I’ve read many posts recently stating how hard motherhood is.
Don’t get me wrong. I totally agree.
In a picture perfect social media world, it’s good to know there are other mothers out there who have been the one dragging a screaming toddler through the shopping center getting looks of sympathy and disdain in equal measures.
It’s good to know there are other mothers who have done five nappy changes before the morning is out and feel like they are slowly going crazy for it. And it’s really reassuring to know that others have contemplated if it’s appropriate to have a glass of wine in the afternoon to make the seemingly endless gap between nap time and bed time feel a little shorter (probably not appropriate but occasionally required ― just one).
I really do love those posts, but I also know that for every really bad moment of motherhood there is at least one really great one, too. I know that those mothers who write these articles would lay down their lives for their children in an instant and although sometimes it feels like there is no light at the end of the tunnel (or even just the end of the day) they wouldn’t give up their children for anything.
I also think about the IVF mothers. Those ladies doing IVF, waiting for their chance to become “real” mothers. Because these women are mothers, too.
No, they haven’t had the exhaustion following a night up with a sick child, but they have had many sleepless nights too anxious to sleep worrying how many eggs will be collected tomorrow or if the eggs will fertilize or if there will be an embryo to transfer or any of the million other things that can go wrong in the IVF process.
They haven’t had the guilt of snapping at their toddler because she is just hard work that day, but they have had the guilt of wondering if it was because they left it too late or partied too hard or wasn’t healthy enough that caused them to now have difficulty having children.
They haven’t endlessly researched what the best school or daycare center nearby is, but they have spent numerous hours trying to find alternative ways to increase their chances of getting that take home baby.
They haven’t had the feeling that their body no longer belongs to them but rather to the breastfeeding baby that constantly demands it around the clock, but they have had the feeling that their body is unrecognizable from what it was because of the medications bloating it or the surgical interventions scaring it.
And they do all this knowing that they may never be a “real” mum. That the baby they wish for may never actually make it into the world.
These mothers, the IVF mothers, focus every day on making their future child. From the daily injections we hear so often about to the white lies being told at work so you can go to another fertility clinic appointment undetected.
The baby showers they go to so they can prove to the world that infertility isn’t owning them but secretly they are not sure how they are going to get through it. The hurt that is felt when being asked, “When are you going to have children?” and the greater hurt of when it is obvious they are having difficulty having children and this question stops.
These mothers have had more embryos in their womb then many “real” mothers ever will. They have lived through far more two-week-waits then anyone should have to.
They also have the strength of being a “real” mother. Just like a real mother knows that the hard times won’t last forever so does an IVF mother. Though it’s easy to forget, this time won’t last forever.
Whether their miracle baby gets born or they form their family by some other way, or even if they eventually make their peace with the fact that life may be far different to what they always intended, infertility won’t be all consuming forever.
These IVF mothers don’t need our sympathy but they need to be acknowledged for the mothers that they are, even if it is a mother of a different sort.
So next time you read a story about how hard motherhood is, spare a thought for the IVF mothers. I’ve lived both sides as an IVF mother and a “real” mother.
Both have its challenges and it’s not a competition that either would want to win. But in my opinion, the only thing harder than being a real mother, is not being one.