Parenting after infertility is like finally going on that dream vacation, the one you spent years planning and dreaming about. Bags have been packed and repacked, budgets have been thrown out the window, the itinerary has been changed time and time again, and finally the big moment has arrived. You’re equal parts excited, terrified, and in disbelief. And even though this is a journey you’ve been planning and preparing for, you know there will be bumps along the way – maybe the flight is delayed, maybe your bag gets lost, maybe those Air BnB photos were a bit misleading.
Do you have moments of doubt during those rough patches? Do family and friends feel the need to remind you that, “this is what you wanted’ when you need someone to vent to after a long day? Do you keep your frustrations and worries to yourself, because you feel like you haven’t earned the right to have those feelings? No, you’re human and even the most intrepid travelers on the adventure of a lifetime have moments of doubt and frustration, and need support along the way.
Parenting is a physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting journey. Every sleepless night with a cranky newborn, every public tantrum with a toddler, every “but all my friends get to” argument is a challenge. And it is normal and healthy to acknowledge that those are tough moments, to not push every feeling of annoyance to the side — because this adventure “is what you wanted.” So now you should force yourself to enjoy every single second of it, right?
Are you overwhelmingly grateful to be taking this trip? Do tears spring to your eyes the first time your child calls you “Mama” because you honestly weren’t sure you’d ever hear that word spoken to you? Do you proudly share the joy in a loose tooth, the heartbreak of a friend being put in a different elementary school class, the peace of snuggling up to read a chapter book before bedtime? Absolutely! But just because you cherish those scrapbook-worthy moments, doesn’t mean you have to look at the whole experience through rose-colored glasses. Regardless of how your family is built and how badly you wanted to be exactly where you are right now, you’re still a human being who doesn’t love being sleep-deprived and covered in spit up, who doesn’t enjoy sitting defeated at the bottom of the stairs listening to your little person rage about how life isn’t fair from their room. And the expectation, from yourself or others, that you’re somehow not allowed to feel less than grateful every moment of every day is unrealistic.
So whether half of your beach days get rained out, or you spend two weeks with everyone in your house sick with a stomach bug, it is alright to acknowledge and name whatever negative feelings you’re having. That doesn’t mean that you don’t appreciate where you are; that doesn’t mean someone can tell you that “you don’t have a right to complain”; that just means you’re a human being with complex emotions trying to navigate a challenging adventure. And that’s exactly what you’re supposed to be.