The Problem With Motherhood After Infertility…

I’m sure I speak for the bulk of infertiles when I say this….

Somewhere between coming off birth control in preparation for starting a family and your third/fourth/fifth IVF, something happens, you loose sight of something really really important. Think about this, and answer this question honestly to yourself (and I’m speaking to the harden IVF Vets here).

Now, years down the drag, a thousand disappointments tucked in your belt, what are you most focused on when thinking about starting a family??? I’ve spoken with a couple of my IF Vet Sista’s and I know there is a consensus. Somewhere during the injections and the heartache and the disappointment and the procedures, we stop thinking about having a baby as having a baby that will grown up to be a moody teenager, experiment with drugs or alcohol, loose their virginity and generally drive us nuts at times. In fact, I’d go so far as to say for me, and I’m sure I’m not alone, I pretty much even stopped thinking about the actual baby. All I thought about was putting one foot in front of the other. Having a treatment, getting a positive result, getting to the 7 week scan, seeing a heartbeat and so on and so on. See where I’m going? Somewhere in the midst that is infertility, we get so bogged down in the shit of an IVF that we forget about the end result. We think we know what the end result is – a baby, but we don’t really think much further than that.

I know I never thought about sleepless nights, pooey nappies, teething, bum cream or any of those things, I simply thought about the baby my heart longed for. And then, suddenly, I was thrust into motherhood and everything that it entails after more than 7 years of idealizing what it was going to be like. I was shocked to discover a number of things. Firstly that once you got the baby, you actually had to raise it, so you better get educated in what that entails and secondly that I’d spent so many years idealizing this time in my life and I was shocked and completely unprepared for how far from the ideal it actually is. Its hard, its the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Its overwhelming, its a huge responsibility, I look at this little person and each day it dawns on me more and more how huge the responsibility is, how important making the right decisions for her are. In an instant, life as we know it changes for ever.

Nobody can ever prepare you for motherhood! I know I’ve heard a thousand times how hard it is, how all consuming it is, so I’m surprised to discover that I never took that to heart, I never really understood just how hard, just how all consuming. And I’m certainly not complaining, just this evening, W and I stood over Ava’s cot while she slept and both had a little cry at our good fortune, at the beautiful miracle that has been brough into our lives, at the overwhelming love we feel for her.

And I know I’m not the only one that never fully grasped how hard it all was, thousands and thousands of women before me went into this ill prepared for what was coming there way and thousands after me will do the same. So, if there is one piece of assvice I wish I could pass on to my IF sisters who are to follow me into motherhood its this…….you’ll never be fully prepared for what you’re getting yourself into and that’s ok, you’ll also never be fully prepared for the immense love that grows everyday inside you when you look at your miracle child!

In closing, I’d just like to say that this: one of the words that has always been used to describe my blog is honest and I intend to keep it that way. I’m all about letting it all hang out and about telling the truth, no matter how ugly, shocking or surprising that may be. I think its a shame there aren’t more new mom’s out there who are willing to say that having a new baby isn’t always coming up roses, that sometimes its damn difficult. Instead when people ask what its like to be a mommy we tell them what they want to hear. I was asked the other day how I was finding motherhood, the person asking had this look of expectation on their face. Everyone seems to think that because I waited more than 7 years for Ava that its all moonlight and roses. They were pretty shocked when I told them at times I found it damn difficult! But that’s the truth isn’t it?

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  • Reply Denise

    I couldn’t agree more, it really is the hardest thing in the world. Sometimes I feel so completely overwhelmed and inadequate, always though I love J with all my heart. Its a funny place to be…

    February 3, 2010 at 6:44 am
  • Reply Chopper1

    I love reading your story. It’s so real.
    I’ve always thought of the poo nappies, sleepless nights and so on – because that is all I’ve heard my friends talk (and complain bitterly) about – saying “You have no idea what it’s like”, Ah, but I WANT to have an idea of what it’s like. I WANT to have sleepless nights and wipe a poo bum and clean up vomit.. I don’t care what it entails – I just know that I want it. Granted, I also realise that it’s no picnic, and what I THINK is to come is not at all what is GOING to come. All I know is that it’s something that I want so badly, I can quite literally taste it.
    Not that I speak from experience or anything – but I think you’re doing a damn fine job and you’re perfect, perfect parents!

