Are you in the throws of motherhood after infertility? Have you gone through infertility and come out the other side as a mom? Whether it was through a successful pregnancy, surrogate, or adoption, becoming a parent after struggling with infertility can be a huge transition.
This post is very personal to my own journey. My husband and I have been married since 2009, and we did not have our first child until 2018. We went through about five years of waiting, testing, treatments, and a loss. When we became parents in 2018, our hearts desire came true and our world was turned upside down.
How to navigate motherhood after infertility
When you’re in the thick of infertility, all you can think about is how much you want to have a baby. How much you wish you had a baby. You sometimes may start feeling resentful towards other parents who complain about their kids or had a bad day with their children.
Once you’re pregnant or get matched for adoption, your whole world gets turned upside down. Everything you waited for is finally falling into place.
So you may ask yourself, “How do I navigate motherhood and parenthood after infertility?” It’s much like any other major life change. You take it day by day and figure it out as you go along.
I know that there’s a tendency for women who have had a successful pregnancy after infertility to carry some guilt or anxiety. They fear that any false move, and their baby could be taken away, or something bad could happen. I think that feeling is pretty universal for most brand new moms.
What is infertility?
In general, infertility is defined as not being able to get pregnant (conceive) after one year (or longer) of unprotected sex.
Approximately 1 in 8 couples is affected by infertility in the United States. That’s about 6.7 million people each year who have trouble conceiving. Both women and men can experience infertility.
For more information on infertility here are 13 infertility statistics you should know.
Pregnancy after infertility
If you’ve gone through infertility and were one of the lucky ones to achieve pregnancy after a long fought battle, you know how confusing and uncertain it can feel. It’s basically a mindf**k. (That expression says it best).
If you have experienced any amount of loss on your journey to becoming a parent, you’ve likely experienced PTSD. Becoming pregnant after a loss can cause anxiety, trigger fears, and worst-case scenarios.
When you get that positive pregnancy test, you don’t want to believe it right away. You may think that it may be too good to be true. You wait for the other shoe to drop. You wait for something to go wrong.
But when your pregnancy progresses past the first twelve weeks, you start to take a sigh of relief. However, you don’t let your guard down completely because there are still two more trimesters to get through.
Parenting and motherhood after infertility
Infertility messes with your head. You spend months and months (potentially years and years) longing for a baby. And boom. The day you’ve been dreaming of has arrived. But how do you cope with parenting and motherhood after infertility?
Becoming a parent after years of infertility is wild. Your dream has come true, but sometimes, it can feel like it comes with a special set of “rules”. Like, you can’t complain when you toddler is driving you crazy, because you’ve wanted this toddler for so long. You can’t get stressed out with a newborn because your dreams of motherhood have literally come true. And if you show any sign of resentment, it feels like it could all fall apart.
Any other infertility moms feel this?
But the fact of the matter is, all parents have these feelings. I think when you add in the infertility variable, it feels wrong to have any stressful or annoyed feelings. But that’s the reality of parenthood. It’s hard. It’s confusing. It’s flying by the seat of your pants on a daily basis, hoping and praying you’re not screwing your kid up for life.
Common Questions About Motherhood after Infertility
How can I support my friends going through infertility?
If you have never gone through infertility, the best way to support friends who are experiencing infertility is to listen. Let them vent, let them voice their frustrations, worries, and fears. You don’t want to try and “explain” their situation or say that it’s “meant to be” or “it will all work out someday”. Those types of phrases are not helpful.
If you have been through infertility, and had a successful pregnancy and birth, you, too, can support friends going through infertility. Since you are familiar with the road, you can share you personal experience, if your friends ask. You can listen to their experiences and ask questions (if they want you too). Most of all, be an empathetic ear. Infertility can feel like a long and lonely road, and support from a friend who understands is invaluable.
How can I celebrate my baby while remembering the one(s) I have lost?
Every mother celebrates and commemorates differently. Personally, on October 15th which is Miscarriage and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, I light a candle for the baby we have in heaven.
I have a friend who endured two miscarriages and a second trimester loss. She celebrates and remembers her three children regularly. Now that she has a two year old, she talks to him about his siblings in heaven with little celebrations throughout the year. It’s the sweetest. My friend also says that it warms her heart when friends and family remember her babies in heaven by saying their names or just remembering them.
I think that many people (myself included) may feel like bringing up losses may be too painful for parents. It’s definitely a personal decisions. But of the handful of people I know who have had a second or third trimester loss, they appreciate when their baby is remembered.
It’s a very personal decision and choice about how you may want to commemorate. There is no right or wrong way. I would also encourage you to not feel guilty celebrating your baby, they are a gift.
How do I not feel guilty for having a successful pregnancy when I know so many who are struggling through infertility?
Flip the narrative. I remember seeing so many friends get pregnant while I was going through infertility. It was tough and frustrating. However, it also gave me hope. When I saw a friend who was in her late 30’s get pregnant, I saw it as a beacon of hope that it was not too late for me.
If you’re a new mom and you have friends struggling with infertility, it’s not time to feel guilty. At the same time, be cognizant of what you say around your friends longing to be parents. Don’t be insensitive; don’t complain about your child(ren) even when they drive you crazy.
When I was still in the thick of infertility treatments and I had a couple of friends who had gotten pregnant quickly and easily. I read their Facebook post about how their toddler was driving them crazy. All I could think was, “You should be thankful you even have a child.” Be aware of what you say, and in front of whom you say it.
You don’t have to filter everything you say, but just be empathetic to your friends who wish they could have what you currently have. I make it a point to never complain about my son publicly. Sure, he may drive me to my wits end some days, but never a day goes by that I’m not thankful for him.
While I don’t want people assume that he’s a perfect angel either, I don’t ever want to act like a resentful mother.
The Last Thing You Need to Know About Motherhood After Infertility
Parenting and motherhood is different for everyone. Especially for parents who have gone through infertility. The goal of this post was to validate feelings and let you know that all those feelings are normal.
Parenting after infertility is truly a gift. When you’ve longed to be a parent for so long, and you finally have that opportunity? You’re over the moon! The key is to remember to do your best. Love your child. Celebrate them. Remember any losses in a way that feels right to you.
Some new parents may feel like they don’t deserve the gift of their baby after their long road to get there. But know that you were chosen – by God, the Universe, whatever you may believe – to be your child’s parent. You were built for this, whether you know it or not.
Don’t beat yourself up if you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing. Most parents feel that way! Often!
Have you gone through infertility and had success? What was it like to become a parent after going through infertility? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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