Saturday, May 1, 2010

The "What IFs"

All the what if questions I have ever asked is a variation of the scariest "What IF" ever. What IF becoming a mother turns out to be the worst decision I have ever made? Over the years I have tried so hard to avoid all of the “What If…” questions that seemed to permeate every part of my reproductive life. At some point I had to put these questions aside, I had to accept that parenthood may never come for us. Infertility is often accurately described as being on a roller coaster, for me accepting living child-free felt something like finally breathing in from an oxygen tank and sitting quietly on the sea floor. In that moment, just as on the sea floor, all I could hear was my own breath.
In that single moment I gave up on a lifetime of dreams because that dream was threatening to drown me. My body had failed me but somehow I needed to find a way to move on with my life and focus on the wonderful things that were attainable. Without accepting that I would never be a mother was something that I had to do for my own survival. Thankfully, my wonderful husband made this very easy for me, after we got married he made a rule that we would not talk about kids for three years. Not that I was always able to do this, but having him fully take the pressure off of me was exactly what I needed at the time. For those years I concentrated on those things that would fulfill me because I was going to have a lot of time on my hands. There were times when months would pass without me thinking of adding a child to our family. I was really getting to the point of total acceptance when our fourth anniversary rolled around.
We agreed that we would give it a little more time because we were just not in a place in our lives where children would have made sense. More and more our conversations turned to children, until we knew that we were really ready to take on the challenge of becoming parents. My infertility was no surprise, we knew years before we got married that reproduction was not going to be our strong point. I cannot properly express the level of happiness I felt knowing that some way we were going to have a child.
So here are the big huge questions that haunt my thoughts.
What IF becoming a mother turns out to be the worst decision I have ever made?
Somewhere deep inside I must really not want to be a mother if I could really imagine my life without every hearing, “Mommy!” On that day that I let go of this dream there was so much relief. Our life as just a couple has been wonderful. We really are those people who fly off to see concerts and once we took off to Europe on the spur of the moment. A child will make these things impossible, but then again we do these things much less these days.
What IF this dream turns into a nightmare?
There has never been a time that I have dreamed of sitting up all night with a sick child, or fondly imagined walking the halls with a child that will not sleep unless I keep moving. In my head there are always those wonderful moments of watching our child discover something for the first time or giggling uncontrollably at a magnificent laugh. The reality is that, for a while at least, my whole world is going to be turned upside down. That imaginary piece of baby perfection is going to become a real child with real demands. I worry that I will just be overwhelmed, that what my heart tells me is what I was born to do become something that I am unable to handle. There will always be the part of me that feels like being just a good mother will never be enough.
I am being given this child. Two women have given up parts of their lives to give me this child. We have spent years fighting to have this child. Our ability to have this child is a privilege that I can never take lightly. A culmination of living in a country that allows surrogacy and egg donation, access to finances, and a wonderful support system of friends and family have all made this child possible. For all these reasons I know that I am so fortunate to even have this chance at motherhood. Someone so fortunate should never complain. Long sleepless nights, days without a shower, and all the other joys of parenthood are not something that I can ever possibly complain about. All these things are what I signed up for, not only that but these are all the things that I have fought so hard to finally have.
What IF all this junk in my head is really just junk, and what I know in my heart is exactly right?
I worry about everything; it is just part of who I am. The worries about becoming a mother are just my way of preparing for the worst, so that the best is that much better. All it takes is a simple glance at the embryo or later ultra sound picture for me to know that this was what I was meant to do with my life. When I look at those pictures the amazing amount of love I feel for this child, grown in another woman’s womb and from another woman’s egg, makes me know that I was put on this earth to be that child’s mother. Yes, infertility has robbed me of my compassion, self-esteem, sense of purpose, and years of my life, but the sight of my baby makes me know that these things are not lost forever. Wounds heal, not through our children, but by a shift in our focus. I will always feel the loss of not being a physical part of making my child, but it will not always be the center of my universe. Love is too small a word for what I feel for this child.

This post is part of Project IF. For a better basic understanding of infertility: click here and for the background of National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW): click here. To read other posts in this project, please visit Mel's list.


Cyn said...

