I was inspired by the courage of MissConception and Jen, as well as the encouragement of Cristy to write this post. If you are in a bad place with TTC right now, please skip this entry. I wrote it at a low point and although I have made some breakthroughs since writing it, I feel like I still want to post it. I will follow up with a post about my recent improvement.
I have been living with the words "supposed to" a lot since Little Fab came home. It seems that when you are a new mother, and especially an infertile new mother, there are a lot of "supposed tos." I am supposed to be working towards getting my newborn on a schedule. I'm supposed to have enough breastmilk to feed him. I am supposed to be able to gently rock him to sleep at the first yawn. I have not been able to consistently accomplish any of those things and therefore I'm generally feeling like a failure at all of this. I have this beautiful, happy, healthy baby and I feel like I'm coming apart some days. Not all days, but too many.
I am also supposed to be flooded with joy. I am supposed to have natural instincts about all things newborn. I am supposed to be loving every minute. But I'm not. I'm trying really hard to do all of those things, but I am struggling. I can't seem to let go of what I thought this would all be like, and the reality of how difficult being a new mother is. After all, I tried for over two years to have LF. I should have known what I was getting into right? I should be grateful for every sleepless night and every cry from the crib. So what the hell is wrong with me? Why am I dissolving into tears several times a week?
Mainly I think it comes from being overwhelmed by nearly everything right now. The difficulty I had with breastfeeding (still hanging in there with nursing before every bottle of formula), the lack of any rhyme or reason to LF's voracious appetite (all those rumors about formula babies sleeping more is bullshit in this house), the lack of sleep (this cannot be understated), the lack of quality time with KG or with myself for that matter, and decisions about EVERYTHING (from bottles to parenting philosphies). Did I also mention that I've not yet spent a day completely alone with LF?* The day KG went back to work my parents arrived. How the hell am I going to do everything alone? Why can't I manage to return phone calls and emails? Why can't I figure out how to take a shower every day? But when I really think about it, the feeling that bothers me most is the immense guilt I have about how much I miss being pregnant. It was a perfect, happy time for me, and now it feels a lifetime away.
I've been leaning on my friends (with and without children) a lot lately. Sometimes for advice, sometimes for the feeling of normalcy I get when I am around them. They have been my lifeline and I'm so grateful to all of them for the meals, hugs, and visits. But, as we head into month 2, the visits and calls have slowed, as one would expect. However, my desperation for the connection grows each day.
Before delivery, I had no idea that I would feel like such a failure. Because I can't figure out his eating patterns. Because I can't tell one cry from another very well. Because I can't seem to help him sleep more than a 2 hour stretch at a time. Because I can't decide whether we should be pushing him towards a schedule or just following his lead. Aren't I supposed to know all of these things as his mother?
That isn't to say there aren't moments when I look at LF and am in awe: of how gorgeous he is, how much of a person he looks like already, even at 4 weeks, how fascinated he is with light and patterns. Moments when he sleeps on my chest or stares at my face make me melt. I love this child. I also watch KG with him and am consumed with warmth - KG is madly in love with his son, which makes me fall more madly in love with him. But then I feel even worse, like I'm not authentically feeling what I should for my baby. I worry that I'm letting KG down because I am so needy and emotional these days. I want to be as happy as he is, and I'm just not there yet.
So, it seems like my history of depression and anxiety has reared its ugly head. I knew I was at high risk for PPD but man, I was hoping to dodge the bullet. Therefore, I'm seeking help. I made an appointment with my therapist. I'm reminded by people close to me that I can't be a good mom if I don't take care of myself, mentally and physically. I want to be the mother LF deserves. I want to be the wife KG deserves. I want to feel like myself and enjoy this time, instead of feeling like I need to survive it.
So, right or wrong, that's where I'm at. I'm sure some people reading this will want to flame me for feeling this way when so many are still struggling to have their first baby. Of course, as an infertile, I might have felt the same way before I was actually living this. But, this space is my own to get and give support and it will remain so, even post baby.
*I have since been spending lots of alone time with LF.