Bereaved Parenting Still Has Challenges
When you’re expecting a child, either one in the womb or through adoption, people love to tell you the same thing, over and over: the days are long but the years are short. If you do conceive or adopt, and your child is here, that saying can become a constant refrain going through your head. Nights where no one has slept for more than 15 minutes, endless piles of laundry, not bonding like you thought you would, PPD, illness, and just the absolute exhaustion that comes from being a new parent can make you feel like the days aren’t going quite as quickly as you’d like. Yes, you wished for this child, but bereaved parenting still has challenges.
“If they can JUST sleep through the night/start crawling/eat a vegetable/get potty trained, etc., then it’ll get easier.” But then that stage comes, and it doesn’t.
For me, I felt like I could never openly complain about the hard times of raising a child. I had wanted a baby for sooooo long, and we had been through so much that I felt like because I had begged for this experience that I wasn’t allowed to be overwhelmed.
But oh boy, was I ever.
I had a kid who didn’t want to breastfeed after it was something I had hoped for, she didn’t take naps longer than 20 minutes…except at Grandma’s house where she would be sawing logs for hours at a time. She didn’t sleep through the night until she was 4.5…YEARS! I was exhausted, stressed, tapped out. My husband was equally so. But when I was talking to a friend about it, all she said was “You asked for this, remember?” I did. Prayed long and hard. So, I wasn’t allowed to think that this was the most challenging thing I’d ever done?
Having spoken with other friends who had won the infertility lottery and were now in the throes of baby-raising, many of them echoed the same feeling of having our difficulties dismissed because it was something we had ‘asked for’. Just because our children were so very, very wanted doesn’t make them any easier to parent! These are still babies! And your infant can sleep through the night immediately, never cry, eat like a trooper and you would STILL feel overwhelmed and exhausted with this massive life change.
If you are in the middle of those crazy first months and feeling like you can’t complain, you CAN. Rant away. Just because you longed to be a parent doesn’t mean that it will be natural, and parenting after infertility can come with its own set of issues as well. It’s allowed to be hard, and stressful, and feel horrific at 2:45 in the morning when all you want to do is sleep for a week. While you are in that season, it does feel never-ending and having those that dismiss your concerns just because you ‘wanted it’ does a colossal disservice to new moms.
So Mama (or Daddy), if you’re reading this in a quiet few minutes in between diaper changes and feedings, or if your little one just shoved peanuts up their nose and you’re in a waiting room somewhere, I want to tell you that you won’t always be this tired. Sleep will come in spades one day, and sooner than we’d sometimes like when we look back on what has been. But right now, it’s allowed to feel huge, and overwhelming, and hard. Even though you longed for this, it doesn’t mean that it’s not difficult, and just like any other parent, you are allowed to say so.
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash