A few weeks ago we ran into a teaching acquaintance of C’s. She was from the school where he was working when we lost Abby, so she was aware of our struggles to get to where we are. She cooed over Max, like everyone does a new baby. But it was what she said that left an impression.
“It makes it all worth it, right?”
When I look at my beautiful, perfect, little baby boy, am I glad I didn’t stop fighting? Hell yes!
But was it worth it? I don’t know why this has stuck with me. Perhaps it was the flip way that this stranger said it to me… because I don’t know her at all. Maybe I’m too sensitive. To my ears, it almost sounded like what she meant was that everything we went through, the infertility, the loss, is what is expected to get a baby at the end. That if you fight hard enough, it will happen. An infertile knows this isn’t true. It’s sheer luck. Maybe it strikes a chord, because I’m still so incredibly envious of all the people who make it look easy. Snap their fingers and they have all the babies they need to make their families complete. I’m working on it. I really am. I’m trying to let it all go. But it’s a process…. backed up by lots of years of disappointment and hurt.
Was it all worth it? Would I do it all again to get to my son? How do I say ‘no’? How do I say ‘yes’? Losing Abby broke me in ways that I’m not sure can ever be fixed. Have I walked away from that experience a stronger person? Sure. And it sure as hell has made me value every moment of my son’s life right from the very beginning of knowing he survived transfer and burrowed himself a spot inside me.
Why did it have to be so hard? Why did the path have to be so long and windy and full of potholes? Will I ever find meaning in the “journey”? Will that make it better? Will it all make sense one day? I don’t know. I might just need to eventually let it all go and stop searching for a greater purpose.
Was it worth it?
My son is the best thing I ever did with my life. Being a mom is the most important job I’ve ever had. He makes me want to be a better person and the best momma I can possibly be. That’s all I know.
A couple of weeks ago, Max and I made the trek back to our fertility clinic to show him off. I have stayed in touch with my favourite nurse, and had emailed him when Max was born with a picture and the details. I also sent a Christmas card with Max’s newborn Christmas photo in it, but it was time for a face-to-face meeting. The clinic also has a “wall of success” (actually several walls now) where they put all the babies’ footprints.
I have waited so long to have footprints on that wall. The way the clinic is set up, one has to walk past these footprint-decorated walls to get from the waiting area and blood rooms to the ultrasound and other treatment rooms. I walked through with longing on so many occasions. So many times, wondering if I would ever have my child’s feet on that wall.
It was so emotional. To walk through those doors with my little miracle. I know they see them all the time, but it was an inexplicable feeling. Tears were shed as that little foot went on the wall.
I got pictures of Max being held by my favourite nurse — he was instrumental in this journey — and pictures of him being held by Dr. M. I couldn’t tell you the name of the doctor who delivered my baby, and while I could tell you about my actual MFMs, nobody in the medical field was as important as the people at that fertility clinic. We wouldn’t have Max without them. I am eternally grateful for the day that my favourite nurse picked up the phone and told us we could come back — it was one of the darkest days of this infertility journey where I was absolutely sure I would lose my mind (and my will to keep going) and he saved me by doing what they do — helping people (all people without discrimination) have babies.
When Dr. M was holding Max he asked when we’d be back to make another. I told him we had one little frostie in the freezer and that I hoped he could work his magic again. I don’t know if we’ll be lucky enough to strike gold twice, but we’re sure going to try. There’s room for more feet on that wall…
The infertile is an outsider to a very important club. The mommy club. We’re like little children standing outside the toy store window — always on the outside looking in. So desperately wanting in. I can’t count how many times I was asked “do you have kids” and when I answered “no”, it was like I was immediately disqualified because I couldn’t possibly understand if I didn’t have kids. It was like a kick to the gut every time.
One of my biggest peeves is when clients would do it. Not necessarily to me (although sometimes), but towards their F&CS workers. “Blah, blah, blah… stupid worker doesn’t even have kids, what does she know?” Yeah, because if F&CS is at your door, you’re obviously doing a bang up job.