    February 3, 2010 at 7:22 am
  • Reply Yvonne

    You’re so right Shaz – it is such a complex thing, constantly feeling all this love, awe, exhaustion, irritation etc etc. It is hard work – but also wonderful and incredibly rewarding work πŸ™‚

    Personally I think that the reason many mothers don’t talk about it is because they’ve realised that it’s not what other people want to hear. When you try to tell people without children what it’s like they simply can’t understand it until they get there – it’s like trying to tell a man how tough it is to be a woman, or a fertile how tough it is to be infertile. Until you’ve been there it’s just really hard to fully get.

    Yet I’m happy that you’re dealing with sleepless nights etc etc πŸ™‚ Just imagine where you would be if you hadn’t gotten that call in December, the alternative just doesn’t bear thinking about…!

    February 3, 2010 at 8:32 am
  • Reply Paula

    I have often thought the same thing Sharon. Even though I had one before the twins (some IF but nowhere near what came after) I got to that place where all I wanted was the 2 lines on the HPT and then I got handed prem twins and things went pear-shaped from there on. One thing I have learnt is this, you cannot have one single plan with a baby and think that is the ultimate. You have to adapt, because the thing a baby is best at is throwing curve balls. The second you think you have it figured out they come up with something new to puzzle/frustrate/worry/amaze you!

    February 3, 2010 at 8:38 am
  • Reply Abs

    So honest Shaz! I guess I’ll have to get there first before I can fully nderstand what you mean. Like so much in life one does not really know what soemthing is like until they have experienced it for themselves. xxx

    February 3, 2010 at 8:53 am
  • Reply Mariette

    Hi Sharon! This is just so amazing to read. I read your blog everyday, but this is the first time I comment. I learn so much from reading about your struggles and victories. This is so true. I knew everything about IVF, ICSI, etc etc. BUT now that I am moving closer to my due date, I realise how little I know about a baby! I am reading, reading, reading, but in my heart I know nothing can prepare me for what is in store. I am excited, yet damn scared. Thank you so much for sharing your experience! You mean a lot to all of us. And you are a fantastic mommmy.

    February 3, 2010 at 9:36 am
  • Reply Jahni

    Rather honest than pretty (and fake). I’m forever amazed that such a small person can control me so completely! πŸ˜‰

    February 3, 2010 at 9:41 am
  • Reply Mrs See

    You are absolutely right that I never think about actualy having a baby, sleepless nights etc. I have kind of blocked that out, kind of like a “don’t jinx” getting pregnant by thinking too far ahead. Odd but true.

    February 3, 2010 at 9:59 am
  • Reply Adi

    One of the first books I got when I got the good news was “Mother Shock – Loving every (other) minute of it”. Tertia mentioned it on her blog at some point. It is precisely about the stuff you are talking about. Someone has to say it. It is truth. Let it be spoken! Damnit… πŸ˜‰ I think the one enormous thing adoption brings is the suddenness: you can’t hope for anything before to brace yourself for disappointment, so you can’t really prepare as that just translates into hope. With pregnancy, you have nine long months to plan and just get used to the idea. And it is still not enough. I really think you are an amazing mom – really and truly, it is not a statement to sugar coat anything: you are doing fantastic. Ava is going to be one awesome little girl because of all this care you are pouring into her.

    February 3, 2010 at 10:04 am
  • Reply Lea White

    Firstly about the putting one foot in front of another comment you made – I think that’s a survival technique in a way. Certainly that’s what we had to do when Bianca was diagnosed. For us 2 years away just felt so far away and it was easy to get all down in the dumps realising how far away from our goal we were at that point. So maybe perhaps that’s a bit the same? Not knowing when so thinking too far ahead would be too painful.

    Secondly I love how very honest you are!

    February 3, 2010 at 10:07 am
  • Reply Katherine

    So true and that’s probably why the incidence of PND after IVF(and I suppose infertility in general) is actually quite high. We all think that a baby is the answer to our problems and if we could just have a baby our lives would be perfect/complete and then the 3kg little bundle of joy arrives and one is completely unprepared for the havoc it inflicts on our nicely ordered, previously infertile lives.

    February 3, 2010 at 11:05 am
  • Reply Sian

    Isn’t it funny! No funny haha, funny peculiar. I could not agree more. In fact sometimes I think that we even forget that we are striving for a BFP when doing treatment. Mostly because it hurts so much to be hopeful when you are aware of the realities.

