bump.

And the acne, oh the acne.  It hurts, it leaves scarring and red blotchy areas of skin, it looks awful, it sucks.  I am glowing, it’s true, but you have to look hard to see it under the layer of zits and reddish-brown scars.  I repeat, it sucks.  I want to hide my face under make up all the time, and never let anyone see me otherwise (and I am someone who generally avoids wearing makeup unless going someplace nice).

My body image story…I guess you could say I’m not in a great place.  My body doesn’t beautify with pregnancy it uglifies, swells, and expands.  Even my bump –  similar to the way I carried with Bean – is very narrow and up and down across my midsection, making it less distinctive and shapely in that sweet round bump way that most women show.  I’m not a tall person, and my midsection isn’t long, and none of this helps.  I have a thick bone structure with wide but shapely legs that I’m normally proud of, but right now they just look like swollen tree trunks.  It is hard to feel beautiful or sexy.  It’s hard to imagine my husband still finds me attractive (though he swears he does).  It’s hard to look at photos of myself.

I guess I just have to hope that losing the weight comes as easily this time as it did the last time.  So much weight came off initially in baby and water (and being sick probably helped too).  I was down 20 lbs in the first month and half post baby, and the rest didn’t take long after that.  I managed to find my way back to the gym eventually (not sure how that will happen with two, but somehow I will make it happen), and then it wasn’t just the weight coming off, but strength coming back.

The final bit was weaning.  My body changed forever with Bean and with breastfeeding — I grew half a shoe size on feet I was already self conscious about (and I still can’t fit into my old shoes), and my rib cage (another place of worry for me) expanded by almost an inch (more while still pregnant).   Weaning seemed to bring some bit of normalcy back to my body, though it dwindled my poor breasts down smaller and less full than they’d been before conceiving (again…don’t most women stay a little bigger than before?)!  Ah well…one day I will have my body back I suppose.

 

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A different kind of reproductive choice

This morning I started looking up some infertility information (I was researching for a loved one), and I came across this site.  Reading Dr. Sher’s message, I was reminded me how lucky I was to find the amazing RE and the team who helped create Bean. 

You see, there is a secret that no one tells you when you first start down the assisted reproduction path, and that is that not all REs are created equal.  Some are brilliant, some kind but lousy, some are up on the latest information and technologies, while others prefer to rest on their laurels, and some are just pretentious bastards.  Some are caring and sympathetic, others are cold and callous, some offer options and advice, while others can’t be bothered with explanations or questions, and to be honest…your RE may be an expert in 10 different types of infertility diagnoses, but if they aren’t an expert in yours, you may want to find yourself a new doctor. 

My own doctor was the second RE I saw, and I met with him mainly to get a second opinion after a slightly traumatic first RE interaction (which you can read more about here and here, on my old blog).  Disregarding for a moment the terribleness of this particular doctor’s manner or that of her evil nurse, I would also like to point out that she was also quite wrong.  She was an expert in recurrent miscarriages, implantation failure and immunological issues.  I had never been pregnant, so she went with implantation failure and immunological issues.

My second RE (an expert in PCOS), basically threw all that out the window, explaining to me – in detail – why he felt both diagnoses were incorrect and not supported by my blood work.  He really listened to me, he spent time with me, read over all of my medical history information before laying out multiple plan options for how he could help me, and – a small perk – he let me cry all over his desk. 

When it came time to start our very expensive and very scary IVF treatment, I knew at least that I felt safe and confident in my doctor’s knowledge, experience in treating women with PCOS, and his success with PCOS and IVF.  The protocol he selected was similar to the one Dr. Sher talks about in his followup section, and it was incredibly successful – yielding Bean, plus two high quality frosties. 

Now, I know not every couple pursuing infertility treatments, lives within an easy distance of multiple infertility specialists, but if given a choice of caregivers I would beg you to consider carefully your options.  I have heard too many sad stories of couples seeking help from medical professionals who just wasted their time and money; thousands of dollars drained on bills for procedures that didn’t work, couldn’t have worked, and yet were repeated two, three, even four times.  Some of these tales have happy endings – usually because the couples sought help elsewhere and found someone fantastic – but that isn’t often the case.

