I’ve posted something on this site on actual Mother’s Day for several years, forgetting it’s probably the one day when infertility patients avoid the internet the most. The never ending thank yous to mothers all over the world multiplies the pain that you feel if you’re still on your journey to bring a child into this world.
It’s been more than sixteen years since our infertility journey ended with Elliana Faith, our miracle last ditch poor quality embryo frozen in New Jersey. Against odds the infertility doctors were unwilling to even give us, she survived the thaw, and was born in October of 2002, and we immediately jumped the infertility highway to the post infertility parent superhighway.
The pace of time has accelerated since Elliana was born. It’s almost cruel how much faster the hours pass as a parent than they did when we were still trying to become parents.
If you’re still in the journey to bring your first child into your universe, by all means feel free to tell me to piss off, because I can’t relate to your pain anymore. Nothing, and I mean nothing compares to the pain and stress of cycle after cycle without even a positive pregnancy test.
Lisa’s womb absorbed four dozen embryos over a six year period of infertility hell. The two-week waiting periods after the 11 embryo transfers it took for us to finally succeed felt like two months — and that was our life for six years.
Despite the bliss and bluster of our years as parents, the drip drip of a new method of post-infertility torture is beginning to take its toll on our consciousness. In our pre-Elliana days the question that could send us into a fetal position or an angry Dinero-esque f-bombing tirade was “Do you have kids yet?”
Now I have seen Lisa physically and spiritually flinch when people make this new horrible inquiry: “Where is Elliana going to college?” I guess the idea of being childless due to her leaving for college or a career as a traveling singer/songwriter is bringing back memories of being involuntarily childless.
Of course it’s entirely different logically — we know we’ll see her, and can talk to her or text her whenever we want, but at some point, no matter how long she visits or goes to college there may be more days we spend without her than with her coming in the not-to-distant future.
We are facing a new post infertility waiting period
That uneasy waiting period before the blood test to confirm we were pregnant has been replaced by a new, even more unsettling milestone looming over us – Elliana will be graduating from high school in two years. It consumes Lisa as she worries that we haven’t done enough, didn’t provide a happy enough childhood, or dragged her into some of the adult problems that we all face whether we go through infertility or not.
Elliana is going through a phase where she hates having her picture taken. I know that the teenage girl years can be filled with insecurities as they compare themselves to their peers, and it doesn’t really bother me, having gone through my own doubts about my looks as a teenage boy.
It really upsets Lisa though. I didn’t understand it at first, but after a blow up on Mother’s Day weekend over Elliana’s picture taking reluctance, Lisa started crying “I don’t have that many more years left with her. I don’t want to look back and have no memories.”
I realized Lisa’s trying to live in moments that are speeding by at a rate we never dreamed possible. Pictures will be the only evidence of those moments as time marches on, so the epic battles fought over a few digital photos are worth the effort to her.
The known is being replaced with the unknown
Nothing was certain until we got the beta test call. Most of those moments were sheer agony, but it only took one phone call to change everything. One super positive pregnancy test.
Now we face the reality that everything is about to become uncertain again. Elliana is an extraordinary, beautiful, talented and independent young lady.
It’s the independent part that is causing our distress. In the fog of our battles to bring Elliana into this world, we didn’t even consider the reality that someday we would be releasing her from the nest into the world.
There will moments where we will be wondering, or agonizing, over whether she is okay, safe, happy, contented, angry, sad, depressed. If, God forbid, she moves away from us, there will likely be extended periods of time that we are not together.
Of course this is the natural progression of parenthood. Her confident desire to head out into the world is a testament to a job well done on the parenting front — yet it’s so deeply bittersweet.
Learning to live in the moment again
In order for us to survive infertility, we learned to be in the moment. We couldn’t live in sorrow for the cycles that failed, and taught ourselves not to obsess about a future we couldn’t control.
Because we want to see Elliana succeed, our only choice is to savor every moment that we spend as she begins turning the corner on the second half of her high school years. There is plenty to look forward to, but the hours and days just go by too damn fast.
I am returning to our infertility therapist days, practicing deep breathing and relaxation on a daily basis, but sometimes when I see Elliana heading out the door, and I can’t breathe at all. She is so much older than her age, and I know that means she will flourish the more she is out in the world meeting people who also appreciate her amazingness.
The best I can do is be present as much as possible. Put the phone down at dinner. Let the business call go to voicemail. Maybe not give her so much shit about not emptying the dishwasher or her teenage chaos of a room.
Maybe if I spend more time in the moment, time will slow down just a fraction. I hope so.
But I blinked my eyes and yesterday we celebrated our 16th Mother’s Day. I’m just praying that God will help me find a way to stop blinking.