    February 3, 2010 at 11:17 am
  • Reply Daryl

    So true Sharon! But then again I think nothing can actually ever prepare you for motherhood. Women would probably not have babies if they realised what hard wrok it actually is. I am finding being a stay at home mom to be very challenging. My boy is very “ma vas” at the moment, and to be honest, the thought of going to work is quite tempting right now. I long for 5 minutes of me time and to not have this little barnacle constantly stuck to me, but I realise this too shall pass. I love the fact that I am there for his milestones and daily little discoveries.

    February 3, 2010 at 11:42 am
  • Reply Dee

    So true. Ive also thought about the fact that after all is said and done, there will be a live BABY looking to me for everything. Its overwhelming at times and scares me but Im still willing to take the plunge.

    February 3, 2010 at 12:34 pm
  • Reply charne

    I agree Mommys should always be honest about the good and bad parts of motherhood… and yes i undestand 100% that some mommys after been on this journey hide the bad parts of motherhood and only reveal the good…(i guess maybe after wanting something for so long they to scared to admit there is bad times?)

    motherhood is the most challenging and most rewarding job.

    Sharon, i think you are an awesome mommy.. we may never have met… but reading your blog i know you only want what is best for little Ava and that in itself makes for an awesome mommy.

    It is also wonderful to read a blog of someone that adopted a baby and can be open and honest and not just saying all the things they think people want to read.

    hugs to you and little Ava Grace


    February 3, 2010 at 2:36 pm
  • Reply Angela

    Hi Sharon,
    Well done for keeping it real girl. I have no qualms at all about telling it like it is, I battled for 9 years to have Thomas and I found the first 6 weeks especially, the hardest of my life – even with such a wanted baby, you really do feel out of your depth. Someone once told me that people don’t tell you the ‘truth’ about having a baby because they don’t want to put you off – perhaps thats true. Keep your chin up though, for some reason (and I’ll never be sure exactly what it is) things do get easier after 6 weeks.
    Love Ang.

    February 3, 2010 at 2:44 pm
  • Reply WiseGuy

    You are so correct when you say that people lose sight of the ‘after’ when they are shutzzing for a baby..and I wonder that there are people who actually don’t have to go that far into think and yet they have babies and raise them without a prior thought or conception or uber-desire to do so.

    I know that having a baby that is completely helpless and constantly needing love and care is tough…and I hope that I will be able to realistically look at the prospect myself.

    February 3, 2010 at 2:55 pm
  • Reply Mash

    I went through a stage of asking people who had babies whether they would do it again, and you would be amazed how many women said no. I’m talking about even some women in my mom’s generation who all have lovely children, grown up etc. In those days you didn’t question it, you got married and started breeding. But these are women who, had they been in our generation, and knew what they know now, they wouldn’t do it again… how honest is that!

    February 3, 2010 at 6:54 pm
  • Reply Mash

    PS Do you think in a way infertility makes motherhood harder? Like somewhere inside we might feel that since the first step (falling pregnant) didn’t happen naturally, we might feel somehow more inadequate at the mothering thing than the fertile myrtles?

    February 3, 2010 at 7:02 pm
  • Reply Hollie

    All I can truly say is GREAT POST SHARON! Really great post!!

    February 3, 2010 at 9:30 pm
  • Reply Quiet Dreams

    I’m not a mother, I may never be, but I am grateful to you and the other “honest moms” I’ve known for your truth-telling. I’d love to be a mother someday, but I’ll go in with my eyes, if not wide open, then at least not squeezed shut.

    February 4, 2010 at 2:56 am
  • Reply SCY

    Thought provoking post, one I’ll have to refer back to if I get to the other side one day.

    I do think though that this is not just true for infertiles, I know that many of my fertile mertyle friends have expressed this feeling as well – the feeling that they never really considered what would happen once baby came, and never really thought of the future once that happened. That they were doing it wrong and had to show to everyone only the good side…

    Thanks for the thought provocation…


    PS -> You are an excellent Mommy!

    February 4, 2010 at 1:45 pm
  • Reply Kristin

    This is so very true! It is the hardest, most impossible job I will ever LOVE.

    February 4, 2010 at 5:16 pm
  • Reply Leigh from 123 blog

    I am honest, brutally honest like you, and have also received “the looks”. I do try and preface it all by “I don’t want to scare you but…” because seriously, NO ONE talks about how hard it is and that it being difficult is NORMAL!

    Yes, I have twins but it’s also hard with one baby because we harboured romantic views of the baby in the cot, sweetly sleeping and not SCREAMING! LOL

    Just yesterday I spoke to a fellow mum and she said her friends say she’s scaring them but she said “rather that than be lied to like others have done to me” LOL

    February 5, 2010 at 2:54 pm
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