The biggest mistake you could make is beating yourself up for NORMAL FEELINGS. It doesn't matter how hard it was or what hoops had to be leapt through to put your babe in your arms. There WILL be days when you NEED a break-that is normal, human nature! There WILL be days when you NEED to complain and vent about your child-even though he is the LIGHT of your life! Parenting is HARD and in order to step back in the ring after a particularly rough round, you MUST vent, complain, take a breather, so that you can get back in there and work your butt off being the absolute best parent you can be!
It doesn't matter HOW you became a mother. You are a mother and mother's need a break every now and then!
You will continue to be amazed at how much you love that little child!

Yolanda said...

Every woman on the cusp of motherhood has these thoughts. Some may never admit it, but it’s true. And some have the thoughts no only with their first, but with the subsequent children as well. It’s part of the process. Part of the brain sorting out priorities. No, you will not enjoy every moment of motherhood. I *still* cannot stand being awakened at night. I despise it. But I am accustomed to it and I deal with it when it comes. And you will, too. because no mother is abad mother, who spends this much time being aware and conscious of her own thoughts about motherhood.

Mama-Beans said...

Mama. You will be fine. I promise.


Anna C said...

This statement: "I worry that I will just be overwhelmed, that what my heart tells me is what I was born to do become something that I am unable to handle." could've been ripped from my journal this week. We are fostering another newborn and he is high-maintenance, and I am very tired. I wonder if I would feel this way if he were my own child. If maybe God hasn't given us a child because He knows we couldn't do it. I also really enjoy the impromptu dates and trips with my husband and friends, and will miss those! I also secretly wonder if all those Kodak moments that make you go aww are worth all the exhaustion, laundry and hard work! I think it is. I quiet my thoughts, focus on the immediate now and push the questions back into their file.
I look forward to reading about your baby coming home and how your questions get answered or erased!

Kristin said...

Oh sweetie, no one and I do mean no one dreams of the sick or inconsolable child. Those moments are hell. The questions you are asking yourself are completely normal. {{{Hugs}}}

FET Accompli said...

You are not alone - I do think that many mothers-to-be ask these questions. All I can say is that I have read your posts for a while now, and I know that you will do more than fine. You will do great. You will be a wonderful, loving, caring mom. Yes, sometimes you'll need some time to yourself. Who doesn't? That's what sitters are for :-) I just know that you will be an amazing mom.

rarejule said...

I'm not sure there's ever a day you will NOT second-guess motherhood. I know I don't. ;)

But this I know... you will be a good Mama!!

Saige said...

I can promise you once that child gets here, you will wonder how you ever had those thoughts. You won't mind getting up in the middle of the night for a sick child because your motherly intincts will kick in. You will look at your child's sweet little face and think, "You were worth it all."

You are going to make a GREAT mother Jaymee. The fact that you went through so much to bring this child into the world is a testiment to that.

m said...

This post speaks to me. So profoundly. We are in the same boat - trying with another woman's eggs and hopefully another woman's womb. I am so forever grateful to the people that have continued to come together to help us create a family but there IS that nagging feeling of, WHY are we pushing so many envelopes? Why are we trying so hard? Is nature trying to tell me something I don't want to hear? Maybe I'm not *meant* to be a mother? But dammit, I can't stop trying. Because there ARE choices and there are opportunities left. And I just can't bear the what ifs if we don't try. They are harder than the ones I ask myself now.

Gemma said...

Hi, I wouldnt worry about these thoughts. Just because you have had to become a mum in a more difficult way, it doesnt mean you are not entitled to have the same thoughts and worries as any other mother. If anything they may be stronger as you are not having your baby naturally, so you may worry it was not meant to be.
However it wouldn't have worked if it wasn't meant to be! So know you deserve this and are entitled to feel like any mother does!
I am right at the start of the surrogacy journey, your blog gives me hope and I love your honesty xx

mckala7 said...

I don't think when we dream of motherhood do we ever pause to think about the difficult times... we picture our children being perfect and wonderful. The beauty is... they are more perfect and wonderful than they are the opposite. I can speak from a lot of experience when I say that the good times you will cherish and the bad times you will learn to take with humor. Perhaps taking spur of the moment trips is fun... but then you realize you really can do those things with your children... especially before they begin school and you won't be able to imagine your life the way it was before you had them. I remember sleeping more... but I've found a balance between my husband and I that works for us. That way we both get sleep. Try taking shifts. One day you take the baby, the next day he does... that way you are both getting an entire night sleep at first. It does wonders for sanity knowing that you will be able to have that break. And you will need breaks. Regardless of how much you love them... you will need time apart. It's healthy that way. Good luck!