Saturday, January 26, 2013

Supposed to...

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.


  1. Even though you're in another space now, I'm glad you posted this. I think reality is so important to read, to know. To understand that the first few months (or years or decades) may not contain bluebirds flying around your head while your baby coos at you. That it's hard work being done on very little sleep. And sometimes it's just about hanging in there until you find your groove.

  2. Honestly, I get a little fed up with those who project only sunshine & roses and gratitude for every crappy moment because of what they went through to have that moment. Some moments with an infant are crappy (literally!) and you shouldn't have to feel like a bad person for not putting appreciation for having that situation to deal with on top of trying to dig yourself out of the current mess.

    So glad things have improved for you!

  3. No one could slightly blame you for this post! PPD, like infertility, is rarely talked about but it is really real and needs to be. Infertility does not mean you have to have this magical life afterwards. That's not reality. Yes, you would completely prefer this to that, but it doesn't mean this having your baby is not hard. I hope it keeps getting better as I'm sure it will!

  4. You are an amazing person, partner, and mom. The love pours out of you every time you touch our lil' boy. I am in constant awe of your preparedness, tenderness, and strength.


  5. You know I understand how you feel right now. We have good days and bad and sometimes the bad come on top of each other. I still struggle with the idea that I may have PPD and I hate it. Why can't I just finally be happy?

    Know that I am here dealing with it all right now too and it's supposedly normal. I hope we push through this phase quickly and find our stride.

  6. I too had a rough time with the not so happy moments. I think part of it had to do with the fact that it did take us so long to get pregnant and have our little guy, that once he came, I felt like I had to keep an upbeat and wonderful front to everyone. How could I not be always grateful for what I have when I knew and know that others are still struggling. But that isn't fair! No matter how easy or difficult it is to get our little ones, we are just as much in the right to have our good and bad days. I try not to feel so guilty over the bad days anymore, but sometimes I just need to have a good cry and get it over with.
    I am glad to hear things are improving, I hope they continue to do so.

  7. The comment from KG is the sweetest thing. I'm glad you have a great partner. I'm glad to hear things are better too. I'm proud of you for asking for help. Things will continue to improve.

  8. Thank you for posting this. Seriously, thank you. Thank you for saying the difficult things, the things no one talks about. I fear that I will be in a similar place to you in a few short weeks when our little one arrives. There's so much pressure from the outside world to just "know" that people forget that life isn't like that. I think it's amazing that you recognized all this in yourself and asked for help rather than trying to be "strong enough" to muddle through it. Being "strong enough" should mean knowing when you need help, not depending on yourself. I am so glad that things are improving and I hope they continue to. Again, you're so brave for posting this and I respect you immensely!

  9. I think it's important to be honest with yourself about what you are feeling. A feeling cannot be wrong or right, it just is. This is the second post I've read recently where the difficulty of being a new mom has been discussed. I truly appreciate these posts! I am only 12 weeks pregnant, but knowing what lies ahead in the future helps me to prepare mentally. Good for you for identifying where you are and not being afraid to reach out for help (I see you doing this by relying on blog friends, real-life friends, and seeking a mental health professional). You can never be wrong in taking care of yourself so that you can be the best person, wife, mother, and friend.

  10. This is so understandable and it is my big fear. I've been so overwhelmed by infertility and loss and adoption that I haven't prepared my brain in any way for having a baby and I know it is going to be hard and it scares me. You are doing great. And every day will get easier and you'll figure more out.

  11. Thank you for this post. I felt very similar. I waited so long to be a mom, but it certainly has come with its own challenges. I felt guilty for not being overjoyed that I finally got this experience. There are more good days then bad, but it has been extremely difficult and I've doubted myself a lot. I ave no doubt you love LF and we doing your best by him. This makes you a wonderful mom.

  12. I am so glad you posted this. Not because I'm happy that you are feeling so defeated (far from it . . . I wish I was closer to help you out!), but because I think it's so important for people to hear this. Too often, we assume that everything will magically fall into place once the baby arrives. What I major myth. Newborns are fussy, hungry and completely overwhelmed with the new world they have entered. Hence it takes a lot of work and many hours of lost sleep to get into a rhythm.

    I firmly believe you are doing an awesome job. Especially during the moments where it feels like you're completely failing. So, deep breath and remember that what you're experiencing is completely normal. That you're not failing in any way. And that by talking about this so openly, you're actually helping so many others who feel similarly or are clueless about what the future holds.

    Hang in there, my friend. And remember: motherhood is not defined based on one's ability to conceive and birth children. It's based on the ability to raise our children, especially in the moments that seem so impossible. Hence you are truly a mother, and an amazing one to boot.

  13. Thank you for posting this. It helps me so much to read these accounts and prepare myself for the infant months - what they will truly be like. The truth is we spend so much of our lives envisioning certain things - the proposal, the wedding planning, the wedding day, trying for a baby, getting a BFP, being pregnant, being a new mom, etc. - without really knowing what they will truly be like. I think a lot of the sadness stems from disappointment, at least for me it has. But thanks to my fellow honest IF bloggers, I will go into this time knowing that hey, it's going to be tough. There will be magical moments but just like life, they will be interspersed between lots of frustration, confusion, worrying, etc. But I do believe it will get easier.

