Education, Infertility

Working With Children. Coping With Infertility.

Below is an updated version of a blog entry I wrote last year for National Infertility Awareness week. I’d taken the entry off-line and stopped blogging under that name, but since it is NIAW again, I decided to re-post! I hope it will serve as an encouragement to those who work with children while struggling with infertility!

As a child-care provider, I know how hard it is to go to work every day with children that you absolutely adore, and return home every night with the empty feeling of not being able to have your own. It sucks, frankly. It sucks to get attached to children whose lives you will only be in for a short period of time. It sucks to be around mothers who talk excitedly with one another about their child’s development and the fun things they do with their kids during the weekend. It sucks when you see families that aren’t so great, and you wonder why they are lucky enough to have children they don’t want and you are unlucky enough to want children you don’t have. I get it. And yet, no matter how you’re feeling, you still have to show up to work with a professional and cheerful attitude. You still have to be around and discuss infants, toddlers, and children all.of.the.time. You still have to keep up with all the latest parenting trends and child-development developments. You still have to bring your A-game and make life wonderful for these kids while they’re with you.

So, how do you cope?

Take it minute by minute.

Your infertility is something about which you can feel hopeful, indifferent, and totally depressed within just a few minutes! I have certainly experienced times at work where I have felt blessed and content just to be around my wonderful kids, knowing that at the right time I will get pregnant and have my own. Less than two minutes later, I’m trying to hold it all together as my kids pile up in my lap and ask me to read them a story. You have to deal responsibly with each emotion as it arises. Acknowledge and validate each emotion, but remember that you still have a job to do and the kids you’re with right now are counting on you right now. Don’t let them down.

Remember that many of the children we work with did not come as easily as we think.

Sometimes we look at our daycare kids and think that their moms are so lucky to just be able to pop out babies so easily! I once babysat for one of my students, and his mom revealed to me that they had tried to get pregnant for three years before he was born! Another of my kids’ parents suffered four miscarriages before finally having her son. Hearing these stories really was a great reminder that alot of the parents I am serving have had their own lengthy struggles with infertility as well! It is encouraging to know that after all their struggle, they were finally able to concieve!

Remain grateful for the things you can do, while you can do them.

As professionals who work with children, we have the advantage of not romanticizing motherhood! I have heard some say that a profession in child-care is a form of birth control, because we know the nitty gritty details of what children are really like and we have a pretty good idea of the all-consuming effort it takes to keep a child happy and healthy! Whenever I am hanging out with my husband, I feel grateful that we have the kind of strong and loving relationship that children should be brought into. It’s nice when we can randomly decide to do things together. And I love my lazy Saturdays. Of course, the “inconveniences” of losing free time and sleep won’t bother me as much when I become a mother – because I have waited years for the chance to sit up all night with a fussy baby – but since I currently do not have that responsibility, I try to enjoy the lazy Saturdays and the impromptu Netflix nights with my husband.

Don’t lose yourself in your infertility!

I think that this is probably the most important item on the list. It is incredibly easy to become obsessive with all the charting, doctor visits, symptom spotting, and online comiserating that goes on while you’re in the cycle of two week waits. You can lose yourself. You can forget that you are not your infertility. I will admit that I desperately want to become a mother. If you follow my blog, you know that I feel motherhood is more than a desire – but a calling that God has placed on my life. But I have other interests, too. I have other goals. I have hobbies that don’t relate to childcare and childhood development, and I will not allow my infertility to consume my life. Get back in touch with who you were and what you loved before you started trying for children. Take the opportunity to soak yourself in those things, because hopefully all your free time will soon be zapped away by your precious little bundle of hard work!

Obviously, these things are more easily said (or written) than done. I know that. It’s very hard to keep a good attitude about your infertility, since there is never really an ‘end in sight.’ But if infertility is something you struggle with – and especially if you’re struggling with this while working with children – you should be proud of your ability to bravely and optimistically face what is likely one of the hardest and loneliest times of your life. Approached with the right attitude, you can learn amazing things during this time and your future children (and the world around you) will be better off on account of the things that you have learned how to endure.

Family, Infertility

Pregnancy after Infertility

Last year, I read the blog of a woman who, after years of infertility, had finally become pregnant. She mentioned that though she had sympathy for those who were still struggling with infertility, she could no longer empathize. It was as if the news of her pregnancy had wiped away all the years of pain that she had experienced, seemingly to the point where she could no longer relate to those within the infertile community. I remember reading that, and wondering if the all-consuming pain of childlessness would be completely erased from my memory the minute I held a BFP in my hands. But that hasn’t been my experience. I haven’t forgotten how it feels to be infertile, and as this year’s National Infertility Awareness Week begins, I find myself in the odd position of being completely able to empathize with those trapped in the endless cycle of treatments and two week waits, while feeling simultaneously undeserving of and grateful for the gift of life that God has deigned to give me.

