I remember when I was first pregnant. The first time around. We had been trying for about 4 years, and getting pregnant was not an easy road. I found out on Labour Day 2001. I was already about 8 weeks along. Although my husband and I had been trying for some time, I really never expected it to happen. After all, month after month we kept having a negative outcome.
I was beside myself with happiness, yet always cautiously optimistic. Right from the start, there were complications. Here we go. I knew it was too good to be true. Bleeding and cramping. Was it a clot or implantation? Was my beta level not doubling like it should? Who knew? Each visit to the doctor revealed a strong heart beat with no signs of fetal distress. That baby was hanging on….at least until one night in October , in my 15thweek, when I went with my mother to see CATS. I missed almost the whole show as I keeled over in pain in the washroom. I was having a miscarriage.
By later that night I was in the Emergency Room scheduling a D and C for the next day. And that was that.
Talk about the carrot being dangled in front of our nose. After all, I was past the first trimester…things like this are not supposed to happen after twelve weeks, right? I had already told EVERYBODY. My work colleagues knew. I was wearing maternity clothes and never in my life was I so happy to be gaining weight.
That glee was short lived, however, and I had to come to terms with the fact that we were not going to meet this baby as scheduled in April 2002. And so we were back to the drawing board.
My dreams were shattered. All around me were friends and colleagues who were announcing their news. This one got pregnant on their honeymoon. Or that one forgot to use birth control one night when she and her husband decided to finish a bottle of wine while ‘cuddling’ on their couch.
Was I jealous? No. I was envious. I wanted to be those people. I wanted it to be easy for us just liked it seemed to be for everyone else.
Unfortunately, this scenario is all too common. Our experience with getting pregnant was the same as for so many other couples out there. And I see it more and more in practice every day. Women come in and in addition to dealing with losses or miscarriages or the inability to conceive, they are have to explain why they are not pregnant to family members and friends who ask them incessantly why they still do not have any kids. The amount of pressure that is put on women to get pregnant, stay pregnant, and deliver full term healthy children is astounding.
Similarly, for many women, including myself some 13 years ago, this pressure is insurmountable and for many the beginning of a long road of anxiety and depression.
Why is it that our very personal business is suddenly everyone else’s?
Managing the Expectations of Friends and Loved Ones:
The fertility journey for many is a time of high anxiety, stress, and a boatload of pressure. When things do not go as planned, it becomes easy to lose sight of what really matters. We must rely on friends and loved ones. We must confide in those we trust. Most important, we must never lose faith.
When our children were little, the family schedule was easy to plan. Weekends were reserved for day trips and long get-togethers with friends and their families. We never really thought about who the children would play with. After all, when kids are little, they like to play with other little kids regardless of gender. And even if the children were not friends, per se, they would play together while their parents schmoozed and laughed and had the opportunity to catch up. Their interactions were usually limited to the type of game they were playing.
And, we could all spend hours together. We co-parented each other’s children while we too had the opportunity to pool a meal and just have a good time.
Back then, weekends were uncomplicated and fun. Often spontaneous as well.
In addition to choosing our children’s friends, we also chose their activities, or extra curricular programs. The never-ending baby groups, dance and music classes and swimming were all staples in my house, for all three of my children for as long as I can remember.
That is, until, my children started to grow up. Over time, the interests of my children began to evolve. They began having opinions about how they wanted to spend their free time and with whom they chose to spend it. The nerve! And, how dare they contradict the opinions and convenience of their parents?
Suddenly, their friendships became more deliberate, and their interests not only different from what we as parents had in mind, but from each other as well. They all want to try a little of this and a little of that. All fabulous in terms of exposing themselves to new interests and putting themselves out there, but definitely more difficult for parents to easily manage the family schedule.
Times like these become exceptionally complicated for parents. In our situation, three children, three different ages and stages. And, for the most part, they all like different activities and sports and there is virtually no overlap between them.
So, how do parents cope with complicated family schedules and diverse interests?
How can parents spread themselves to be able to promote the emerging interests of their children without completely drowning themselves?
Practical and Helpful Tips to Managing the Family Schedule:
On weekends, we take turns alternating between each child. God forbid one child feels like mommy or daddy is spending too much time with the others, etc. We try to balance. In between all the rest of it, we attempt to get the regular household chores done. Often these tasks fall to the bottom of the list and end up getting done when our children are in bed.
We try to remember that our schedules are unpredictable and so are our children.
But, most importantly, we try to remember that our schedules are unpredictable and so are our children. Through it all, although difficult, we try to let things roll off. We just do our best. Life gets in the way, and throws us curveballs sometimes. If we can get through the day, and everyone has survived, then we count ourselves lucky and move on.
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