i honestly don’t know where this post is going, all i know is that i need to write and i need to write it here. i don’t know if anyone else needs to read this, or if it’s just me needing to vent to the internet. idk. but honestly, i’ve had a really hard time figuring out where i stand in the worlds of motherhood and infertility.
they feel like two completely opposite worlds. and i feel like a stranger in one (motherhood) and an outcast in the other (infertility). when we were TTC, i figured out who i was and who i wanted to be. and then we got pregnant and i still felt the same way— i felt like i knew who i was and who i could be after my baby was born and that TTC sadie and mama sadie could coexist like best friends. i felt like all my problems would be solved because the thing that i wanted most was finally coming to fruition.
but then also, secretly in the background, i continuously felt like a fraud. like i couldn’t be both. because i wasn’t TTC anymore. and i felt like our infertility journey was a different lifetime ago. and like the trials and experiences that were coming as part of my journey through motherhood were unprecedented. but not only that— they felt harder than my infertility journey?
*switching tenses because i can*
and it’s been weird because throughout my whole infertility journey i just kept thinking, this is the hardest thing i’ll probably ever have to go through. the isolation. the misunderstanding. the sorrow. the despair. the feelings of inadequacy. the confusion of feeling happy and sad at the same time. the sleepless nights. the tear-filled discussions. the emotional exhaustion. the physical changes in my body. the hormonal changes to my body. trying to keep up with everything i “should” be doing. nothing could top this.
and then motherhood happened. and it’s been weird because literally every emotion is the same. but different. some experiences— like the emotional exhaustion— are magnified times a million for me. trying to keep up with everything i “should” be doing and having a checklist of skills, abilities and milestones my baby “should” be reaching feels very overwhelming a lot of the time.
and then there’s the survivor’s guilt. i watch as my TTC friends (whom i love and adore and want the world for) continue to struggle. they continue to live through the pain of being infertile. they keep trying and they keep going. and as they struggle through their journeys, i feel guilty for struggling through motherhood. the very thing they are praying for, paying for (literally), and waiting for. the very thing I prayed for, I waited for and I paid for. and yet, here i am. struggling through motherhood. trying to keep my head above water.
i tip toe around giving advice or words of encouragement because it feels so fake and inauthentic. but it’s not. i truly am praying for, grieving with and cheering on all of my TTC friends. they day their miracles come— in whatever way they come— i will be there. first comment. first like. jumping up and down. crying tears of joy with them because i know what it took to get there. i’ll feel the anxiety they feel as they go in to each appointment. the hold your breath and wait for the results. the “just let me hear the heartbeat” thought that races through your mind every time. the pleading for the pregnancy to last. taking all 40 weeks literally one day at a time because you know that at any minute, it could be over and you’ll be back at square one trying again.
and as i think of these friends, i just can’t help but feel every emotion on the spectrum. for them and for me. the bitterness. the anger. the stress. the sorrow. the happiness. the gratitude. the overwhelming love.
i never shared this during our infertility journey, but i always felt like infertility didn’t take anything from me— whatever it took, i gave it. the lack of happiness i felt— i gave infertility my happiness. the jealousy i felt— i gave infertility my understanding and admiration. the bitterness i felt— i gave infertility my contentment.
and yet, here i am feeling like infertility robbed me of the ability to feel frustrated, sad, negative, confused, mad or any other type of struggle during motherhood. because my infertility journey taught me to be grateful for this experience. these hard times are the times that i PRAYED for. so they shouldn’t be hard. it feels like i don’t get to have hard experiences. and even if it IS hard (because it is), i can’t talk about that. because i’m supposed to be an infertility advocate and here i am struggling with motherhood? wow. hypocritical much?
and then come the questions of “when do you think you’ll start trying again?” and “how many more kids do you want?” and honestly, these questions make me want to curl up in a ball in the corner and hide because it feels selfish to say: i’m not sure i can do this again. i’m not sure i want more kids at this point. i am trying to figure out ONE and i constantly feel like i’m failing her. so probably not any time soon.
i look at my perfect baby (not bias. just true. ;)) and think, “please God, don’t let me ruin her. help me be the mama she needs. help me have the mental capacity to do this.”
