/ The RE's Muse: Trying to find me

The RE's Muse

After 4 years of infertility, 2 surgeries, 1 miscarriage, and 19 months of high risk pregnancies, hubby and I now have two little women in our lives--one a toddler, the other not far behind. Buckle your seatbelts, it's gonna be a wild ride.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Trying to find me

We can be honest here. And being honest here means that I have to tell you that I'm having a bit of a rough time. Physically, I'm feeling almost 100%. Mentally and emotionally, not so much.

No, it's not the new baby, nor is it balancing home life with a newborn and a toddler (though, by gosh, no brainer, it's not easy). It's just...I'm not sure who I am these days.

That probably sounds weird but think about it, I've spent the last 6 years embroiled in the quest to grow our family (aka TTC). Now that we've got two lovely girls in our lives, I'm just not sure where I go from here. It's hard to get rid of the TTC mindset--after all, it's been a huge part of who I am for so long now--and find/embrace a new mindset, that as mom, and to two at that. It's like a chapter of my life, the reproductive years, is now over and I'm not sure what to make of that, how to process it.

Add to that the fact that my experience with the NICU and those first 12 days was so completely overwhelming and something I never in a million years expected to happen, and I'm really struggling. I feel like I was robbed of the 'typical' postpartum/birth/early days experience and really, how do I change that or accept it?

I can't even look at the pictures from Daniela's first hours after birth, it hurts too much. I see them and I wonder if she was in pain and I feel like a failure for not knowing that something was wrong underneath her 'surface.' They remind me how helpless I felt and how helpless I was. I can barely look at the photos from the NICU, at least not from her first few days there on the vent and whatnot.

I'm not ungrateful for what I've got, not in the least. I know how incredibly lucky A and I are to have what we do, to be where we are, and that things could have been much much worse (really, I can't even contemplate that thought) but still I struggle to accept what has happened to us this time...why it had to happen to us and what it means for me.

Who am I and where do I go from here?


At 12:35 PM, Blogger Mae Midwest said...

I went through the exact same thing a few weeks ago. Packing the maternity clothes for resale, booking the husband's snip snip appointment, and realizing it's over. No more trips to the RE's office. No more OB appointments. No more stays in the maternity ward. Wow, it's really done.

I had to mourn that loss. It was a huge part of my life for 7 years. It's hard to move on to something else. That's all I knew for many years of my adult life! Now what do I do?

I had to mourn the loss and move on. Time to look ahead to a new life of raising my girls. Soon you will be deciding on schools and shuttling back and forth there and classes and all the fun stuff that comes with an older child.

I also had problems leaving the NICU experience behind. I actually missed going there! Isn't that crazy?? I will say that those thoughts of seeing the newborn pics and the guilt and the trauma does fade. It never goes away completely, but it gets easier to handle.

I just printed Av's NICU pics and am planning to scrapbook them next weekend. That might help. Sometimes the best therapy is to make a memory book and just get it on paper and then close the book and come back when you feel better.

At 1:46 PM, Blogger Klynn said...

It does take time. I suppose that it is sort of mourning a loss. But maybe you can look on it as more of a graduation. Like moving from high school on to college. I'm still saddened by the fact that I will have no more children (I'm the one who's gotten my tubes tied). I still feel a kind of loss, in that.

But, life goes on, and kids grow and need you, and you'll get swept up in the demands of life. You just need to take some time to redefine yourself.

I was angry for the longest time after my daughter arrived. I argued that she was not born, she was ripped from my body (emergency c-section). I felt deprived of a normal birth process. (When in fact we were very lucky to both be alive.)

When my son developed a gastro-intestinal infection in the NICU, I cried horribly when they wouldn't let me hold him, that day when I went in for his visit. No one knows where the infection came from...it just happened. (Though they really cracked down on handwashing for visitiors and nurses in the NICU after that).

Try not to beat yourself up over not knowing something was wrong. We might have mother's intuition, but we certainly don't have a built in CT scanner. Even suspecting there might have been pain involved is tough. Watching the heel sticks and I.V. placements is torture. But when I look at pictures of my little guy in the NICU, I see how far he's come. Yeah, he looks so pitiful and tiny in the pictures, but it makes me so grateful that he's healthy now.

You ARE and ARE GOING TO BE one awesome mommy. Now, aren't there diapers to be changed? :-)

At 2:46 PM, Blogger WriterGrrl said...

Dee, one of the wisest things I learned after D's stay in the NICU was that just because he was home didn't mean I should expect to be all better. A friend of ours told me, "Expect it to take at least a year for you to heal," and that is more or less right. He said that for him, it was one day about a year later that he looked around and said, "Huh. I'm better now. This is what happy feels like." I sort of had that, but then we got the whammy of the dx, which kind of threw me for a loop.

I completely understand the feeling of being robbed of the joy of the birth. In all honesty, I have Baby J. because I couldn't stand the thought of the NICU being my final birth experience.

Healing takes a long time. Do not expect it to happen quickly. And do not be afraid to ask for help in the form of wine or Zoloft (or, you know, a little cocktail of the two).

At 2:53 PM, Blogger Heather said...

