Worth the Cost?

January 24, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Posted in Infertility, motherhood, Mythical #2 | 7 Comments

Julie at A Little Pregnant got me thinking on this last week, when she posted her answer to the following question. And Mel put up this post this weekend about it, too.

Is it worth all the shit when you finally have a baby?

Here and there, when I have moments of silence, I’ve been rolling this idea on my tongue, trying to find the feelings that resonate with me.

I think if you had asked me this when O was a few weeks old, I would have answered, probably in a shaky voice, no, I’m not so sure it was. Because I distinctly remember that mostly I was overwhelmed with fear and responsibility and sleep deprivation and all of the NOT KNOWING. The well of emotional and physical energy I needed at that point to be a mom scared me. My reserves of all of that were nearly non-existent.

Because the best (well, really the ONLY) coping mechanism I had to get through my pregnancy was, well, denial. I never really believed I’d bring home a baby until he was here and in my arms.

And then I was taken by how UNPREPARED I was to parent a newborn.

So it’s no wonder, then, that I didn’t have any sort of emotional preparation for being a mom.

And I recall thinking how selfish and WRONG that seemed. Because for YEARS all I wanted was a baby. A live baby, sleeping in my arms. And for so long I had doubted that it would ever happen for us.

Clearly that’s changed.

Because you all can probably tell that right now, my answer to whether or not it was worth the cost would be a huge, resounding YES. Once I accepted the identity of mom into myself (and by this I mean REALLY accepted it as part of who I am, not just the external label of “mom”), things got easier, and I became much more comfortable with trusting my instincts. And O is growing, and thriving, and really digs J and I.

So really. It’s EASY for us to say that it was all worth it. We spent $35,000 of INSURANCE MONEY to bring him home. The only burden we bore during those three years was the emotional cost. Which, yes, I admit. It was REALLY rough at the time. It required a LOT of managing and introspection and discussion and coping. It took up a LOT of space in our life together and was one of the biggest marital issues J and I dealt with thus far.

But. Almost two years after his birth, that emotional cost has ebbed away. I have a hard time putting myself back into that fear, into that coping. It’s tatters, remnants of our history. And when people ask me how we dealt with it, all I can say is “it was hard.” Because it was. It was really hard. But that hard is BEHIND us.

And we have O now. And every day I wake up grateful for him. And I love him more than I’ve ever loved any being, any person, any SOUL in this world. And during the whole process we worked hard to make sure that we remained focused on the idea that we wanted to be PARENTS. Together.

So yes, for us, it as worth it. Not simply because we have O, though. But because J and I came through that dark into the light together. And we didn’t put ourselves into foreclosure to afford the treatments which brough him to us. We didn’t have to make the hard decisions that so many people need to. We just had to manage the emotional cost.

Now see. With a potential number two? We’re in the same place. We’ll have to manage the emotional cost of the treatments. Given the level of distaste I feel when I think about even going back into my RE’s office again, there WILL be management required.

But this time, it’s not just the emotional cost on J and I, and our marriage. This affects O, too. And now that I know how much I need in reserve for being a parent to a newborn, this time I HAVE to closely manage the emotional cost. Not just for me. Not just for J. Not just for a new baby. But for my sweet, sensitive O, too.

And see, THIS time, it’s not about beating infertility. THIS time, it’s about family-building. Even as much as I tried to resolve our primary infertility about being focused on being a parent… there was an element of wanting to beat the fuck out of IF itself. There was ROMANCE in putting myself through the wringer so that I might end up as a mom.

And see? I viewed birthing a live baby while we were trying as the END of a journey.

And it wasn’t, not at ALL.

It was the BEGINNING.

And so that’s why I am unwilling to sacrifice ANY of myself this time around. I will not let secondary IF suck the happiness from my family. And if that means that our family is comprised of just us three? Fine.

And that’s my CHOICE. Being happy, fulfilled, a good parent, a strong woman. Over depleting my emotional reserves on something which may or may not happen. Just as I had no control over whether or not we got pregnant in the first place, I have no control over whether or not it might happen again.

So instead, I’ll focus on the things I CAN control.

So yes. For me, whatever happens, will be worth the cost. Because I’ve exercised my choice and made decisions for which I am happy. And that, in itself, is right for me.

For all of us.



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  1. I just came to a similar decision myself. One treatment cycle for #2- and we’re done for right now. It just seems so wrong to destroy what contentment we have now to create only an incremental amount of it in the far future.

  2. Good post. I think I, too, viewed the birth as the end of the journey.

    I’ll consider posting my own answer to the question, too.

  3. I loved this post. You went for the guts, so to speak, of the issue. And what you feel about SI–that was exactly how I felt towards the end of our long journey to give Michael a sibling (before we finally started fertility treatments).

  4. You explained it perfectly, because when I think about adding #2, I think I’ll have to think about it a LOT, because I don’t want it to affect D. I know the husband and I can get through it, but I don’t want D to suffer collateral damage.

  5. beautiful post , thanks for being so honest…as always. 🙂

  6. Good post. It actually echoes a lot of my feelings (which I finally got around to putting up as a post). I will add, though, that with #2, I am hopeful of having more control over the emotional cost. I think the first year of treatments was the hardest, but I learned a lot about coping with it which I was able to put into practice as treatments wore on. I’m hoping that’s still with us for next time – although no doubt I will have to practice it up again.


  7. You raise an incredibly good point – that this time around it’s not about beating infertility, but about family building. I’m now pregnant again, having had triplets as a result of my sixth IUI in 2007, and subsequently having five IVF cycles which resulted in this current pregnancy. And it *was* different getting here. In some ways it was easier: I knew what to expect, I knew how to work my RE visits in with work and family commitments, I knew that I could kiss any other sort of planning out the window for a while. I desperately wanted this baby, but I also knew if we failed – we still have a beautiful family, which is more than I ever expected to be able to say.

    I didn’t need to beat infertility this time (though it turned out I was far less fertile now than I was before – faced with diminished ovarian reserve, crapola embryos, etc.), but that didn’t change how much I wanted to continue family building without my stupid body dictating that we were done. I needed to know that we’d done everything we could in order to achieve our goal – but heartbreaking as it would have been to fail this time around, I knew that I was willing to live with that possibility. I’m not sure I knew that the first time around.

    You are also right on the money in that birthing a live baby is not the end of a journey – it’s the beginning of the most signficant and meaningful journey we’ll ever have. Sometimes I think we all need reminding of that. And it certainly changes the scope of the question “is it worth it” in a way that makes it far easier to answer.

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