Lots of people say that you struggle with your infertility all your life. Aside from the occasional internal eyeroll when some starlet whose lifestyle is clearly incompatible with parenting gets pregnant, I don't generally think that's the case with me. Maybe because I can see now that Matthew was the reason we had such a long wait, I don't find myself struggling so much with seeing the commercials about parenthood, hearing the tear-jerker songs, attending a baby-shower, or passing a pregnant woman in the mall. For some IF women, those things will still always be a painful reminder of what was so hard for them to come by, regardless of how many children they do or don't have at this point in their journeys. At least right now anyway, I'm content with "just" having Matthew (in arms), so those things don't bother me, thankfully.
Thus, for the most part, I don't really think of us as "infertile" anymore. I mean, we are, medically. We always will be. But right now, our infertility actually provides a sort of freedom for us. We don't have to deal with the ethical dilemmas of birth control, but we also know we won't be surprised with another pregnancy and birth sooner than we feel we're ready for one.
So it's taken me a little off guard that our infertility has affected my parenting.
In some ways, it's actually been really helpful. All those sleep-deprived nights, all (most) of those times I was throwing up so much in pregnancy, all those little battles of the will I have with Matthew--they're easier to weather if I remind myself how desperately I longed for this life. Not in a "you asked for it-suck it up, buttercup" sort of way, but in a "this temper tantrum right now is still better than life before temper-tantrums" or a "remember all those times you thought you'd give anything to have this kind of 'problem'" sort of way. I've been able to give myself many a pep-talk by thinking this way. That doesn't mean that there aren't hard days--those of you who read my blog through my pregnancy know I HATED when other people gave me those pep talks while I puked. Today is one of those less-than-stellar days. Matthew has been cranky and willful and stubborn all day. He's thrown as many tantrums as he has toys, and he's been disobedient, and he's refused to take the naps that would help snap him out of this. Thankfully, he finally is sleeping now, and I have some time to decompress. Just like "first world problems," where most of the rest of the world would love to trade places with westerners and their complaints, this is a "parenting problem" and I am cognizant that there are thousands of couples who would give anything to be in our shoes, dealing with a day like today, and so that helps me refocus and perk back up pretty quickly.
But there are other ways where I've been a little surprised by myself. The biggest thing I'm struggling with is having peace with the passing of Matthew's infancy. Everyone says things like "Oh, it goes by so fast!" but you don't really realize how fast until you're here. Couple that with the fact that I feel like I spent the first 6 months of Matthew's life in a sleep-deprived stupor, and things are just whizzing by entirely too quickly. There's a part of me that whines, "we waited 7 years for this and now it's passing in the blink of an eye!" The 9 months of pregnancy, or any one year in the 7 all passed by much more slowly than this year has. I don't know if it's the fact that there's no guarantee that we'll ever get to do this again, or if it's the fact that when you wait a long time for something you want to relish it slowly, or the fact that there are fewer *big* milestones in our past than there are in our immediate future, or the fact that a lot of the "firsts" are now passed (first Easter, first Christmas, etc), or what, but it's been a source of discontent for me. His birthday is in 2 weeks, and I've been in complete denial about it. Not a cute sort of whimsical denial but a "this isn't happening, ever" sort of denial. And I need to snap out of it. It's not fair to Matthew, and it's not representative of the gratitude I have for his life. I am coming around, slowly. It's one of those things I need to work through on my own, even though everyone tells me that "every age is the best age" and "enjoy this current time, don't think about the past time." I know those things are true, I just am working on really internalizing them. Trust me, I don't need to hear them again. I lecture myself enough ;)
So anyway, I'm dealing. And I've made a lot of progress since Christmas. This weekend I even made plans for a little get-together with the grandparents for his birthday, and I ordered some party supplies last night. I even have a theme and some cute plans (I'm not telling, though!) I'm not as melancholy as I sound (at least I'm not anymore), but I have really been surprised at how much this has affected me. So, I suppose it's true that IF will somehow always be a part of us, and I'll just have to be on the lookout for these sly little ways it sneaks in to surprise me and try to steal my joy.
In the mean time, I'm off to look for a time machine... ;)