Thursday, March 24, 2011

On Trying Again

"We tell ourselves stories in order to live." -Joan Didion

This was supposed to be a blog about having a baby. About parenting a little boy that arrived here on earth only after so much sweaty, teary-eyed, wing-and-a-prayer effort. But what I've discovered is that infertility remains inextricably part of my experience as a parent, because it's part of who H is -- the daily gratitude I feel for him is also a reminder of every difficult moment conquered to get to him -- and because of the future. Because unlike most parents milling around suburbia, as I say goodbye to each stage, as I put away baby toys and tiny infant clothes, I know I could be slowly moving out of this time and place of parenting a small child. Could be leaving behind the very thing I've wanted since my time began. I may not get to linger here like the others. May not get to give those maternity clothes another spin.

I look at H these days and see a boy. His cheeks still have a little bit of puffy baby to them, but he is taller, sturdier, more sure of himself. He brought a book over to me this morning, and when I asked him if he wanted me to read it to him, he nodded. It was the first time I felt like we had a real conversation. I feel like we've rounded the bend into the second year and I'm gripping the edges of his babyhood for dear life, mentally willing us back to the fall, when toddlerville still seemed so abstract.

Don't get me wrong: I love this place, too. It keeps getting better and better, and I continue to declare each new month "my favorite stage." But I looked at some pictures of H as a newborn last night, and I can't even remember what it felt like to hold him when he was so small. It was like looking at someone else entirely. I don't know how to be better about capturing these moments. I don't know how to file them away in some safe area of my subconscious, where I can find them again and dust them off on some gray day when all of this is really behind me.

Having a second child is a kind of betrayal, to my mind. A first baby remains a baby as long as he is the only one in the house. We tell ourselves we're having another to give the first one a playmate, but really where the child is concerned, we know he would rather be the only one with reign over the toys in the house. Really, it's about giving him a family that will be here long after we've moved on -- about giving him the kind of person who will know exactly what he means when he says, Remember how mom and dad used to... and he won't even have to finish. And really, if you keep searching, more than anything it's about keeping your house filled with sweet baby laughter for as long as possible. It's about wanting to relive baby #1's babyhood, but this time in a more deliberate, less uptight, more enlightened way.

For me, and for all of us who had to work harder than is fair to get our first babies, that drive for a second may be an unfortunate biological wire crossing -- an innate desire gone wrong. I may, in the end, need to find something else to do with my time and energy for this. But I have to try. And, with 35 looming and eggs that can't afford to be any wonkier, that has to be now. I have to push toward it despite the voice asking for more time, reminding me of all that was so complicated about my last pregnancy. I have to tell myself that this one will be different. I have to trick myself into believing that, if it works again, it will be 9.5 months of pickles-and-ice-cream bliss. That I will believe in it this time, I will relish it, I will buy designer maternity jeans because they will not be a waste of money. I will have preggie pedis and have my bump placed on record by a professional photographer. I will be active until my due date. And I can have a VBAC! A two-hour delivery! No traumatic birth experience to cry about this time!

This is what I tell myself. Because I have to try.


Anonymous said...

It is gut-wrenchingly unfair that we actually have to have these types of conversations. I just wish everyone who dealt with IF and had one successful pregnancy could then be magically fixed and fall pregnant 'naturally'.

I think you are super brave for getting back on the roller coaster. I hope everything this time around goes swimmingly, and you get to experience a perfectly normal, non-anxiety inducing pregnancy.


mummydr said...

That was a beautiful post, so much of it I can relate to. I was one of those IF patients that got a surprise 2nd BFP. I still feel kind of guilty. The whole thing about number 2 was so much easier and so much more enjoyable. I did even get the beautiful 2 hour med free labour after a nasty traumatic induced NICU including first. I know how lucky I've been I hope you are too.

Ashley said...

Perfectly written!!!

Paula Keller said...

What a great post! I'm so excited for you, and I hope that this go is much easier. If nothing, but the fact that you've already been through so much and it might kind of be like eh, been there, done that, and survived. You know?

They grow SO incredibly fast. I am often saddened that it took us FOUR years to get pregnant. I would like that time back now dammit, to spend being a mom. As originally planned. Damn infertility.

But then, if we hadn't gone through so much disappointment, the miscarriages, the negatives, the heartache, we wouldn't have our girls. And I wouldn't trade that for anything.

It's a strange perspective.

Lex said...

Beautifully written - thank you.

Jenn @ said...

Beautiful. I, too, am in the same place. My little girl was born in May of 2010 after a long journey. And yet, with 35 looming for me as well, we are thinking of trying again - though most days I don't feel ready. I'm so anxious about going through the whole trying-to-get-pregnant-and-then-worrying-the-whole-9+-months thing - after a miscarriage I don't take anything for granted. I will keep my fingers and toes crossed for you that you have a wonderful, relaxing second pregnancy that you deserve!!

Jamie said...

This is a beautifully written post. When Hubby and I first separated, I have to be honest and say one of my first thoughts was that Skeeter would never have a sibling. And with each rubbermaid container I pack away of too small clothes and old toys, I tear up a little bit.

But did you notice I said "pack away" and not "sell"? Because I still can't count myself out. Maybe it is a mark of trying for so long, I don't know what else to do but hope for another pregnancy. I'm just not ready to think that it will never happen again.

Jamie said...

After I hit 'send' I realized that that whole comment was about me and not really about your post. So sorry!

It is a strange place to be - when the much desired baby arrives, you think to yourself, "He's here! It doesn't matter if I can't have another because I have this one!" But you can't stop the urges.

You have to try . :-)

Grade A said...

So eloquently written. I'm glad to know there are others that feel the way I do about the possible baby #2

Anonymous said...

I agree, this is such a beautifully written post! I feel the same way, and I do not want to wait to start trying again. I hope that #2 happens soon for you and that you have an easier pregnancy this time around.

Roccie said...

This is so well written. I read it long ago, but didnt comment for some reason. I think it knocked me back so much, I didnt know what to say.

I agree with you. I am queen of My New Favorite Stage... but now all of a sudden when I look back, those were pretty fabulous. How can I not remember what it is like to hold her when she was that small?? Where WAS I??

You really are committed to making this happen and that counts for a lot.

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