The first time I realized I was part of the club was right after Christmas. Max was almost one month old and we were out doing some “boxing day” shopping. I left Chris with Max in the stroller to try on some clothes in the change room and the sales woman started talking to me about sleep deprivation and having a new baby. Soon, a woman who was waiting for someone in the change room chimed in. And we were all talking about our babies and sleep and feeding. Just like that, I was part of the club.
Most days, it still doesn’t feel real. There’s a part of me that keeps waiting for someone to take him away from me. “Time’s up, we were just kidding, give him back”. It’s probably why I don’t want to miss a moment of time with him. Sometimes I find myself holding him while he sleeps and I’m thinking of all the things I could be doing if I just put him in his swing to sleep. But I keep holding him. Because even if no one takes him away from me, one day he won’t want to be held all the time. I feel like I need to make the most of every single moment.
I wonder if all parents feel this way or if infertility and loss does something to you? Does it make the parenting experience different? Did my hard-fought battle to join this exclusive and elusive club make me a different kind of momma? I’m not sure. I just know that it has made me the kind of momma — the kind of person — that doesn’t take any of this great gift — this club membership — for granted.
I blink and weeks have passed since I’ve written here. I compose posts in my head but I always opt for Max-snuggles over screen time. In fact today, a snowy day in Southwestern Ontario, I did little more than snuggle my son. I could have put him down once he fell asleep but why? Time passes so quickly and one day I won’t be able to snuggle him all day.
So I’m going to offer up a summary post of things and goings-on. Each deserves it’s own post likely, but you do what you can do.
Abby Day — Another January 26 came and went. Two years since we said goodbye. A little easier this year but I’m still haunted by the wonderings of what might have been. In some respects, it’s almost harder to think of Abby while holding her little brother. I look at him and feel such sadness that I never got to look at her in the same way. I’ll never know what kind of kid she would have been. Having a baby is no longer an abstract concept for me and it has changed my grief for the one that I lost.
Breastfeeding — Thank you for all of your comments and support. I bawled my face off the day I decided we were done but I’ve accepted where we’re at. I’m still pumping 4-5 times/day, so Max is getting about 1/3 or more of his daily milk from me. I’ve decided I’ll pump as long as it’s worth it in terms of output and until it drives me nuts. And he’s still doing his morning feed from the bo.ob. Funny thing is, when we decided to stop nursing, he became a better nurseling! So sometimes he’ll nurse throughout the day too when I haven’t pumped in a while and my bo.obs are extra full. It’s enough for me. Because if I was being completely honest with myself, I didn’t love nursing. I loved the idea of it and I would have loved it if everything worked perfectly. But it didn’t and it just stressed me out. And I’m not a big fan of nursing in public places. I hate that nursing cover and I wouldn’t just let it all hang out because I wouldn’t want to make other people uncomfortable. Maybe it all would have been different if things worked properly. I watch other breast-feeding moms do it with such comfort and ease and there is still a sense of “why not me”. But then I give Max his bottle and watch how happy he is to drink his milk and nothing else really seems to matter.
Max — oh my goddess how I love this child! He’s smiling and cooing and more interactive now. He’s such a sweet boy and an easy baby. He cries when he’s hungry and when he’s tired. Can’t ask for better than that. Sure, he has his fussy days but it’s really nothing. And he’s finally growing! After weeks of barely skimming by at his weight checks with the LC, at his 2 month appointment/vaccines, he had gained 2 lbs in two weeks!!! Which kinda made me feel like an asshole because he clearly wasn’t getting enough milk. Now he needs to slow down on the growth because my almost 10 week old baby is almost all grown out of his 3 month clothes and sporting some of his 6 month clothes. He’s 14lbs 5 oz and 24.5 inches as of last week. My healthy boy!