The beauty, and guilt, of motherhood
I tried for years to have children — and then struggled with motherhood
I spent six years trying to have children. It was an incredibly arduous process of bloodwork, injections, vaginal ultrasounds, and embryo transfers — only to end in miscarriage. It was hard on my body, my mind, and my wallet.
I used to say to myself, “if I ever have children, I will never complain about it. I’ll be so grateful for what I have.”
Then I became a mother to two beautiful baby girls in the span of 4.5 months — one through fertility treatments and one via a surrogate.
All my dreams had come true.
And yet, it wasn’t what I expected.
In fact, it was a lot harder than I expected.
Infertility and loss is rooted in hope of happiness: “I’ll be happy when I get pregnant,” and “I’ll be happy when I stay pregnant,” and “I’ll be happy when I finally bring my baby home.”
All of these are true. Crossing the threshold from infertility to parenthood is an incredible feeling and one that many don’t have the privilege of experiencing.
It is also true that parenthood is overwhelming. I like to joke that it takes three adults to have two infants — two people to handle each infant, and one to do everything else. There is double the laundry and diapers and bottles. One cries because the other cries. Breastfeeding was incredibly challenging for me. The sleep deprivation left me stunned, walking in a fog. Sensory input comes in from all directions and both parents feel overstimulated. My wrist began to hurt and I couldn’t lift my kids up.
I like to joke that it takes three adults to have two infants — two people to handle each infant, and one to do everything else.
I felt like my cup was emptying faster than I could fill it. There was no time for self-care, spouse care, or soul care.
As a mother, it felt like I was constantly failing, because I couldn’t give each of my girls exactly what they were asking for at the exact moment they needed it. I cried multiple times a week for months, exhausted by the sheer weight of parenthood.
Worst of all, I felt guilty. After all those years of desperately trying to have children, I finally had them and I was struggling at being a mother.
More than a year has passed since my girls were born and things have stabilized. The night wakings have decreased and they can hold their own bottle. We take them on adventures and delight as they explore the world and develop new skills.
It still isn’t easy. I feel like I am being pulled in different directions (sometimes literally, as they learn to walk). I am learning to find a new balance as I transition to work, which has offered an opportunity to develop myself in a different way.
In every new role, there is a learning curve. Parenthood is the same; beyond the initial learning curve of adding an additional member to your family, the role keeps changing as your child grows.
Parenthood is not the fairy tale I dreamt in my mind as I injected myself with IVF needles for so many months.
But, I wouldn’t change it for the world. For years, I could see my babies on the other side of the glass but I just couldn’t reach them. I’m so grateful to have each day with them, to watch them grow and to grow with them.