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Saturday, July 08, 2006

Sniff (children mentioned)

There is a tradition in IF chat rooms and bulletin boards to mention in the subject line of a post whether or not the post contains certain information. You will often see people post things such as "pregnancy mentioned" or "miscarriage mentioned" with the understanding that if you are not in a good mental space to read about these things, you should skip the entry. It's a courtesy that recognizes that sometimes there is a time and place for information--and the speaker recognizes not only their own need to speak, but also the listener's state to hear. This is an IF blog. But the repercussions of IF do not necessarily end with pregnancy or birth. There is parenting after IF. There is secondary IF. So sometimes I will discuss these things in the blog and I will place a note in the subject line. Feel free to skip. Or skip the entry now and come back later. Because some of these things are ideas that I wish people had discussed prior to this point in my journey.

This is something I was never told in any of the dozens of IF books I have read: parenting after IF is such a balance between the bitter and the sweet. I'm sure that there are similar emotions that breakforth for any couple when they know they are parenting their last child. But I think that people who parent after IF find themselves struggling with those transitions on the first child. Perhaps because you never know if you will get to hold another one.

I can't give up the bottle.

My children can give up the bottle. My son, in fact, waved at his bottle tonight and said, "bye bye ba-ba." And I looked at him in horror and said, "no, no, there's still one more bottle! Tomorrow night! This was not the last bottle."

I truly can't give up the bottle.

It could be the simple idea that we don't know if we will be able to have more children. There are the medical considerations and the financial considerations and they come together to create the perfect storm of childlessness. Even if we were to have more children, they may come into our lives at an older age since many international adoptions do not take place at the moment of the child's birth. There are waiting periods. And we may choose in the end to adopt a child that is closer in age to our existing children. In which case, we would miss their babyhood all together.

So no more bottles.

My mother was over two weeks ago when we mentioned that she should really enjoy the bottle she would give the following weekend. It would probably be the last bottle she would get to give. She looked wistfully at them playing and told me how she couldn't give up my crib. She had such a stumbling block when it came to moving me into a toddler bed. I think many parents who haven't gone through IF would have heard me talking about giving up the bottle and would have focused on the fears of the average parent--that the children would refuse to give it up, that bedtime would become difficult, that they would stop sleeping through the night. But my mother, a fellow Stirrup Queen, heard the catch in my voice when I mentioned the last bottle and she immediately knew what I was thinking. That it could be the last bottle I ever give since I don't know if there will be more children. It was the same struggle my mother faced when she had to move me to the toddler bed. There may not be another child no matter how badly she wants one. She was lucky and had my brother. She got to go through those milestones one more time.

I've had trouble with other transitions from babyhood to toddlerhood, but this one is the hardest. Maybe it's because it's tied to cuddle time. Or because it was so hard to get them to take a bottle in the beginning (our premature babies took 45 minutes to finish one ounce of milk) that it seems most unfair that we have to give up the skill once we've gotten really good at it. Maybe it's residual hurt from the fact that I couldn't breastfeed--a reminder that we had to do formula and bottles because the fertility drugs damaged my ability to produce prolactin. They gave me two babies and no ability to feed them--how is that for irony? Anyway, I'm not sure why I'm having such trouble with the bottle. All I know is that we need to give them up tomorrow night.

People who are parenting their last child, but who haven't gone through IF, may think they feel the same way. They may be holding onto their last child's babyhood. It's probably similar. I have a feeling that it's still slightly different.

Any other people parenting after IF out there? Do the transitions get easier? Does it just become more bittersweet?


Anonymous said...

I have similar feelings as I watch our children get older. As my children learn to walk, I have this battle emerging between the part of me that wants to cheer them on with every new step and the part of me that wants them to sit down and stay babies forever. As they become more independent, I find myself asking my son to never stop offering me cuddle time and hoping that my daughter will never get too big to sit in my lap as I read her a story. I know that they have to grow up. That's the way of life, but I think a piece of me will always wish I could go back to these baby days. By the grace of God, I am now pregnant again. I am only 7 weeks along and still very much in the high-risk window for miscarriage. Even though that fear is always tucked back in my mind, I find myself enjoying every minute of it knowing that this could very well be my last pregnancy. I wasted so much of my twin pregnancy worrying about things I could not control. I have promised myself that I will do my best to put those worries aside and allow myself to soak up the wonder of the miracle that is growing inside of me. So, I guess while IF has made me sad to see my children grow up, I think it has also taught me to appreciate and enjoy the time I have with each of my children.


Royalyne said...

I'm step-parenting during IF, but I know exactly how you feel. My stepson's biological mother never cut his toenails. They were gross and so long they covered the whole front of his toes. It has taken me 2 years to slowly cut them back to where they belong, and they actually look like toenails now. Out of fear of cutting him and great ease of use I always used nail scissors instead of clippers. He has normal toenails now, there is almost no chance of me clipping him on accident, and his nails are getting stronger and thicker and harder to cut with those tiny scissors, but I can't seem to convince myself to switch. I love those delicate little scissors, and those itty-bitty nails that cut so easily with them. He's 4 1/2 and I just can't let go of who he was when my husband and I got married, that little 2 1/2 year old boy who stole all the balloon decorations from the wedding and ended up jumping into a pile of them. Now he wants to decorate his own bedroom and he can write his whole name and recognize most of his numbers. I never got to give him a bottle, he had outgrown it before I became a part of his life, but I refuse to move on from those little nail scissors. He may be the only toddler who's toenails I get to cut, he may be the only child I ever have. I still don't know how to handle that possibility, so I'll keep the nail scissors a bit longer. I'm his mother, I have that right.

Aerk said...

My only child turned five on Tuesday. He was conceived very easily (after 4 months). When he turned one we started trying again. Little did we know what the future held. We tried for 3 years with minimal infertility treatments before saying enough of that. Only to find ourselves pregnant again in August of 2005. Only to find 2 months later at 14 weeks pregnant that I miscarried that much desired, much loved, much tried for baby. So, yes, I have tried to keep him little, but he is now 5. How can that be??? In my "crazy" attempts to keep him little, I am not sending him to Kindergarten in August. How in the world could that baby go to Kindergarten??? He was just born!!! I tell everyone it's because he has a July birthday. But you know that real reason is because I just can't let him go. I worked FT until he was 3. I am still having too much fun with him. I pray that God will bless us with another baby by next year at this time when I will have no choice but to send him to Kindergarten. If not, what in the world will I do???

Anonymous said...

It's going to kill me when my "baby" of 5 starts school next January.( we are in Australia) I have tried for 3 years to have another baby and only have 3 miscarriages to show for it and each due date comes and goes and I will have to let her go and face my empty house...