Pregnancy after infertility, in my experience, has been an interesting emotional adventure. I begged God for this for so long, and now that it’s been granted – I find myself wondering why God gave me this gift as opposed to someone who has been waiting longer or someone who has been through more trauma than I in their pursuit of parenthood. When people congratulate me, they sometimes say that I “deserve”this, and though I appreciate that and take it as a compliment – I also know that it is not true. I was given this gift as a grace and a mercy from God. I did nothing to deserve it, just as the childless woman has done nothing to deserve childlessness. I am overwhelmingly grateful. But my gratitude doesn’t negate the fact that there are still so many thousands of women who are in pain, waiting on their miracles. And hundreds whose prayers for miracles will never be answered with a “yes.” The fact that God has seen fit to gift me in this way humbles me, more than you could ever imagine.

Another effect of pregnancy after infertility is my inability to feel completely comfortable with pregnant women for whom pregnancy came easily. As I read books, articles, or forums written by women who got pregnant ‘on cue,’ I find myself feeling alienated. Their light-hearted attitudes toward getting pregnant and their ability to complain with ease about their various pregnancy symptoms seems almost sacrilegious to me! I understand that they are just venting and “being honest,” which they certainly have the right to do, but I can’t make a statement like “I wish I weren’t so sick!” without feeling like I’d be wishing away my child! Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t felt amazing over the course of the past few weeks – but my ability to be consistently grateful for my “ailments” has surprised even me!

I have a heightened sense of fear of things like loss and secondary infertility. It took what feels like an eternity to finally achieve this pregnancy, I would be crushed if I could not carry this child to delivery. And crushed if getting pregnant again took just as long – or longer. So I will cherish every moment of pain, illness, or exhaustion – because who can say that this will ever happen to me again?

Finally, there is a bit of a change of identity. For so long, I subconsciously have identified myself as an infertile. I hoped for a child, but over time I became less and less attached to the idea that it would ever actually happen. Now that is has, I am not sure what to make of things! Honestly, I am still in a bit of shock and disbelief. We’ll see how that sorts itself out over time.

I am still praying and hoping daily for those of you who are where I was. It’s such a tough road, and no one should have to do it alone. I hope that, this week, I can do my part to raise awareness and support for those still fighting to become parents.

Uncategorized

Settling in!

We are finally out of the hotels and into an apartment that we found here in our new state! I can’t stress enough how much I despised living in a hotel for two weeks! I remember a time when someone told me that she’d been living in a hotel for a month and expressed to me how much she hated it, and at that time, I kept thinking “How can anyone hate living in a hotel? That sounds awesome!” But, I get it now. It’s terrible. And I only had to endure two weeks!!

My husband’s first day off work was on my birthday, so we spent the day looking for apartmemts in the area surrounding his job. At one point in our search, I felt like I was on my favorite show “House Hunters,”because we were stuck trying to decide between three decent options. We made a pros and cons list to help us with our decision and ended up in this cute apartment with three bedrooms and a lot of square footage – and for a cheaper amount than we would have found anything like this back in our old stomping grounds.

On Easter weekend, we went back home to spend time with family and pack up our old apartment. Since being married, we’ve moved four times – but this was the first time that we hired movers! The guys were nice and efficient but I think they were a bit frustrated with our disorganized way of doing things. Once we got to our new place, our cat was scared out of his wits. For two days he wouldn’t come out of the back room. I got a little worried about the fact that I couldn’t get him to eat or play, but I tried to give him some space and hope he would come out of his shell. Soon enough, he did.

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Hubby had off again the past two days and we spent most of the time unpacking and buying things for our new place. I can’t wait to get everything set up and decorated! I have always enjoyed interior design, but have never had the time (or money, usually) to put into it! Hopefully I can try to do more decorating in this place than I have in my previous apartments.

Amidst all this excitement, though, I must say that the highlight of my week was finding that my favorite grocery store – Trader Joe’s – is only a little less than 20 minutes away! I was so pumped to be able to shop in a Trader Joe’s again and stock up on all our groceries for the week!

The weather here has been really nice as well. My only regret about moving when we did is that I missed my personal spring tradition of going to the Cherry Blossom festival events in D.C. Since 2007, I have never missed the festival! But, I am looking forward to the summer, when we will have a few visitors and make some day trips to the beach!