** Trigger Warning – this blog talks about baby milestones
I don’t know if my husband and I will ever have another baby, but I do know that I’m very grateful for the baby I already have. He is now almost six years old, and on the day he was born, I bumped into my OB in the hospital hallway and interrogated him on when we could have another. It had taken two years and two miscarriages to successfully make my brand new little boy, and I already knew, even as he was only a few hours old, that the journey to #2 would also be timely and difficult.
Now, at this point in my fertility journey, with five more years, another miscarriage, and the emotional scars from many failed FETs under my belt, I’m very focused on wanting to live without regret. When I walk away from this journey, even if it is without another baby, I want to feel like I did everything I could.
But regret is a funny thing.
You don’t always know what you will end up wishing you hadn’t done until it is too late. And when I look back on my journey, my regrets have less to do with the fertility-related decisions I’ve made (which doctor, which medicines, which extra tests, when to take a break, etc.), and more to do with what kind of parent I was.
Had I known that my son would likely be my one and only, I think I would have been a different kind of mom.
I would have let him sleep in my arms a little longer. I was so focused on getting him to nap well and sleep through the night, in his own bed. I kept putting him down instead of hanging on tighter.
I would have breastfed him longer. It was our special alone time, all snuggly and cuddly and peaceful. But in order to start trying again, I stopped before I wanted. I kept thinking I would breastfeed longer next time…
I wouldn’t have raced through the milestones.
With my son being born prematurely, I wanted him to excel and ‘catch up’ to other babies his age. We are a family of overachievers and I wanted that for him too. I was so focused on what was next that I didn’t revel enough in what was happening in the moment.
I would have changed my mindset. I kept thinking “with our next one, I’ll be more calm, more flexible, more patient. I just want to get this one right.” I squandered away the opportunity to be a go-with-the-flow mom because I kept thinking I would get another chance to relax.
I would have always tried my best, every day.
On days when the extra fertility hormones overtook me, when the early mornings at the clinic cut into my already limited sleep, when the test results broke my heart… I would think, I’ll be a better me tomorrow. But fertility treatments are not designed for people with children — the early mornings keep coming and the hormones keep elevating your stress. Now when I look back, I wonder: could I have done better? Been a more patient mom? Been a kinder, more loving wife?
I would love another chance — a do-over. I regularly look at my amazing son and think: If I could do it all again, you would be exactly the same, but I would be focused on only you. I wouldn’t have spent so much time dwelling on what was wrong, what we couldn’t have. I’d have kept my eyes open, been more alert, cuddled you longer, let you sleep in my arms more often, written down more memories, taken more videos, laughed more, played more, taken more family trips… I would have only had eyes for you.
To all the new moms who have battled infertility, come out the other side, and know they have another fight ahead… Don’t rush it. Don’t blink. Don’t miss a single thing. I truly hope you will go on to have another, and another —as many children as you’d like to have. But make sure you’re taking the time to enjoy the one in front of you as well. Treat your baby like they will be your one and only, even if they won’t be.
By Vidya Ledsham