I've been thinking a lot about identity lately. Again. The concept of identity has come up now and again for me during the years of figuring out who I was as a woman trying to make a family. It's a no-mans-land, an in between place you are stuck, but when you are stranded on IF Island for a significant amount of time, you kind of can't help but notice that infertility becomes part of your identity.
Now that Momo is six months old--I know, can you believe it? She's amazing. She's in the 95th percentile of weight and height (thank you 5'11 egg donor!) and she's starting to crawl and find her voice (especially at 5:30am when she has SOOO much to talk about). Watching her develop is all that I've ever wanted. Watching me develop as a parent is...interesting. And that's where identity comes to play for me. Even though I have embraced that I'm lucky enough to have that coveted role of parent, I still identify way more with being infertile (though I hate that word). Why?
Infertile, hopefully, for most people, is a transient identity (even though it often feels like it goes on forever). It is temporary until you transition to being an expectant parent (whether being P, or through surrogacy or adoption), then you land on the identity that you've so been wanting for, hoping for, fighting for. But there is so much insecurity and fear through all of it for different reasons, it kind of feels like you... (or maybe I should just say I because I don't know if others can relate at all to my brain ramblings here-- I have 20 mins to write as Ms. Cat Napper is ten min into nap #2 of the day) one day just become a parent. That's exactly what happens. Though it can be years of struggle and heartache and then nine months of expectation, becoming a parent does happen in a moment. A single, painful, incredible moment.
Now what, right?
It's taken me about six months to feel like I can consciously start to incorporate the different identities that I've had over the past five years. While part of me wants to just let the past go and focus on where I am, who I am now, I know one of the added bonuses of being a parent after infertility is getting to think about these things and reflect on how the "journey" has added to who we are as people and as parents. I say added here, though I know the process can also sometimes take certain things away. But why focus on the deficits?
I was an infertility patient for a lot longer than I've been a parent, so I know how to navigate that realm. This other stuff I'm still figuring out. All of our experiences make us who we are, make our relationships grow, and make us more complicated and interesting people. I have to believe that. Perhaps much of this is about embracing this new identity without needing to completely shed the past. Integrating infertility into parenthood.