because you know what no one tells you: there will be days you want to quit. there will be days that you wish you could take the baby back and go back to your “normal” life— the one you were used to. there will be days where you feel like your eyelids weigh 23948723948723978 pounds but it’s only 9am and you’ve got at LEAST 12 hours before you can call it a day. there will be times where you’ll wish that your baby just needed someone else because you’re so dang tired; but she needs to eat… again.
here’s the reality of motherhood (and honestly pregnancy) that i didn’t think about during my TTC journey: it is 24/7. my brain romanticized pregnancy and motherhood into beautiful moments. which there are a lot of. but there are also a lot of just straight up real life moments that TBH, aren’t so beautiful. the negative body image as i watched my body physically change every single day for 8 months, to turn around and have it continue to change and feeling like a stranger to my own body. the sleepless nights + feedings every night. i was totally unprepared for that. my baby needs to eat at 2am and 4am. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. the last time i slept through the entire night? i honestly cannot remember. because i didn’t sleep through the night when i was pregnant either. the my baby needs ME moments that i thought would be so cute… are so cute until i want to just take a shower, just go to work, just eat a meal.
motherhood for me has been a power struggle of i want to keep my identity and i don’t even know who i am. i want to work, but i don’t want to leave my baby. i want to get fully ready for the day but i’m so tired that i’d rather just wear sweats. i want to be peppy and excited but i feel so out of control.
i’m not sharing this because i want your pity. your comments of “just keep going mama!” or “it’s totally normal to feel this way in motherhood.” i’m sharing these feelings because i need to get them out. i feel it in my bones that someone out there who struggled through infertility is struggling with motherhood too. i also don’t want you to feel like i don’t love my baby because nothing could be further from the truth. i love her with everything i have. i look at her perfect face and feel so much guilt for feeling any of these feelings.
it’s just weird to have your world flipped upside down, thrown around, spun in 7000 circles and then handed back to you without any instruction. not knowing which direction is the “right” way. trying to trust your instincts and gut— hoping you’re making the right choices but constantly questioning whether what you’re doing is helpful or selfish.
it’s hard to feel like you knew exactly what you were getting into and being so… off. i knew nothing. it’s humbling. it’s exhausting. it’s magical. it’s going so fast but so slow at the same time. it’s everything i hoped for and nothing i imagined. it’s confusing. in some ways it’s easy and natural. and in other ways it’s the hardest most unnatural thing i’ve ever done.
motherhood is weird. especially after infertility.
If you are struggling through motherhood after infertility, we recommend looking into the Motherhood Journey Journal.
Just came across this blog and it’s so spot on. I know you didn’t write this for this, but I’ll say it anyway; these feelings ARE so normal. I’ve yet to meet a mother out there who hasn’t felt them, infertility or not. No one knows what they are getting into before their first kid. We all think we do though. It’s very hard to conceptualize it before it’s your reality, so it’s almost impossible to prepare for it. No matter how much you wanted it, how much time it took, or how much money it cost. Those things can of course magnify those guilty feelings though. And unfortunately infertility doesn’t make a person exempt from all the normal feelings that come along with parenthood. A lot of which are hard. The thing is you can be simultaneously grateful and in love and joyous, and exhausted and in need of a break and even resentful. They aren’t all mutually exclusive.
I think before we have our first kids we think “yeah it’s hard, but it’s worth it, so it can’t be THAT bad!” It is worth it. So worth it. But that doesn’t negate the hard. And this is such a hard concept to convey to people who haven’t yet experienced it. And as parents we should be able to vent without negating our experiences by reassuring everyone we do in fact love our children. Because of course we do. More than anything ever in existence. Which is part of why it is so hard! (Of course who you vent to matters and feeling like you can’t vent to those who were such a big part of your life for so long, the infertility community, is understandably hard.)
I think everyone starts off parenthood with a little bit of imposter syndrome. Your life changes in the most dramatic way possible literally overnight! You grow as they grow though. And those feelings fade. So even though this isn’t what you’re looking for, and really this is a message for all new moms out there, you are doing a good job. The mythical “other moms” aren’t doing it better than you. That first year with your first kid is like nothing else. Motherhood IS weird. It’s the hardest, best thing. Truly.