I hesitate to write about sleep strategies and parenting choices because people have strong opinions about these things and I don't really want to stir the pot. My opinion about strong opinions is that every person/couple has to do what feels right to them for their family. Whether that means co-sleeping or an immediate sleeping schedule, it's a very personal choice.
The problem Noah and I seem to be having is we don't really know what feels right yet and we have these moments in the middle of the night where we go back and forth about what to do. Should we put Momo in the bed? Give her a few minutes to cry before jumping in? Pacify with a pacifier or repeat Dr. Harvey Karp's Five S's until one of us passes out? Is it true that you can't spoil a newborn or do babies learn behaviors from the get-go? The past few weeks have been a bit of trial and error. Sometimes Noah and I hit a home run outta the ballpark and we are very pleased with ourselves and our blissfully sleeping baby, and other times we strike out miserably and can clearly hear each other's frustrations, even though Momo is crying like mad.
These are all normal moments of early parenthood. Flipping the pages of various baby books, checking our Wonder Weeks app, trying to remind ourselves that Momo has only been a person for five weeks-- feeling the fluctuations of fear and anxiety and pride and mastery. What I'm trying to figure out is if there is an added element to these questions for people who are parenting after infertility, and specifically for people who are parenting children not genetically related.
I remember my friend Candace, who adopted a baby boy after years of infertility that included nine rounds of IVF and multiple pregnancy losses, saying that sometimes when her baby would cry in the middle of the night she wondered if he couldn't be comforted by her because he somehow knew that she wasn't his biological mother. That was the trauma of her years of infertility seeping into her psyche. All new babies cry. She knows that. And she is very much his mother. She knows that too. But the automatic thoughts some of us have can sometimes be a reminder of our alternative path to parenthood, and I'm starting to pay close attention to how the journey might impact my own parenting decisions.
I feel extremely connected to Momo. I was lucky enough to have been able to carry her and give birth to her, even though both processes were kind of a nightmare. I never question if she knows that I'm her mother, but during these moments where Noah and I are trying to decide things like where she should sleep, I do think her not being genetically related plays an unconscious role in my thought process. Maybe my fears that she won't feel attached to us makes me lean towards having her sleep in our room for as long as possible. Maybe me intervening immediately when she starts to fuss or get upset is my way of not wanting her to ever feel scared or alone... OMG, as I write this I realize how normal yet insane it all is.
Every parent wants the best for their child and wants them to feel no pain. Every parent's heart breaks at the sound of their baby's cry. Maybe there are a few things that make parenting after IF a little bit different, but maybe a lot of the feelings and fears are common too. I think it's most important to try and figure out where the feelings and fears are coming from so that we can work through them best we can.
What are your thoughts about brining IF baggage to the next stage?