My husband works at Amazon and one of the things they talk about when making decisions is a concept of one-way versus two-way doors. The metaphor being that you can’t walk back through a one-way door, so you need to be more certain about those types of decisions. To me, becoming a parent feels like a one-way door.
I want kids. I want the experience of being a mother. I want to build family traditions. I want to teach my child and watch them grow and develop. I am almost sure.
I think most people have some amount of apprehension about becoming a parent. What’s different is that with infertility or recurrent miscarriage, you must repeatedly face this uncertainty and weigh the strength of you desire for parenthood against the time, financial, and emotional costs of continuing to try.
For the Fertile-Myrtles, there may be nerves when trying to conceive, but once pregnant it’s a “train out of the station, better get on board” situation. I, on the other hand, returned to that place of nerves again and again, each time wondering whether I wanted kids badly enough to continue to endure the process and pain.
Sometimes I’m nervous to become a mother because of my mental health issues. I’m afraid I won’t be able to be present during bouts of depression or that I’ll pass on my mental challenges to my child. In really dark moments, I wonder if this was the reason the universe caused me to lose my pregnancies in the first place
Other times I worry because my infertility has been part of my identity for so long that I can’t picture life without it. I’ve become accustomed to my grief. After I become a parent, I am not sure where it will go, or how it will change, or how I will honor it, or if I will want to.
And I’m uneasy about how parenthood will change me. My sister has always been incredibly maternal. Her preschool reports talk about how she sang to the baby dolls and fed them pretend meals. In middle and high school, she spent her summers nannying. It’s no surprise she’s a phenomenal mother. But I also see how much her life has changed by having children. She gained so much, but she has lost some of herself as well. I worry about what I’ll lose. I worry that I’ll miss the freedom of this child-free life.
My fears often make me feel ashamed. As if my doubts themselves indicate that I don’t deserve to be a mother. As if because I have worked so hard to become a parent, I’m only allowed to be excited and thank my lucky stars.
But these thoughts are unfair, unkind, and untrue. It is perfectly natural to be nervous about changes in our lives. We can move towards something and still have doubts about it, and that doesn’t have to mean we don’t want it or aren’t ready for it.
I love downhill skiing, but I’m only ok at it. Often when I’m riding up the chair lift, I look at the mountain below me and think, “wow, that looks like an awesome run,” only to arrive at the top, peer over the precipice, and think, “oh my god, I can’t do this.” In these moments, my mental mantra is to tell myself that the only way down is down. Sometimes I fall. There have been times where I’ve gotten in over my head and had to take off my skis and walk a bit. But other times, I handle the scary runs with great ease.
Anticipating parenthood is like riding up the chair lift and peering over that precipice. At the top of the mountain, I have no idea what the run will be like. But rather than assuming my apprehension is an indicator I’m doing something wrong, I can choose to interpret it as an indicator that I’m doing something big. Even if it means I might even have to take off my skis and walk a bit.