I know infertility. I know IVF, and all the medications and all the terms used throughout the entire process. I can pretty much say, I have this whole trying to conceive thing down. What I haven't a clue about is motherhood. How am I going to possibly take care of a baby? How will I know what they want when they cry? What is the best way to sleep train? I know infertility and the struggle to have a baby. What I don't know is what to do with one when one actually comes.
I'm realizing more and more that there is no way to truly prepare for a baby. I can read all the books and articles I want, but when that baby comes home from the hospital and suddenly it's just my husband and I, will we feel ready for what we are up against? Infertility was and is the worst thing I've ever gone through, but it has also prepared me to raise a baby in four ways that a book or article never could have:
1) Learning to not stress the little things. In preparation for every transfer in the early years, or during that two week wait until I could take a pregnancy test, I gave up caffeine and alcohol. I took the term "bed rest" literally and rarely left the bed or couch, always lying flat (which caused some wicked heartburn.) For the last transfer, I had the mindset that if it was going to work, it would and everything I did was out of my control. I drank coffee. I had a glass of wine on bed rest and (gasp!) I sat in a reclining position unless I was getting up to grab things.
Everyone seems to have an opinion on how to care for your baby. Some new mom's get so caught up in trying to make sure they have the right combination of stimulation and that ideal sleep schedule for their baby that they start feeling uptight. Remembering to chill out a bit and be ok with the mistakes will help you enjoy that baby so much more.
But I know I wouldn't have the same appreciation back then if I had not struggled and faced the fear of this never happening.
2) Connecting with others. I wouldn't have survived infertility if it weren't for the friendships and connections I've made through the years from women who have gone through the same thing. They were a safe place to ask questions, to get advice and support and to not feel so alone.
When I finally got pregnant and stayed pregnant, I sought out other's who were pregnant after infertility, and leaned on them heavily for pregnancy support. Having a newborn can feel so isolating if it's allowed and seeking out those other mom's to lean on for support can make all the difference.
3) Sometimes plans change. My husband and I bought a five-bedroom house, just knowing in a few years those rooms would be filled with children, maybe three or four. We looked into the possibility of buying a bigger car, because when we have kids, we'll need more space to travel. We never could have predicted that five years later, we would be anticipating our first child. Apparently, it was going to happen when it would happen.
I can't tell you how many times I have heard of a baby getting sick right before a big vacation, or a birthday party. Sometimes, things come up and you'll have to be willing to be flexible and reschedule.
4) Indescribable appreciation. Love cannot be measured in degrees. Some women quickly become pregnant after entering a relationship. Some struggle for ten years to have a baby. There is no difference in the amount of love these women have for their baby. I know, that had I gotten pregnant on my timeline, six years ago, I would love my baby just as much as I do now after five embryo transfers. But I know I wouldn't have the same appreciation back then if I had not struggled and faced the fear of this never happening.
There are hard days parenting a baby. I know I'll feel frustration and exhaustion. But the struggle to have this baby will forever be a reminder of that sacrifice for sleep. I will always remember what it took to bring my baby into the world.