Shortly after I got pregnant with Little Man, my Mom asked me if the spontaneous conception helped heal the pain of our infertility and assisted reproductive efforts in the past. It was too early for me to tell at that point, I was still holding my breath for his safe birth. But now that Little Man is 6 months old and our family feels truly complete, I finally feel ready to answer that question.
In a big part yes -- I do look at Little Man and feel grateful that we managed to pull this one off all by ourselves. I feel less broken and deficient, less needy. My body didn't often do as I willed it to, and while it did catch me off guard, what a pleasant surprise to find out that it was following directions after all.... just a little later than planned. I close my eyes and snuggle Little Man super tight and thank God for giving us this unexpected miracle. No more wondering if I would ever get pregnant on my own. I did. We did. Relief and pride.
There will always be scars left over from the trauma of invasive test after test, expensive treatment after treatment. A lot of it blurs in my memory over time, but I can very clearly remember driving to work in the pouring rain, tears streaming down my cheeks after a failed cycle, Patty Griffin crooning in the background, feeling like my heart had been sucked down a black hole. And I remember sitting across from DH at the dinner table, silently berating my body for failing to give my beloved husband the baby that he so desperately wanted too. I won't ever forget those moments, and I don't really want to. On days when life is particularly stressful, when the kids are testing my limits for the umpteenth time, I do recall how terrifying it felt to face the real possibility that I would never become a mother. I do believe it makes me more grateful and patient than I would be otherwise. I am healing every day, but I will never fully be healed, and I don't think that's always such a bad thing.
What I live with now as a fallout of our infertility is the size and age distribution of our family. Obviously I wouldn't give up any of my incredible children, but the original plan was for us to have two kids, not four. I was not raised in a large family and it's an adjustment for me. I have had to shift my expectations and tolerance level. My house growing up was quiet, ordered, and calm. This house is loud, bustling, and vibrant. Not better or worse, just different. And while there's always a chance that I would have decided to have four children even if I had been fertile from the beginning, I certainly would not have had them all within four years. Not good planning, people. It's like the old uterus was useless until it was kick-started, then it wouldn't turn off! It's a lot of work having four so young and dependent, it's beyond exhausting. I think one day it will be nice to have them all in the same age group, but the "three in diapers" thing gets old now and then. I feel like the decision on how and when to build my family was taken from me, and even though I was blessed enough to get my happy ending, it wasn't exactly my vision and sometimes I resent that.
The other remaining issue is "unringing the bell," so to speak. After years and years (and years) spent tracking my fertility signs, I know everything about what my body is doing each cycle. Too much. I can tell you to the HOUR when I ovulate without even having to monitor. I JUST FEEL IT. And despite the assurances by my OB that the tubal ligation was successful, I actually feel quite fertile thanks to the shocking discovery last fall that Little Man was on board. I have to "untrain" myself when it comes to taking note of all my fertility signs, because I was so used to being tightly ruled by their unforgiving hand. How can you simply forget about something that was the number one priority in your life for so long? The craziness of raising four small wildebeests helps distract me, but I definitely have a long way to go.
The damage of infertility is done, for better and for worse. But I am grateful that I was able to experience spontaneous conception, and it does bring me comfort to have my little bonus man.
And now for the pictorial evidence of my healing:
|The Seattle area has a billion of these little drive-thru coffee shacks. Nix pretends his toy cars pull up to one and order a cappuccino or a latte.|
|DH's brother's girlfriend's sister-in-law made this for Little Man. So cute! (The octopus is adorable too.)|
|First sports trophy!|
|Nix and Gax have really become partners in crime. Listening to the two of them converse is so hilarious that it almost makes up for all of the trouble it inevitably produces.|
|My babywearing BFFs and our custom Uppymama wraps. Squeee!|
|DH's first turkey. He grilled it. DELICIOUS! He has a new job every Thanksgiving.|