Wednesday, December 7, 2011

One Year Ago This Week...

One year ago this week we found out that I was pregnant from our first IVF cycle. I'm not usually sentimental about small milestones, but this time it feels appropriate to reflect.

We are so very thankful to have made it through pregnancy and delivery relatively unscathed. We are eternally grateful for our wonderful family and friends who supported and encouraged us along the way. We are ecstatic that baby Eli is healthy and thriving...

Thanksgiving day outfit change... one of many 'cause I like to throw up most of what I eat.

Also, adjusting to life with a baby is really, really hard.

I understand better than most just how fortunate we are to be able to stand here today with our perfect, beautiful baby. And I get that it could be so much harder -- we are extremely lucky that I carried him to full term and we avoided the hell of coping with a baby in the NICU. I'm thrilled that he didn't inherit my heart defect or any serious medical problems for that matter...

But wow, we were so focused on getting a baby, we were totally unprepared for actually raising one. I spent the first few months of Eli's life torn up with guilt about how hard I found all of the changes. I thought I understood exhaustion before; as it turns out I had no idea. I thought breastfeeding would be the most natural, easiest thing in the world; nothing prepared me for the excruciating pain at first and then later the frustration of having a baby who didn't nurse well. I assumed I would fall in love with Eli at first sight and adore every moment I spent with him; however there was very little I found loveable about a constantly crying baby I couldn't seem to soothe.

A year ago, I was convinced that finally having my own baby would instantly erase all of the grief and sadness from my 5 failed pregnancies. Today, I understand that there's nothing easy about living with a baby and depression doesn't just lift overnight. I was shocked to discover that finally having my dream come true actually made me more depressed. Every time Eli cried (which was a lot), I cried too. I thought maternity leave would be a time of wonder and discovery while I got to know my baby, but in reality I was too exhausted and overwhelmed to find it very enjoyable. I know some women find the newborn stage amazing and fulfilling, but I'm not one of them. I wanted to love it more than anything especially given my history, and I despised myself for feeling miserable instead.

I'm so fortunate to have family who helped me get through the dark days. Tracy and Dave, thanks again for being there for me every night while Chad was overseas and I felt like I was drowning. Mom and Dad, thank you so much for making it possible for Eli and I to stay with you in Connecticut for a few weeks. Jacque, Nicole, and Shelley, thank you for sharing your stories and helping me feel less alone. Chad, I love you so much for everything you do to make my life easier (and especially for taking over the night shift so I can get more sleep!) All of you helped me regain my perspective so I was finally able to bond with my baby.

Eli and my mom at the end of our CT visit in October

This week, Eli is 4 months old. For the past month, things have been so much better. We made it through the ordeal of sleep training (thanks, Dr. Ferber) and now he frequently sleeps through the night, in his own room. He is full of smiles and adorable baby giggles. His face lights up in delight when we greet him after a nap. Finally, finally I have completely fallen for him. Picking him up from day care is the best part of my day.

Playing on his activity mat a couple of weeks ago

Eli may never be an easy child, but I'm okay with that now. He's perfect as he is and I can't imagine life without him. As Jeff Atwood said in his blog, raising a child is 49% the most incredible pain in the ass and 51% the most sublime joy you've ever felt. It's the 1% that makes all the difference.

Smiling at Tracy last weekend during our holiday photo shoot. Thanks again, Tracy!