Oh my, where to start? Better prepare yourself for a novel. First off, let me tell you, I hear you 150% on being deprived of the typical birth/brand new baby experience. There was nothing about P & E's arrival or their first several weeks that even remotely approached "normal." Months afterward, when I visited a friend in the hospital with her newborn daughter, I felt really sad. There she was, holding her healthy baby girl in her arms in her room, surrounded by flowers and balloons and family members. P & E's arrival was so sudden, and so early, that nobody had time to stop for flowers on the way to the hospital, and even if they had, I think everyone wondered how appropriate it would be to really "celebrate" the arrival of two babies born so early, so small, so sickly. At the hospital, they had to choose between being with me in my hospital room and being with the babies and G down in the NICU. It was horrible.

Seeing their NICU pictures is still heartbreaking, even now, almost two years later. I don't look at them often. But when I do, sad as I feel, I also feel overcome with joy and wonder at how big and strong and, you know, just plain normal they are now. It wasn't an easy journey for them, but they made it, and they're perfect. There is no prouder mommy than me; I know that if they can overcome that kind of beginning, there's nothing this life will throw at them that they won't be able to handle.

The difficulties of my pregnancy with them and their birth have made it nearly impossible for me to enjoy the current pregnancy though it has been almost textbook so far. (Knock on wood -- I'm still terrified of jinxing something). I hope to carry to full term, and I hope to have a positively yawn-inducing delivery, but who knows what will happen? Maybe that would help heal the old wounds, maybe it wouldn't. Either way, I know this baby is it for me. I know what you mean about it being weird to have finally finished ttc and pregnancy once and for all, but for me, it will be weird in a very good way. I started down that road so I could be a mom, and the road turned out be be one which was very long and sucked very much ass. Finally, come June, I will be able to enjoy the fruits of my labor (no pun intended!) without having to worry about when or if I'll have to do it all again. I'll be able to enjoy being a mom, with the family I always dreamed of, and I'll be able to pat myself on the back for making it through all the crap along the way.

So, I don't know. Maybe it's all just a matter of time and perspective. You've made it to the finish line -- which is really just another starting line. You may be feeling a bit lost right now, but I suspect that with all that raising two beautiful girls will entail, that feeling won't last for long.

At 4:57 PM, Anonymous Jen said...

You know, it sounds to me like in addition to these perfectly valid feelings, you are probably also in the midst of the newborn hormone crash/sleep deprivation period, where you are so far from normal that it's hard to even remember what it looked like.

Hopefully, time will provide some healing and help.

At 10:17 AM, Blogger Chebbles' Mama said...

Hey Dee -- I understand what you're saying about this becoming an all-consuming process. We're still in the midst of it, and falling ever-deeper into the process of accumulating children, that I'm pretty sure I've become the world's most boring person to anyone who doesn't want to talk about our uteruses (uteri?).
This feels like getting my graduate degree -- the same long grind, and the desire to have it over with, with occasional moments of excitement and bad drama along the way. So while I yearn for that day when our last child is born (hopefully I'm talking about a day in the future here), I also dread it. What will I do with all of this knowledge and time?
I bet mothering those two imps will probably be your next big challenge -- especially once D starts in on J's toys?

At 10:36 AM, Blogger lagiulia said...

I hear you on pretty much all fronts. This hits very close to home. Big, giant bear hugs to you during this hard time. If you want to talk, let me know.

At 2:43 PM, Anonymous Frances said...

It took me about a year before I could think about Smacky's birth experience and the NICU without at least tearing up (more often than not I approached full-on sob). I still get emotional when I think about it and often cry, and we're 20 months out. Give yourself time, and let the feelings come out. As you see Daniela grow and thrive, it will get easier...that much I promise.
As for leaving behind the TTC mentality, I keep thinking of that myself, and have been falling back on some wise words from a best friend - she suggested to me that my mission of having kids would be over - now my new mission was to raise them the best I can. For some reason that simple logic has been helpful for me. But I don't know - I believe infertility molds you into a new person, and it takes time to learn to live again. I think if you give yourself that time, you'll soon find peace and clarity and comfort in the new Dee.

At 12:15 PM, Blogger Housewife said...

Ooh. You're so smart to blog it and get it out.

Adam and Eve are 3 years apart and Adam and I spent a week in the NICU when he was 3 weeks old. It was awful leaving Eve and I didn't know what to do or where else I could have been.

I also remember holding my son and being very afraid to love him because I was so scared to lose him. I felt like a failure too. I was very protective of him but that was an instinct and the bonding was at it's deepest and most permanent after we left the hospital.

It took me many years before I could admit that I was afraid to love my son but I told it to another mother who needed to know so she wouldn't feel alone.

In a few months your hormones will even out and you'll have sex for fun, you can't imagine how liberating it will be.

At 1:41 PM, Blogger The Town Criers said...

Those are hard questions. And I don't think it's as easy as switching paths in one day. I think it will be something you'll slip into a bit at a time. And maybe you'll have a few things that you'll try out as your new passion--the new focus that replaces TTC. Because it's not just mommying. You need something for you that will fill up the nap time. Or the evening hours. That you can make your own.

I think for some of these things--like looking at NICU pictures--only became easier over time. Even now, it's not "easy" per se, but it's easier. Hang in there.


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