Friday, July 9, 2010

Cherished

Do infertiles cherish their children more than fertiles? Maybe. I don’t think anyone would disagree that baby-loss mamas have a particularly deep appreciation of their living children. Am I the only one who thinks about this when I check my daughter’s breathing at night? Or when I watch her sleep, in awe that she’s actually here?

I’ve been wanting to write a post about parenting after infertility for a while. I was spurred on by an incident I witnessed on the subway on my way home from work earlier this week. Now keep in mind that it has been about a gajillion degrees in NYC this week. A mother and her three children got on the train. Two girls, maybe twins, or maybe just very close in age. About 4-5 years old. And their big brother, who looked to be about 7. The mother looked irritated and distracted. She was on her cell phone. There were three seats available, so she sat down in one seat with one girl in her lap (who she ignored, even though she was holding her), and the boy sat next to her, with the other girl next to him. The girl on the end immediately cuddled up to her brother. He cuddled her back. She was all in his space, playing and grabbing and laughing. He was wonderful with her. Patient, loving and playful. My heart swelled watching this. Mom ignored it, continuing to talk on her phone. Seats opened up on the other side of her, so she put the other girl next to her. The children were energetic and not quiet. The mom snapped. She yelled at them and smacked the girl next to her. There were too many people between us for me to see exactly how and where she smacked the girl. It didn’t sound particularly hard, but still … there was no need for it. She started crying. Mom ignored her and continued her phone call. Her big brother went over and held her and comforted her.

It’s hard to know what, if anything, to say in these kind of situations. As I was about to get off the train I told the boy he was a great big brother and that I could tell his sisters loved him so much. I expect there will be times with Sunshine that I will lose my cool. My patience is not infinite. But I can not imagine behaving as this mother did. Yelling and hitting children because they were playing too loudly? That’s not discipline. That’s just fucked up.

Back to parenting after infertility. Well, I don’t have any other experience to compare it to. I just love her so much! Every day it seems like my heart expands a little more. She is such a happy baby, I want her to have the happiest childhood ever. I am always aware of what a miracle she is. There are still cycling reminders in my apartment. The last sharps container with the PIO needles in my linen closet that I can’t part with. The unused needles and syringes in my kitchen cabinet, next to the glasses. (I keep thinking I’ll use some of them one day to inject butter and drippings into a turkey breast, like I read in a NYT article about surrogacy, but I certainly don’t need to save as many as I have in there.) Then there’s Sunshine herself. As she gets older, it’s more and more obvious to others that she doesn’t look like me. (Except for the chubby thighs!) She really looks like her sibs, my donor’s children. Sometimes I explain her origins, and sometimes I don’t. For me, it’s cool that I get a bit of a preview of what she’ll look like as she gets older by looking at pictures of J and E. She’s gorgeous! When I come to get her after work, her face lights up when she sees me. I’m her mommy. The one who nurses her, who cuddles her, who wipes away her very occasional tears. I can only hope she won’t have any problems with the fact that we don’t look alike. I hope that she will be like this girl. Proud of who she is and how she came to be.

She is my precious gift. I wish all children were cherished that way.

14 comments:

Tiara said...

Very insightful...when I started ttc & was getting overwhelmed with the ups & downs, my friend emailed me the quote, "that which comes too easily, we take for granted" I wonder if that's what it's like for fertile parents, they take for granted how easy is it was for them...makes you think...

Anonymous said...

There will be a moment when you lose it because we all do. I hope people are kind and non-judgemental of you when it happens.

I assume you don't mean to be insulting, but when you assume you love/cherish your child more than someone who didn't go through infertility it is, at best, insulting to those people who didn't go through infertility.

Dora said...

Anonymous, maybe you didn't read the part where I said I do expect to lose it sometimes. The incident I witnessed was so mild on the part of the kids that it made me wonder how this woman would react if they really misbehaved. I really found it painful to watch her oblivious to the love between her children. It was so beautiful. The news is full of stories of indifferent and abusive parents. Sometimes I judge. It's human.

As to insulting fertiles, that was certainly not my intention. But, IMO, parenting after a long wait/struggle, treatments, loss, etc. is just ... different. I am writing for my readers, who are part of the adoption/loss/infertility online community. I want to know how they feel about finally being parents. When you spend years wondering if you'll ever get to be a mom, there is a surreal quality to it.

Navigating The Rapids said...

I don't think it's a matter of whether or not infertiles cherish their kids more than fertiles, I think it's the kind of parent you are. Some are good, some are not.

Navigating The Rapids said...

Just to add, what I feel when I look at my daughter as I suspect other mom's who've had IF issues, is that I know the possibility that she might never have been is all to real. I know how very luck I am, because it wasn't as simple as I thought it would have been.

Baby Smiling In Back Seat said...

There are great fertile parents out there, but there are also horrible ones, as well as many in between.

I have known lots of great and inbetween infertile parents. I have never known a horrible infertile parent. They may be out there, but I would bet money that there are fewer. For one thing, if parenting isn't something that you want with your whole heart, a few years of infertility will weed you out.

hopefulcc said...

Great post. When you were describing what happened on the subway, I couldn't help but think the same thing.
Tiara's quote sums it up well, too.

Bella said...

So true! And, sorry anonymous but I do think that those of us who went through infertility tend to take our children for granted a little less. We all lose our patience sometimes, but I know for me it's always in the back of my mind that I could easily have had no children at all. I'm not sure if a fertile could know what it feels like to wonder and wait for children for years.

Dora, Sunshine is soooo cute!

Billy said...

Surreal (your response to anno) - yes. I often look at her and can't believe she is my daughter, that she came out of me...

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say hi! I am a 46 year old single donor embryo mama to two beautiful babies who turn a year old this week. Am glad to have found your blog!

Selmada said...

Thanks for this post.

I have friends who I know love and cherish their kids even though they were concieved so easily. They are clearly overly-fertile and dont take their kids for granted.

I also know people who really do take their kids for granted, in so many ways. They think I'm happy to leave my boys each day when I go to work so I can "get a break from them". I never want a break from my kids. I'm sure there will be days (twin boys, there have to be days eventually), but I'd love to stay home with them full time.

I've met, both virtually and in person, many infertiles with kids. Not one takes their kids for granted.

jodie38 said...

Ditto Baby Smiling In Back Seat and Tiara. I couldn't possibly say anything any better.

Thanks for posting the link to the video as well, Dora. Very, very cool....

Hugs to your sweet tiny Sunshine from me!

Kristin said...

Absolutely wonderful post!

Annie said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting on my Lovenox question! I thought you post was very interesting. It's probably true that people who've had to fight long and hard to have children don't take them for granted as much. I think we may be overprotective, too, though and that can be a bad thing.

I had two children, then lost two, then became infertile. I've been under tremendous stress for years. My kids don't really remember the happy person I used to be, and I have major guilt trips every time I do get overwhelmed and impatient with them. No one's perfect all the time, especially under these kinds of circumstances.