So there you have it…the secret is out!  Tell the reproductive endocrinologists of the world to tremble and shake in their surgical masks and latex gloves, and my best wishes to anyone out there reading this who may be struggling with infertility and looking for a doctor to help make their dreams come true. 

Arm yourself in knowledge, be your own advocate, and don’t be afraid of a second, third or even fourth opinion.

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the monday snapshot – Kerri

PAIL Bloggers

Kerri of Uncommon Nonsense is going to open up the week for us with her contribution to the The Monday Snapshot – an evolution of the MMM feature, meant to bring the PAIL blogroll to life by giving its members a chance to feature themselves and make new connections. 

If you would like to be featured on The Monday Snapshot, please sign-up here!

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I’ve been having a lot of these days lately…days where I look at my baby girl and realize she isn’t such a little baby anymore.  I don’t understand when it happened, but somewhere along the way she up and sprouted into a feisty toddler with of love of grass, sticks, and the wind in her hair.  Yesterday, I held her dirt covered hand in mine and we walked together for the first time…not me carrying or steering or helping her to balance…

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Harboring a Fugitive

So I have some news that has kept me offline for a few weeks now…drum roll please…I am 12 weeks and 6 days pregnant.  Yup, that’s right, I am playing host to a miraculous Bean the Second, and hoping he/she is actually healthy and growing well inside me.  I have an ultrasound today, which will hopefully put my mind more at ease, but seriously, WTF!

I don’t know how this happened…I mean, I know how, but HOW?  I was supposed to be infertile.  It was all I knew, all I had come to know…hell, it had become part of my identity. “Hello, my name is Kerri, I’m 31, and I’m infertile.  This is my daughter, Bean, who was conceived through IVF.”

Actually, about 8 weeks back I was making plans to see an RE, and thinking about thawed embryos and whether or not to travel back to Chicago for my FET.  I had zero expectations that I would conceive naturally, ZERO!  When I saw that second pink line, my mind froze, my hands shook and I went numb. I wasn’t happy, I wasn’t elated, I was in shock.

For days after that, there were just a series of sensations that I ever expected to feel about a pregnancy…sadness, fear, guilt, more fear, more guilt, confusion, separation, disbelief, and did I mention fear.

Why was I so negative? Well, I was terrified for starters…thinking about the what ifs, and having two babies under 2…the plan had been to try naturally for a year, and when that didn’t work (which I KNEW it wouldn’t, but we had to try anyway), go for the FET when Bean would be turning 3.  In the meanwhile, I would focus on Bean, and finding my dream career, and I would build a relationship with an RE and take care of all the necessary tests and screens.  It was a well conceived plan…I thought.

It was so hard to feel connected to this new pregnancy, this new being.  I didn’t really believe I was pregnant, and I was afraid of feeling something for this baby and then losing the pregnancy.  I didn’t trust that everything would be okay, that I wouldn’t miscarry and wouldn’t need to pick up the pieces afterwards and go on with my life.  My sister (who also has PCOS) had only recently lost a pregnancy at 10 weeks, and here I was, the supposedly infertile one, what chance did I have?

Though there was no emotional “connection” to speak of, I still felt every first trimester discomfort…I was constantly nauseated, breaking out like mad, gaining weight left and right, exhausted beyond anything I experienced the first time around, sick with a never ending series of viruses, unable to play with Bean or even take care of her the way I usually do, depressed and filled with anxiety and horrible, gut wrenching guilt.  I felt so awful, that I think some part of me actually wanted the pregnancy to end, so I could just feel normal again and continue being Bean’s mommy and that’s all.

What changed me?  I think it started the first time I saw the newest bub on an ultrasound monitor.  I went for an early one, as I was having some pain on on my left side.  The pain turned out to be from a ruptured cyst, but there was the bub, flickering away inside my uterus.  My numb brain allowed the moment in for just a second, and I realized there were tears in my eyes.  This was really happening.

