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?