Always, Katie: TTC in the Rearview Mirror: Reflections on Infertility After 15 Months of Parenting


Monday, September 26, 2016

TTC in the Rearview Mirror: Reflections on Infertility After 15 Months of Parenting

During the five years we tried to get pregnant, I had a lot of time to wonder what life "after" infertility would look like. I suspected that I would still feel infertile, that finally having children wouldn't be able to heal all of the pain or rewrite the part of my brain that identifies as infertile.

Now, as we celebrate the two year anniversary of our successful embryo transfer (September 25!), I have a little bit of distance on our childless time and felt like doing a little introspection on what has changed and what hasn't over the past two years since transfer and over the past 15 months since delivering our miracle twins. 

The biggest change, of course: My days are now filled with the giggling and squawking of toddler twins. I can't say for sure that I appreciate them more than I would've had we not fought for them for so long, but I can definitely promise that they are loved and treasured with all their parents' hearts. I'm not lonely during the day (although a little adult conversation is always appreciated), and I don't have that echoing silence taunting me that the house we bought to raise children in was well-below capacity. In no way do I feel like something or someone is missing from my life. 

I no longer cry at happy commercials with babies in them, and Carter's is no longer my least favorite place in the world. I remember a time when a friend took me shopping to cheer me up after a couple of IVF setbacks, and ended up dragging me through Carter's looking for gifts for the baby they had "adopted" from a tree for Christmas. I went home in a worse depression than before. Then this showed up in my TimeHop this morning... that was a switch that was thrown pretty quickly once I was "safely" pregnant. Now I can't get enough of the tiny baby things! 

Pregnancy announcements on social media... those can still be a little tricky.  There are times when I don't believe the parents will be good parents, or when someone has a baby younger than ours and is pregnant AGAIN, or honestly, some days when I have a hard time with it for no reason at all other than that I have emotional scars from our experiences. However... I did get to go to my first baby shower since we had our twins, and had an absolute blast and was unreservedly thrilled for the momma and daddy <3 (Hi other Katie!!)  I knew they'd be awesome parents, but before we had our kids, it still would've been difficult to go to a shower for anyone. So that does get better!

I still struggle with things I see that overly fetishize parenthood.  The same memes, commercials, trite sayings that hurt me before having babies still make me angry.  Yes, you CAN know real love without having children. As someone with children, let me assure you... I knew real love before them. But that may be another whole post for another time! ;-) There are so many similarly stupid things people like to say about how parenting is the most important thing you can do, etc... still obnoxious, and they always make me so sad for the infertile 1 in 8 who are also reading or hearing those things. 

Bad parenting still makes me livid. Nothing can put me through the roof faster than seeing someone mistreat their child. I always think, "THEY probably didn't have to try like we did. THEY probably got pregnant easily. I know SO MANY people who would cherish those angels if they'd been able to conceive them."  It isn't fair, and I can feel my BP and the color in my face rising, so I'm moving on to a new paragraph. Ugh.

I still remember the pain we went through in great detail, but almost in more academic terms.  I'm almost detached from it. I remember a Katie who stayed in bed some days, sobbing.  I remember what that felt like, the sucking empty feeling in her chest, but I no longer feel that pain. When I see someone else struggling, I can feel instant compassion and empathy, because I remember, but I can also immerse myself in supporting them because the FEELING doesn't threaten to overwhelm me anymore. I vividly remember how it felt, but I no longer feel it. That, I think, is the best surprising change I've noted, and a sign that there is healing on the other side. 

I reached out to a couple of my other infertile friends in the blog world, to ask what differences they've noticed since becoming parents, too.

Stephanie at The Joy Parade says about parenting after recurrent miscarriages, "Before my boys were born, I had a lot of "when I'm a mom I will NEVERs." I channeled so much of my grief and my jealousy into judging so many different parenting choices I saw as somehow taking for granted the gift of motherhood - and I didn't even realize I was doing it. I spent the first year of my first sons life desperately trying to be the perfect mother, because I felt like I had to be adequately grateful for the miracle of children. Once I let go of all those years of expectation and the pressure I was putting on myself, it was so much easier to stop judging other moms as well, and to permanently let go of all my "I would nevers" once and for all."

Kayleigh at Oh Ginger Snap and her husband decided to pursue adoption through the foster care system, and has this to say about that decision, "This choice isn't for everyone, and we could have continued to work through our fertility struggle. However, we truly feel that is not God's plan for us at this point in our life's. We have a very long road in front of us that will not be easy, but we also have a huge support system that could not be more excited to walk this road with us. It has taken us a very long time to realize God's plan, but if this process has taught me one thing, it is just have faith. He will prevail and he has a greater plan for you and me than we could ever imagine. We just have to be willing to walk that blind journey with him.

Jenna from Seasoned Sprinkles says, "Now that I am a parent after a miscarriage and a loss, I find patience I didn't know existed. Days when my daughter drives me crazy with constant clinginess or tantrums, I remember no matter how spent I am, I would rather be frustrated by my now toddler rather than be frustrated by my overwhelming sadness and desire to have a child to frustrate me."

And a sweet IVF friend of mine shared this thought that she really connected with, shortly after the birth of her miracle son, and I decided it needed the meme treatment. ;-)  

With a couple of years of parenting under my belt, I still feel like an infertile girl. I'm still committed to encouraging my infertile sisters and raising awareness for the medical and emotional issues that come along with an infertility diagnosis.  I haven't forgotten you, my sweet friends in the waiting. I pray for you constantly <3

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