When I got pregnant with my son less than four years ago, I had no idea the changes I was about to face. My body, my mind, my heart, my emotions, my sanity, my personality, my happiness, my stability: it all shifted, some for better and some for worse. The fast pace of the past three years of motherhood feel like a blurry version of peek-a-boo; memories and images flashing then fading, clips of sound, scenes of the strongest emotions I’ve ever felt, everything jumbled together in a mind and body that didn’t sleep for two years.
I don’t know when exactly I disappeared, but I’m finally realizing how hard it is to come back into focus.
I had always been the mother hen of the group among my friends. Growing up in a big extended family full of babies and being the oldest among my siblings, I became a caretaker easily and enjoyed the role as sister, cousin, friend, and babysitter. Once I ‘grew up’, all I wanted was to become a mother. It felt like my destiny; it was what God intended for me. Then, I had a baby, and I quickly found how much more difficult and rewarding it all is.
I struggled to nurse. I struggled to sleep. I struggled to feel like I was doing enough, like I was being enough for my kid. If I’m honest with myself, I struggled with more than just the baby blues after he was born, but I healed and felt stable and moved through it.
Then, it came time to try to extend our journey as parents, and we faced secondary infertility for nearly two years. That’s a short time for so many, but for me, it was agonizing. I had this destiny, and I wanted to fulfill it. Who I was and who I wanted to be and who I wanted my son to be were being jeopardized and held-hostage by this body of mine that felt so broken with no rhyme or reason in sight. I struggled. A lot. I struggled more than I let on, more than I let myself realize. I wasn’t fun anymore or awake; I was in a fog. I was lost. I turned inward.
I tried my best to “think positive” and “have hope” and “trust in God’s plan”. I was determined to find a solution to this problem for which no doctor had yet found any cause. I was determined to give my child a sibling and my husband and I another baby. I wasn’t going to let us down. Then, I did.
Over and over I failed, and with each failure I faded.
I pushed harder. I injected myself with needles and swallowed pills and had blood drawn over and over. It was hard; people told me I was interfering, but I never felt like God was not with me or that I was challenging His plan; I felt like I was fulfilling it. No matter what we had tried, nothing had worked, until it finally did.
We underwent a procedure called intrauterine insemination (IUI) on December 5th, and a few weeks later discovered that we had finally gotten pregnant. But I was still gone.
Some people believe that when a person who is struggling with infertility finally gets her heart’s desperate wishes that the trauma is over; the solution has been found and so the hurt goes away. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. The frustration and anxiety over constantly seeing a negative month after month after month becomes an all-consuming fear that that blessed positive is going to fade and disappear, leaving her once again with nothing but hurt and anger and emptiness.
Even though I’ve seen the baby on the ultrasound screen three times and heard the heartbeat on two different occasions, I’ve still had a really hard time letting myself be happy and comfortable and secure.
My body had betrayed me for so long that it’s been hard to trust it again to not screw everything up again…and somewhere in that struggle, I lost myself.
I wasn’t going to concerts or crossing items off my bucket list like sky diving or traveling. I wasn’t reaching out to others as much, even though I was secretly craving for people to reach out to me. I didn’t host play-dates anymore. I slept a lot. I became very negative and bitter and self-centered and self-righteous. The tiny glimmers of effort I mustered I tried to make into a bigger deal than they were because they made me feel like myself again. I lost friends. Both people I had known for years and people I’d met after my son was born faded into the background.
I was broken, and getting pregnant again didn’t flip a switch and make me better, but it did turn on the light to bring me slowly back into focus.
I’m 13 weeks now. I have more energy; most of my not-so-fun pregnancy symptoms are fading; and I’m able to put more effort into finding myself again. I bought concert tickets for this summer (I’m going to be the most pregnant woman ever at that Weezer concert, and I don’t even care) and have already begun planning a few trips for this year and next. I’ve begun reaching out more to others, trying to be helpful to those who helped me when I was fading, committing random acts of kindness, giving more than receiving to make me feel the good parts of me again: spontaneous and joyful. And most importantly, I’ve made it a point to say thank you to those who held tight even when they probably couldn’t see me at all anymore.
I’m picking up the pieces of my former self that I miss and trying to meld them into the person I want to be, but it’s difficult to find myself again, to not slip back into the fog…especially on the days it feels like no one would notice.
When a day goes by where I don’t feel sick, my mind immediately goes to miscarriage. I haven’t let myself dream of a nursery yet or really planned a way to celebrate this baby, but I’m trying. I really am.
Slowly, I feel myself coming back; colors are brighter; the sun feels warmer; foods taste stronger, and smells overpower me (and not just because of hormones). I’m getting out of the house more, and the blurry outline of who I’ve been feels crisper: different, new, but better: more in focus.
Finally, I can smile without trying, and it’s like, “Ahhh, here I am.”
To being more in focus and rediscovering who we are as people, not just parents, to finding our way back to ourselves, and to the people who led us here: cheers, mommas. ♥