When parenting pressure possibly prevents pregnancy.

Hey there! Long time, no speak. I don’t have a reason for it, other than I guess time flew before I felt the need to rant/unload/share anything. The basic truth is I was feeling rather good, and rather positive despite this being cycle 24. That was until 6 days ago, when I had an almighty emotional crash for some random reason that I couldn’t even figure out for a day or two. Hence, my logging in to my blog to rant/unload/share.

So, back up … Last time I blogged, I wrote about figuring out how anxiety is impacting my life and that I had decided to speak to someone. Fast forward to now, and I have had 3 lovely appointments with an extremely kind and warm lady. I instantly felt the difference after walking out of my first appointment. It was liberating. I have never had any sort of counselling before, but I happily blabbed away to my heart’s content. I came away feeling so much lighter and so much more positive.

Last week though, I felt my positivity came crashing down and I was left with tears, anger and frustration and I couldn’t see which way was up. It was so confusing. I even felt angry and about feeling angry. I was frustrated I had tripped up, emotionally speaking. But our paths are rocky, eh? No path is smooth in life. And this path I am on, finding my way back to emotional paradise, where downs are only dips, recovery from a minor stressful moment is instant and every day holds mostly happy thoughts, self-worth, fulfilment and laughter; it is a little rocky. I am lucky though. Most of my days contain happy thoughts a plenty, laughter and dips rather than downs if there are any. Many people have much darker times than me, I know that. Sometimes, I feel like I go for a little visit to see those people though. I feel the turmoil, the self-doubt, the negative self-talk. I see how dark it can be. I hear the screams of panic, cries for help and pleas for the pain to go away. I am lucky. Those times are fleeting for me. I probably get dragged there by my hormones if I’m honest. I visited this weekend just gone, but only for a short while. I’m back in my world now, and it is a sunny day.

Being back here gives me a chance to assess what I saw, felt and heard. It gives me a brief chance to talk to my subconscious about what is going on. This weekend I discovered that I’m angry about how our society parents in the western world (I’m talking a general thing here). I also discovered that I question my strength to bring another child into a world where parenting is in such crisis, putting them in potential situations that I’m not comfortable with. What am I going on about I hear you ask? Let me elaborate …

Personally, I feel that as a parenting society too many of us over protect our children and are judgemental of others. As a parenting society we are so afraid of hurting our children’s feelings, we can’t see through it to make good decisions for our offspring. As a parenting society, we act for our children before teaching them the tools to act for themselves. As a parenting society, in being so desperate to do the perfect job we are actually sending our children the wrong messages.

I put myself in the group of parent in crisis. I am desperate to do the best job, and ensure my child is not hurt in any manner. I put an immense amount of pressure on myself. But do you see how I am setting myself up for failure? I cannot do the best parenting job ever, because I am human. I make mistakes. There will be times I make the wrong decision. There will be times I lose my patience. But I also love my child more than life itself. I provide her with healthy food, clean clothes and motivating toys and activities. I try to teach her how to be a good friend, how to use manners and right from wrong. I try to teach her about the world, differences, similarities, how to be healthy and letters and numbers. I do the best I can do with all that I have. Surely, I am a good parent because of these things?

A friend of mine had something happen to her daughter at school with another child. She was unhappy, to say the least. Apparently, the other child was totally in the wrong, and the situation was dealt with at school. No child was hurt physically, and it was a ‘normal’ schoolyard one off clash as far as I could tell. However, my friend was in total anguish about the whole thing! She felt angry towards the other child. She felt angry towards the school for letting it happen. She felt guilty about sending her child to this school (they had recently moved there). She worried it would stop her daughter settling in and being happy. She entertained pulling her out! Stop. Stop. Stop. Surely this story should have stopped at, ‘the situation was dealt with at school.’ Perhaps rather than my lovely friend feeling so terrible about the whole thing, she should have stepped back, realised that in the path to being a fully developed social being children make mistakes! They do silly things that hurt feelings and occasionally body parts. Some children do things because they are hurting so bad inside. Perhaps rather than letting her child see the guilt and anger she had, she could have taught her how to be compassionate and loving. She could teach her how to be resilient and get back in that classroom with her head held high. She could have used the school community as a resource to help her child develop. She could have turned into something so wonderful, but instead chose to give her child a different message. In my eyes, the wrong one.

OH PARENTS OF THE WORLD HEAR ME! Putting your child first does not always mean instant gratification and even instant happiness for them. We must stop pressuring ourselves to be the ones who make our child happy 100% of the time. Our job is to teach them HOW to be a good, happy person in the world, who knows how to overcome obstacles when they arise. And they will. Just look at me and you!

