Sometimes I wish I could create this pact with all of my new mom friends. Maybe you had kids easily and can’t relate at all. Please read on so that you do, because I often feel like no one understands.
As a first-time mom who went through over seven years of infertility including, but not limited to, many miscarriages and over a dozen IVF retrievals, I felt beyond blessed to conceive my one child. Yet, I never quite felt like I fit in as a pregnant woman. In fact, I tried to hide my pregnancy as I walked the streets for all nine months because I felt like a traitor to my infertility sisters. I worried about all of the women who would see my round belly and feel the heart-crushing jealousy of wanting their own babies. I feared I would always feel this way and never be able to trade in my identity as an “infertile” for my new identity as a mom.
Thankfully, when baby arrived my nights that were once full of acupuncture appointments and timed injections were quickly replaced with baby snuggles, nursey rhymes, bedtime stories and bubble baths. I mentally promoted myself to my new role as mom, but kept my infertility struggles close to my heart as they made me the best mother I could possibly have been.
The first time I pushed my baby down the street in a stroller was like the first time an engaged woman shows off her shiny new ring. Not only did I have a gorgeous baby, but it represented so much more. I felt worthy after years of shame, insecurity and self-doubt. I was a mom and ready to finally make mom friends.
I joined a new moms group and looked forward to a new level of companionship with these women I had once envied. I could just see it: chatting about motherhood over a cup of coffee at the park or standing in the grocery line trying to calm our babies so we could make it through check-out without a meltdown.
I was surprised when my visions didn’t play out and I initially struggled to connect with moms the first few weeks. Many were constantly complaining about sleep deprivation, loss of independence and baby weight. I could not relate. Yes, I was waking up at 4 a.m. to feed but I would take that any day of the week over waking up at 5 a.dm. to go to fertility clinic monitoring hours. Yes, I had some extra baby weight, but my amazing body had just grown a gorgeous and health baby. Would I ever be able to relate?
Then around five months, it all clicked. I had a huge group of women that I got together with regularly. We did all the “new mom” things I could have ever wanted to do. Coffee shop chats, park walks, playground dates, baby music classes, mornings sitting in one another’s living rooms watching our children develop and cherishing each milestone. We bonded over how long to nurse, what foods to introduce, and whether to sleep train. We supported one another through our babies’ issues with vision, diabetes, slow weight gain and colic. We shared recommendations on everything from strollers to doctors. Best friendships grew.
Then it happened. One got pregnant. Then another. Then another. By the time our kids we 18 months old, all but two of my new friends were pregnant. My feelings of insecurity crept back in. I had never told anyone how much I went through to have this baby. I had never told anyone that we started doing IVF again when my baby was under a year old because of our difficulties in having our first.
It seemed that as each of my cycles failed, another pregnancy was announced and I would put on a huge smile and give the biggest hug that I could, while trying to remember to breathe through the pain I was feeling until I could get home and cry.
My friends began to disappear with the “hardships” of a second pregnancy and second child. First the play dates got postponed due to the infant’s sleep schedule and nursing. Then the attempts to get together dwindled and within months apartments were sold and moves to the burbs were announced. And now, here I am. Here. At the park with my daughter after a morning at the fertility clinic. Waiting and hoping for another child. Tethered to this city were the best infertility clinics are located. I am happy for my friends, but wish I could grow our family alongside them.
Now, when I see a mom pushing a single stroller with a child around my child’s age, I often look to see if she has a kickboard under her stroller for a second older child to ride or a second baby in a carrier. Is she pregnant with a second? No. OK, if she has just one maybe we can be friends. Hi, I’ll be your friend if you don’t have another child.
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