Life with a baby is all about change. You wake up in the hospital after the delivery, look at your life from just a few days before, and barely recognize it as your own. Suddenly, EVERYTHING is different. EVERYTHING. Your body has changed and is doing things it instinctively knows how to do, waiting for your brain to catch up. Your focus had changed and suddenly, many formerly important things have all been replaced with an obsessive focus on this tiny little being that just came out of you. Your fears, your goals, your memory, your strength— changed, changed, changed and changed, whether you like it or not. Finally, you realize that your personality has also changed, and it has done so without checking with you or waiting for your approval. This one is the most drastic and unnerving change of all. Up until the baby is born, you imagine how you’ll feel when she’s here. Once she arrives, you might find that how you thought you’d feel is vastly different than how you actually feel.
But change permeates even deeper than this. Your days are different than before. But they’re also different from day to day. Your Baby is different from day to day. Your emotional health is different, not just from day to day, but from minute to minute. You find yourself looking for something, ANYTHING, that hasn’t changed. You realize that you need to find a constant. Most often, what you need is scarce, and that only adds to the anxiety and doubt.
Suddenly, you’re this frazzled, exhausted, foggy-brained person who can’t tell whether she’s coming or going. Tears flow…a lot…and often. Panic visits you…frequently. Doubt settles in: “can I do this? What if I suck at this? Is there something wrong with me? What happened to that functional person who resided in this body up to now? What’s going on with this body and will it ever be the body I used to know?” You doubt everything. You doubt your own abilities, thoughts and strengths. That’s because you are in a constant state of change and you barely have time to process what’s happening. Standards, measures and qualifications for competency have been changed beyond your grasp. And, if you are the perfectionist type (like I am), gosh help you! You’re gonna have to find a way to stop being so, because you won’t make it if you’re going to keep trying to be perfect at everything. That’s what I’m working on right now.
Am I complaining? I don’t mean to. Am I delving into how life feels these days? For sure. Am I feeling distressed over my new, thoroughly changed life? Naturally. Am I wishing for some of the former familiarity? A little. Am I trying to stagger my way through this labyrinth of pure change? Absolutely! Does any of this make me bad or deficient? Not at all. All this simply makes me human. All this simply makes me wiser. All this just means that I’m evolving.
So, here’s some newly gained wisdom, and I’m especially directing it to those who are searching heaven and earth to find their ways to their babies. Yes, I’m especially talking to fellow infertiles here: judge those who tell you about the woes and difficulties of motherhood less harshly; don’t give up your dream of having a baby; don’t give up on the romantic notions of how it will be to finally have your babies; revel in the possibility of finding your ways to your babies; then, brace yourselves. Because once your little ones come, everything will inevitably change and you’ll feel stressed, anxious, tired, doubtful and emotionally spent. And when that time comes, be kind to yourself and have compassion for how you feel. Your (infertile) life, however sad it may have felt, had a whole lot of great in it. And, when baby comes, it just changes beyond your recognition. It’s okay to miss the familiar. I promise you.
Oh, and one more thing: YOU CAN DO THIS. YOU WILL FIND A WAY TO EMBRACE THE CHANGE. At least that’s my hope.
Post script: I was mulling over the state of absolute change when my sixth week checkup came up and took me to my OB’s office last week. There, while sitting in an overflowing waiting room, rocking my baby to sleep while trying to make the stroller take less room, the concept of CHANGE crystallized. I was now sitting in the same room I’ve sat in on two prior occasions while waiting to have a painful D&C because I had miscarried. This time, I was sitting in that room, holding my sleeping baby and having a heart to heart with another new mom. Change may be difficult or exhilarating. It all depends on your outlook. I’m lucky to be experiencing pure change.