    I'm so glad to have you back writing again and to hear you're seeking help. I know this time will pass for you and things will start getting easier, day by day. It takes time to adjust to this huge and amazing new role. You're already doing great.

  14. I don't think "knowing" would make you feel better, necessarily. I feel like I "know" the babies - I can tell apart their cries, I generally know what they need, and can often give it to them. I still feel like a failure constantly. I still feel like aren't I supposed to be better at this, isn't this supposed to be bliss? You probably know more than you think you know, but this cloud is covering your eyes like it is mine. It sucks to feel like we've made it and then to not feel like we are living in it the way we are "supposed" to.

    If there is a mommy group in your area I highly recommend it. I don't know where I would be without my mommy group.

  15. I've seen so many friends in your exact same situation. You are not alone and you are doing the right things by reaching out to the internet for help and seeing a therapist. Plus, it is good that you have friends and family close. Let them know you need support.

    On the flip side, this just completely freaks me out. After seeing my friends deal with your exact same issues (and in some cases, more) I am not convinced that I can be a good mother. All I ever wanted was to be a mother, yet infertility took that away from me and now the only way is to adopt. Yet, knowing what I have seen and read about, I am scared to death that I'll hate it and regret it. I know motherhood isn't all rainbows and unicorns, but I just need to know that it is all worth it at the end of the day, week, month, year, life.

  16. Thank you SO VERY MUCH for writing this post! I have 3 1/2 month old twin boys and while things have gotten much better recently, the first weeks & months sometimes felt like self-induced torture. The guilt I felt about not having enough breastmilk for them & not loving every moment with them after having gone through so much to get them here (infertility - then donor egg IVF). The frustration with trying to figure out how to get them on a schedule, much less the same schedule, especially with a huge weight discordance. The anxiety I felt about not giving them each enough attention and worrying that they would suffer attachment problems if their cries weren't responded to immediately every time. At several points during the first 6 weeks I found myself wondering whether we possibly made a terrible mistake. Thankfully things are so much better now - and a post like yours encourages me that I'm not the only one who felt like new motherhood was a trial by fire.

  17. Thank you, so so much for posting this. We are less than 60 days away from finally bringing home a baby. And I have been desperate for real words from moms who have traveled a bit to get here, like we have. I am stunned to see how few moms who lived/are living through IF will allow themselves the "this sucks and this hurts and I'm tired and I cry" feelings that other new moms may take for granted. Thank you for your honesty and for sharing. I am sorry that this is a rough patch for you. And yep, the post from KG got me pretty teary. You got this. Together, you'll figure it out.

  18. Oh, gosh, yes, I've been there. I breastfed the Boy and I remember feeling at the end of my tether when he fed constantly for three hours. It gets much easier after the first 4-6 weeks, although every so often he'd have a growth spurt and feed constantly for 12-24 hours.

    The best advice I can give is that the more he feeds, the more your supply will grow. Be confident that your baby will get enough from you and persevere through the long feeds at the start. The more bottle feeding you do the less your supply will be able to catch up - although some people mix feed perfectly happily.

    And don't worry about e-mails, or anything else. Forget schedules (don't even think about those stupid books that tell you how your baby should operate!), and just go with the flow. The early days go in very quick so although it's a battle right now, it won't be like this forever - or even in a couple of months.

    Try and enjoy it, roll with it, and don't feel guilty.

  19. It took me 6 years to take home my twins, and about 6 months to fully enjoy them. No lie. I felt totally robbed of their baby hood in some ways. It was one of the reasons I was determined to have another baby, because I wanted that time back.

    Having a new baby, or babies, is so difficult. There are many infertile people who seem to think that just because they tried so hard to get pregnant that they should want it more, be more patient, be more prepared some how...and it just isn't so! For a lot of moms it will be sunshine and roses from the start, but for most of us it is a really, really, hard job that we have no training or experience in. Just because you land your dream job, it doesn't mean it will be easy or enjoyable in the beginning.

    If anyone dares to flame you, send them my way, I'll fill them in on all the dirt about PPD that they'll ever care to hear about. Hang in gets better, and Zoloft helps a LOT.

  20. Here from Mel's Roundup.
    Hugs, big hugs for you. I've bookmarked your post so I can come back to it in a few weeks time, and read anew that the first days/weeks are hard...
    Can't we blame hormones for the guilt and depression?

  21. Hugs to you, the first few weeks are supposed to be pretty horrendous, I've heard, and also that you can't quite imagine just how hard it is till you're actually doing it. Some lady at the weekend just told me its REALLY hard for about the first 12 weeks but it does settle.

    Good on you for going to see your therapist - hang in there, hon, and thank you for being truthful about how it really is. Another sucky dimension of infertility - the 'should' guilts!

    Here from Roundup too

  22. I think every Mama suffers from a case of the 'shoulds' now and then. It is hard not to. I hope things begin to go more smoothly very soon.


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