So, how does this all come back to me and my blog about Secondary Unexplained Infertility? Well, I’m thinking I’ve (and by I’ve I mean my subconscious) been doubting my parenting approach at times, as it sometimes goes against the grain and in some small and bizarre way I feel a little guilty that I have brought Little One into a world that expects her to be bloody darn perfect despite her being so small. However, it is funny this is a thing for me, as Little One has many wonderful traits and we actually get lots of positive comments about her. She isn’t always perfect though. Yesterday she shouted at me because I had distracted her (it wasn’t on purpose!) and spoiled her playdough creation. I could make an excuse and defend her actions, like so many Mums do, but I’m not going to. Because she is not always perfect and that is OK. And that finally leads me to trying for Baby number 2 … Can I bring another imperfectly perfect little being into the world, to face criticism, judgement and labelling? Do I have the strength to just love my children for who they are, and ignore any whispers about their flaws? Do I have enough belief in the fact that my husband and I love them enough that nobody else needs to?

I think I can answer yes to these questions, because I am pretty sure it is fear who is asking them.

So, I count down to the end of cycle 24 … Bloated. Check; perhaps more so than normal, but hey perhaps I’m just kidding myself. Emotional and irritable . Check; and extremely so around 6dpo and 7 dpo. Swollen breasts. Check, well a little. I hope this is the one.

One slice or two?

Parenting a child is a wonderful experience, and parenting one child has many positives. For some these reasons are compelling enough for a growing number of couples to choose to have one child only. I even found a book about it in the library! It was called ‘The case for having an only child’ or something similar. I couldn’t help but feel the title had a sense of the author needing to convince readers it was a good thing though. Maybe because general public opinion seems to lean towards a belief that giving a child a sibling is the right thing to do?

Having one child means you can focus as much time and energy as you want on them, without siblings also demanding something from you. I watched a young mum struggle with three very young children in a car park today. Seriously, how does anyone cope with 3 children who all appeared to be under 4? It was chaos! Mostly because she was also talking on her phone, but hey, it may have been a crucial conversation so we won’t go there. They all got out of the car and went in different directions, and she unsuccessfully tried to herd them all into the same spot, whilst holding the phone to ear with her shoulder. I realised how civilised it is bringing up my only child in comparison. Hats off to you car park lady, you must be so tired! And thank you for giving me a small and rare moment where I appreciated having the ease of one and felt like the lucky one. I should clarify here (because I have SI guilt) that I feel lucky every waking moment for the gift of my daughter, I just feel unlucky that I haven’t been able to have another. I think of them as separate lucky dips. I struck gold in the first pot, I’ve come out empty handed from the second.

Financially, having one child leaves you a bit better off, and gives parents a greater ability to finance a child’s interests and education. And perhaps a bit more selfishly, one child families will be able to afford a few nice holidays. But is this what is important to that only child? Sure, we would all give our children everything if we could, but even if we could afford to give them everything, should we? In this modern world, many mums have to work to make ends meat, not just to give their child the best education. Many have careers that are very important to them, and feel another child would mean time off work which they can’t afford financially or for the future of their career. We are in a new era where mums have to balance family with work, and for some, having one child balances their maternal instinct with their feelings of identity and value as a person through a career. A friend of mine opted to stick with one child as she didn’t feel she wanted to take more time out of her career. For me, career wasn’t as important as being a Mum, but the irony is we can afford for me to be at home raising the kids indefinitely, but we just don’t have the number of children necessary to keep me at home much longer!

The stresses of parenting are apparently leading to a rising number of one child families. Parents are feeling under pressure to be perfect parents, and there is an argument suggesting some couples stop at one because they feel they can do a better job focusing on their only child. Woah! That is a controversial suggestion. Personally, I understand the pressure a parent puts on themselves to do a perfect job, but I know many AMAZING mums (and dads) who do a pretty awesome job with more than one child. And if I’m anything to go by, having one definitely does not protect you from the pressure of being a good parent. I think I would put that pressure on myself no matter how many children I had, although I’ve been told you relax much more with the second child. Really, I wouldn’t know (said through gritted teeth). In a ridiculous way, I feel sometimes it puts more pressure on me having one, as I only have one chance (at the moment) to get this right! I’m going to let you in on a secret here. I nearly didn’t because it’s crazy, but this is a place for me to explore my thoughts so here goes … I’m frightened beyond belief of anything bad happening to Little One because I think, get this; that I only have one and can’t be without her because what would I do?! This it totally crazy because having more children wouldn’t make things any better if something bad happened. But hey, infertility sends you to dark places and this is one of my fears I’ve brought back from a dark corner of my mind. Anyway, back to the topic in hand … I don’t think parenting is black and white? How do we measure a good parent? I’m pretty sure the number of children they have is irrelevant to their capabilities. I think modern day parenting is in a pressure cooker situation. We analyse to great depths, the decisions we make and the strategies we use. We feel our children’s emotions to such an extent that we take it personally, and take away opportunities for them to learn about dealing with negative emotions and challenging social situations. We are frightened of our children being unhappy, and jump to attention to give them their smiles back even if it isn’t actually the best thing to do for them. I think parenting is not about making your child happy, but rather teaching your child how to be happy. I hope I would do that whether I have one or two children.

