Today A Calm Persistence wrote a post where she talks about self-doubt, wondering if she is going to be a good mom, and if this might be why she doesn’t have a baby yet. This thought is something that’s been hiding out in the back of my mind for a long time. It’s not the kind of worry that pushes to the front and forces you to think about it often, but instead hides out where you don’t notice it, waiting to pop out at you when you’re not expecting it. It usually pops out at me when I’m already feeling insecure to begin with.
Really, there are so many things I’m unprepared for. What if I somehow manage to make it through infertility, just to find out that I’m a terrible mother? I feel like I can handle the baby years. Having a newborn sounds like a ton of work and unbelievably exhausting, but predictable. I know I’ll feel overwhelmed, and only get a few hours of sleep a night, and I’ll be excessively worried about whether I’m doing it all right. But these are all predicable struggles. It’ll be tough but do-able. What terrifies me is what comes after. Raising a child.
What if I can’t manage to discipline my kids and they run wild? What if I yell too much, or say no too much, or pass on my most terrible qualities? What if I’m too terrified of something bad happening to them that I can’t let them out of my sight? What if I’m too self-centered and can’t put my own needs behind theirs? What if there are social situations that trigger my anxiety and I fail them instead of fighting the anxiety and handling things head-on?
Some days I’m so worried about these things, and so sure that I’m not capable of it all, that I can convince myself that I’m not supposed to be a mom. That infertility is the universe’s way of saying that it isn’t meant to be. Some things just tend to work out for the best, and maybe it is actually for the best that I can’t have a baby, even though I can’t see right now. Isn’t my desire to have a child just a selfish instinct in the end? Maybe I should be thinking more of the best interests of my potential child rather than my selfish need to have a baby.
The rational part of me knows that this can’t all be true; so many people have kids and have no clue what they’re doing. They parent entirely by instinct (which may or may not be good instinct), with no intentionality or thought-process. I may have no experience yet, but I’ve spent so much time thinking about how I would parent. I’ve thought about what I would do in different types of situations, or how I would handle circumstances that come up. I’ve thought about how I would discipline them, how we would spend time together, even what foods they’d be allowed to eat or not eat. I’ve had 3 years to think about this since we started trying, but really, I’ve been thinking about these kinds of things ever since I started babysitting in middle school. I may end up being wrong about all of it, but just having put that much thought into parenting must give me some sort of head-start, right?
I know that these types of fears are normal for first time parents (or wanna-be parents in my case). But, infertility adds a particular kind of edge to the worries. We’ve spent massive amounts of time, money, and effort to end up with a child. If we finally get there and then fail, it seems like an extra special kind of failure. Not only did we fail our child, we also spent tons of time, money, and effort to have the opportunity to fail. Pretty pathetic. Plus, we have all this time to worry about the choices we’re going to make. When you decide to have a baby and get pregnant quickly, you only have so much time to freak out before it’s too late. We get endless amounts of time to worry about our potential abilities as parents before it ever becomes an issue.
At the moment, there isn’t much I can do about any of this; I’m not giving into the worries and giving up, but the thoughts will still be there hiding out and waiting for my low moments to pop back out.