I made a conscious decision to have children. A very conscious, pricey, labor intensive and mentally exhausting decision. I paid lots of money to implant these children in my upside-down womb. I spent many hours with an impossibly long probe shoved up my lady parts, counting follicles and measuring the thickness of my uterine lining. Trying to see if the environment was just right for these children to grow and thrive. Needle sticks, IVs, vaginal probes, counting eggs, counting days, calculating hormone levels, the endless waiting. Will everything go exactly as planned so these little ones can survive? Would my hormone levels stay just high enough to make them a thick, comfortable nest in there? So they can burrow in for 40 weeks and just keep growing?
In the throes of my years of IVF, I never really spent time thinking of actually parenting these kids. I was so focused on growing them and keeping them in there and then birthing them and then having them not die in their sleep. And I did it. Three times. My ovaries -- which suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome and are basically total duds -- cranked out the right amount of follicles, that became eggs, that became embryos (thanks to my husbands labor intensive and mentally exhausting task of watching porn), that then became fetuses. Then, they actually came out of my body. Just like that.
The environment was just right for them to grow and thrive... in utero.
Now that they are here in my house (actually in my bed many nights) and growing in vivo, now what? How do I create that thick lining for them to nest in? How do I make sure they keep growing? How can I get them to leave me alone for 20 minutes? Why are they such a**holes sometimes? Why did no one tell me that as parents, you will always love your kids, but there will be many, many days when you don't like them? At all.
When I was up to my eyeballs in IVF, i never for one minute thought that I wouldn't adore my kids all the time. I laugh just reading that line. Oh, naive sweet self, you were so adorably stupid. Never did I imagine wanting to raise my voice to my daughter. Never did I think that I would take the long way home from work to just get a few more minutes of alone time. No one told me that my oldest son would lose or destroy anything nice that I bought him. And sometimes pee on it. Or that he would be so hyperactive and loud I had to wear earplugs in my house. No one told me that my youngest son would be so insecurely attached to me that he would hold on to the drawstrings of my pants while I walked around the house. And sit on my lap as I peed. And then scream a poltergeist screech when I had to put him down to take care of business.
Only now, as a parent of real live kids ages 10, 7 and 2, do I know that IVF and parenting are similar in that they're both all about survival. My mama earth friend and mother of soon-to-be-six who stays home with her litter every single day -- by choice -- said it best. I was telling her that my daughter has this life-sucking habit of waking up between 4 and 5 a.m. ready to start the day. Engine fired, hopped up on her natural endorphins, LOUD as f*ck. I was telling my friend that I didn't want to give her my phone, though it would keep her quiet and occupied, because screens are probably not what her revved-up mind needs. Mama Earth looked at me and said: "Give her the screen. She's not going back to sleep anyway, and at least this way you can . It's all about survival at 4 a.m."
It made sense. It was all about survival when I was growing them and counting and injecting and ingesting ungodly amounts of hormones.
Its still about survival now. Theirs and mine. Whatever that may look like. Medication, screens, earplugs, peeing with a toddler on my lap, sleeping with four other people in my bed, drinking a glass (or three) of wine every night. It's how to grow children. Messy, crazy, loud, chaotic, perfect children.
So, for all the mothers out there, whatever you need to do to survive and grow your children, Godspeed.
You're doing the best you can for today. Maybe tomorrow you'll l get to pee alone.