A couple of weeks later, at my prenatal appointment there was no heart beat on the Doppler. Still, supposedly numb, I tried to ignore the sinking the feeling in my stomach and told myself it didn’t matter either way.  I went the next day for an ultrasound, and there was the Bub…healthy, secure, doing just fine…more tears escaped, and more thoughts that maybe I was not so impartial to this new baby as I would have myself believe.

Now, at the end of my first trimester, and feeling far better than I have in months, I realize I am looking forward to today’s ultrasound and seeing the bub on the monitor once again.  I am still plagued by fears and doubts, but I have sworn a promise to this new life growing inside me, that I will be better; I will take care of myself and him/her to the best of my abilities, and I will, given a bit more time, grow to love him/her as much as I do my first little Bean.  I also know that I will begin to show and feel this baby moving very soon, and that that change alone will bring us closer and more in tune with one another with each passing day.

UPDATE:

All went well at today’s ultrasound.  The Bub was not cooperating at first and had to be jostled a bit, but he/she turned and the the tech was able to take all the necessary measurements.  I got the thumbs up from the doc, and the chance to see my little one moving and grooving and waving his/her little hands all around.  The photos I received from the tech, clearly show the baby’s brain, which was kind of freaky and kind of cool at the same time.  It was an awful wait at the office, and Bean was losing it, making it hard to enjoy the moment, but it was still pretty amazing and, as usual, a bit surreal.

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Maiden to Mother: A Journey

I recently read an interesting blog post, written by a long time blogger and fellow IF survivor, Miss Conception.  Her series of posts on the challenges of being a new mom, bring back memories of my own fraught journey from maidenhood to motherhood, and the sadness and fear that accompanied the joy and awe of bringing Bean into this world.

When Bean was born, the love and protectiveness I felt towards her was instantaneous, but the rest – the selflessness, capability, and motherly “instinct” I thought I was supposed to feel – were not.  At this point in my life, I don’t believe they are for anyone, at least not with a first child.

My post-partum situation was a little unusual, as I was hospitalized two days after giving birth, and separated from Bean.  It was necessary to keep her away, to allow me some time to rest, and to protect Bean from the germs and exposure of multiple trips back and forth to the hospital, but I missed her terribly and I felt very disconnected from my new role as mom.  Rather than glorying in my new baby, nursing and snuggling quietly at home, I was stuck in an uncomfortable hospital bed, loaded up on painkillers that hardly masked the pain I was in, weak as a kitten, and strapped to a breast pump every three hours to express toxin filled milk to be dumped down the sink.  I felt helpless, impotent, disconnected and a bit like a failure…feelings that were only amplified when I wasn’t able to successfully transition Bean back to the breast after her time on the bottle.

That was my first week with my baby, painful both physically and mentally, and the fun didn’t really stop there, just the hospital stay.

Over time I did heal, I did learn the ABCs of Bean, and I did come to trust in my motherly instincts, but it was all a learning process…

I learned that mothers don’t actually instinctively know their babies the best, they just spend the most time with them and learn to read every sign and every sound. The instinct part is more animalistic, more practical for baby’s immediate survival – like being in tune to your baby’s cries – but knowing that this cry means I’m hungry, and this other cry means I’m tired…that is just observation over time.

I learned that every mother mourns her maidenhood.  My sister taught me this – one night when I was melting into a puddle of post-partum misery and guilt.  Mourning your life before is normal.  Grieving for your lost childhood and former freedom is normal.  As Miss Conception says quite perfectly, “…before children we tend to live a fairly selfish life. A life based around what we want and need. To go from that, to putting yourself second or third always….overnight….is huge.”  It is huge, and it is sad.  The life you knew is gone forever, so taking a few moments to cry and feel the loss, that’s okay.

I learned that no matter how hard the journey, you will ultimately forget or bury the bad over time, and will instead focus on every smile, every giggle and each new day with your child.  You will rise to the occasion over and over, even when you think you can’t, and you will become a person you didn’t know you had the strength to be.

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