Each morning I awake - well rested, sun shining - to the sound of birds chirping merrily in the flowering tree outside my window. I tiptoe into my darling son's room to find him laying quietly, bright-eyed in his crib. I greet him hello in a sing-song voice and he grins that sloppy grin that eats through my heart, right into my soul. Together we sit in the glider as he eats breakfast, pausing in his sucking occassionally to smile up at me from my breast as I sing sweet lullabies to him. Before long my husband comes in quietly, bearing a cup of herbal tea and hot buttered toast so that I too can have breakfast before starting my day. He gazes down at the glowing face of his son, greets him with a "hello sport!" and puts his arm around me, proud of me. We kiss softly over our child, the baby we made together, and know that this is what we've been waiting for. Exactly this.
Or maybe not so much.
I never idealized family life in the way that I think some infertiles (and plenty of fertiles) do. I knew that baby-raisin' would involve a lot of bodily fluids, not a lot of sleep and a fair amount of crying, on everyone's part. I actually worried quite regularly through my pregnancy that I would birth this baby and find that I hated motherhood. I hated babysitting (oh, the crying!) so why would parenting be any different? While I was (and am) irritated by smug mothers making smug comments like "sleep now - you'll never sleep again!", if a mom shared with me the honest difficulties of raising her child I would listen with empathy rather than moral outrage. "Well at least you have a baby!" was rarely my response to a mom being realistic about the stress of her profession.
But I understand that not everyone feels that way. I don't blame you if after your third failed IVF (or first failed Clomid cycle) you have little patience for someone on the other side complaining about the hardships of motherhood. We are all in our own places, dealing in our own ways, and if irritation at a complaining new mom is how you cope, I hope it helps you cope well. Staying sane in the face of infertility is a daily battle. Trust me, I know.
And so I feel like I must warn you that to those of you fighting those fights this blog might not seem like a friendly place anymore. Because I have to tell you - being a mom is HARD. No. Really. Like, harder than you could ever imagine considering the job duties of a mother of a newborn basically include feed baby, change baby, stop baby from putting poison in mouth, repeat. Oprah isn't bullshitting when she says "it's the hardest job there is" (although how does she know???). And if I've ever needed a place to vent and cry and whine, this is the time. I don't want to alienate anyone (anyone who is still here after an unforgiveable 6 month blog sabbatical) and I truly feel for every one of you still fighting the hard fight. But let me tell you, caring for a screaming, hysterical, dare I say colicky newborn is a fight too. I would absolutely rather have my hands full than empty, and even when that little lobster baby (bright red from the endless crying) is shouting in my face, seeming to tell me how much he hates me, I am grateful for the opportunity to raise him. But seriously. He is LOUD. Dude.
So for those of you who may continue reading (if I do, in fact, continue writing) please know that you aren't likely to ever see anything like that first paragraph here again. First off because to "awake in the morning" implies that one slept the night before. And to greet my son in his crib would mean that he's slept there, even once, for even a moment. (Although I did greet him there yesterday after I had to put him in it, leave the room and close the door to escape his sobs and hopefully get a grip on my own. But he wasn't smiling when I returned a few minutes (and a hysterical phone call to my husband) later. Not exactly. Spewing obscenities more profane than any profanity I or the entire US Navy have uttered is more accurate.) And the smiles that melt my heart and soul? Maybe someday, but so far we're still in the accidental gas smile stage. Although occassionally I will glimpse a grin while he sleeps, presumably because he is dreaming a sweet dream of murdering me. (Because how could somebody possibly shout like that all.the.time at someone they didn't despise to the core of their being?)
Being a parent is nothing like babysitting (which, have I mentioned I hated?). There is no one to rescue you at the end of the night. As a matter of fact, the night is when things get really interesting. When the baby sleeps (if the baby sleeps) you aren't able to invite your boyfriend over for a makeout session. No, that's when you frantically try to brush your teeth (and on a good day your hair too!) before the screaming starts again. And you don't get paid - not even a meager $2 an hour. It's exhausting. It's endless. It's nothing like babysitting at all.
It's a million, squillion, gillion times better.
Even with a reflux baby, a baby who constantly vomits your milk back at you in a mucousy mess and is hungry again moments later, even then there is the love. Instead of being annoyed by the incessant screaming (which you wish more than anything would end), you're tortured by it. Wondering what you could possibly do to make this poor, helpless creature feel better; what you could do to make him realize that being alive isn't really that awful. You ache because he aches. And as painful as that sounds, it's also beautiful. Having not just an obligation but a deep desire to set yourself aside for the one you love. And there are moments - even with a baby who makes Morrissey look chipper - when your heart melts at the beauty of your baby. When he opens his eyes so wide, as if to tell you "yes, mommy - I will never sleep again!" you can't help but adore his little chihuahua face. When you kiss his little lips and he opens his mouth in reflex you can't help but glow, deluding yourself that he is kissing you back. And when your husband tries to calm him by sitting in the glider, rocking slowly and singing him off-key Beatles songs instead of nursery rhymes you remember why you fought so hard in the first place.
So let me tell you (and not in a smug, obnoxious way): Parenthood is hard. It's blindingly terrifying and sometimes soul crushing. Parenthood is hard and it is LOUD. But it is worth it. It's so worth it.