This is hard.
That’s what she said.
No, seriously, this parenting stuff is tough. I had no idea.
In my late 20’s, my husband and I decided that we’d casually try not to not try to make babies. As our high school health teachers insisted, getting pregnant was really easy and can happen even after only one night of adolescent ridiculousness, so we assumed that our lackadaisical attitude about birth control would naturally result in a sweet bundle of joy.
Infertility is enormously common. When I was 16, I thought that infertility happened to old, gross people only or was a result of too much ‘shrooming in one’s youth. I was apparently ignorant about sex and drugs. At least I knew everything I needed to know about Rock and Roll.
My gynecologist told me to give it a year. A YEAR. At that point, insurance would label me infertile and would allow me to seek out a specialist.
That year passed. I saw a specialist. Another year passed. Then another.
Finally, I became pregnant. Then, I miscarried. That was the single worst experience of my life. But, within a few months, I became pregnant again and gave birth to my healthy, beautiful first son. A second son followed a few years after that.
But, the story doesn’t end there.
I spent three years in doctors’ offices, having vaginal probes, ultrasounds, blood draws every few days, getting my uterine cells scraped, taking ovulation drugs, even getting surgery. Then, I had a baby.
When my maternity leave ran out, the only thing I could think was, “Now what am I supposed to do?”
I was (and still am) so torn about what to do with my life now that my identity has changed. I spent years of my life focusing so hard on having a child; on eating right and taking my vitamins and seeing my doctor and journaling my routines. Now, lady, you got your damn baby. Now what will you DO with him?
Well, I don’t know, fucker. I never THOUGHT about that.
Am I stay-at-home-mom material? (Nope.) Can I handle seeing my kids for only an hour or so nightly then only on weekends when I also have to do laundry, go grocery shopping, run errands and catch up on other work? (Nope.) Will my job let me work part-time so that I can find that magical “balance” that everyone seems to tell me I must find in order to keep my sanity? (Nope.) Am I prepared to give away one third of my annual salary for a nanny to care for my children in their own home? (Nope.) Do I want my child raised institutionally in a center with 30 other kids whose diapers may or may not get changed all day? (Nope.) Have I thought about how my child will get to and from preschool at the hours of 8 AM and 11 AM while I am at work? (Nope.) Do I want my kids at a babysitter’s house every day where they just stare at the TV all day? (Nope.) Does my family want to provide full-time childcare so that I can have my own life? (Nope.) Does my husband want to quit his job to be a stay-at-home-dad? (Nope.)
So, now what?
I don’t know.
I went back to work and we decided to go ahead and give away that third of my salary for that nanny. She’s spectacular. She’s exactly who I’d pick if I could hand-pick anyone on the planet to be with my kids if it wasn’t going to be my husband or me.
But, I still feel empty. Or I feel as though something isn’t quite right. Or I feel as though there must be a better “balance.” I don’t know what I feel but it isn’t the pure joy I imagined I would have once chiildren came into my life.
The problem is NOT my kids. Sure, I complain about them and their tantrums, poopsplosions, hard-headedness, terrible sleep patterns and tendencies to get into and destroy everything of value in my home.
But, ultimately, the problem is ME.
I have an obligation to provide for my children and family emotionally, financially, spiritually, nutritionally. I have a duty to myself to become a strong person, good role model, and productive member of society for my own mental well-being and so that I show my boys the type of woman I hope they’ll admire and one day marry. I have a responsibility to my husband not to allow him to shoulder the entire burden of providing for this family’s needs and wants,; and to provide him with a good partner in life — someone who is whole, who is happy, who is capable of standing by his side.
So, now what?
Lady, you wanted these kids so badly. Now what are you going to do — how are your going to shape your lives together – how are you going to live out this dream now that it is all so real?
I’ll let you know when I figure it out.