Some believe only children are more likely to be spoilt brats. Always expecting attention or material possessions. I guess there is potential for that, but it really comes down to the parenting. I would like to think if Little One ends up eternally “only” she will continue to be kind and loving and not too selfish or demanding of others. I try to give her lots of opportunity for interacting with others, and she shares really well considering she doesn’t have to whenever she is home.

I think the bottom line is this: the number of children you want is your choice, the number of children you have is up to the universe. There is no right or wrong when it comes to how many children should occupy one house, and there are positives and negatives that come with any number of children.

I have to focus on the positives of having my ‘only’ Little One, and I say only in a sarcastic tone, as yes, she stands alone but she certainly is not solitary, or not enough as the term suggests. Logically I know we can take her places, show her things, spend time being very close with her and focus on doing the best we can for her. But my heart wants to give the unconditional love of a sibling, a childhood friend. We have an amazing family dynamic as 3, but I feel we are all needing an extra dimension to our family and 4 is right for us. I just wish we had the control to make our family the size we want it to be so that I don’t have to try to turn my logical thoughts into my actual feelings.

 

Happy Mother’s Day

Ok. The PMT this month was bad. Really bad. Darn Clomid making me crazy! But as always, I feel better now that the period is several days under way and I have the chance to start afresh. I know I have to kick the frustration, anger and anxiety to the kerb. I know those emotions are more than likely Enemy Number 1, and that controlling those feelings would give me a much better chance of getting pregnant. It is so complicated though. This long wait is one of the biggest contributors to my emotions, but it’s not straightforward. There are other issues that are probably causing my infertility (they are nothing too major but when everything comes at once, it gets complicated, right?) and from my infertility other issues arise. I sound messed up. I’m not. Ok, maybe a little. I need to find a way to see things clearly and manage each issue.

The most ironic thing is that parenting can cause me some anxiety which is probably affecting my fertility. Now let me tell you this. I LOVE being a parent to my little one. She has been the most rewarding and amazingly beautiful thing in my life. I never knew I could love someone like I love her. I have immense love for my husband, but love for a child is different. Not more. Different. Totally different.  Parenting is busy, frustrating, thought provoking, funny, loving, exciting, scary and challenging. It is also one big worry. I think that is one of the things that makes your love for your child so unique. I worry for her, I worry about her, feel her pain, her elation. I want to protect her from everything because the thought of her hurting emotionally or physically tears me up inside. And then I worry some more that I can’t always protect her. The little one can also drive me utterly batty occasionally, and I find those times extremely stressful.

It is exhausting when she is ill.

It is challenging when she pushes the boundaries.

It hurts when she is upset.

It is a worry when she has to take the next step in her life.

It is a wrench to be apart from her.

It is claustrophobic when we are together.

It is difficult to watch her become frustrated.

It is a pressure to do the right thing.

BUT, it is wonderful. A truly wonderful experience being a mother.

I hear the word Mummy, and it is directed at me. I know the little one loves me unconditionally. I know only I can make her feel better. I know it is me who she thinks of first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I have a best friend in her, and she one in me. It is amazing to watch the little one and my husband play and laugh together or cuddle up and read a book. It warms our hearts to look at her sleeping face each night, smile at each other and know we made her. I MUST remind myself of these things every day.

I am so blessed. I know that. Yes it isn’t always easy being a parent. Yes it isn’t easy at all that she is an only child. When she was born, and for a while through that warm, fuzzy haze of becoming a parent, I thought that everything would be OK in the world from then on. That nothing would matter because we had her and she made us ecstatically happy. Of course, the reality is she makes us ridiculously happy and proud but we still have difficult times to face even if our life is theoretically perfect. I guess that underneath these emotional rough seas it still remains true. Everything will be OK because we have her. I have to focus on doing the best job by her, and make every second with her count so that yes, even if my body fails me I can look back and know that I never failed the little one.

 And a message to my child who is yet to be conceived; I am your Mum too. Even though you haven’t chosen to come to us … yet. We are here, waiting for you, already loving you. It’s a day late, but Happy Mother’s Day to me.