Intrigued and petrified.
That’s how I felt when I was first approached with the idea of writing about what I refer to as my adventures in motherhood. I’ve never been one to claim that I have all the answers or all the ends wrapped up neatly in my life, so the thought of talking about my experiences did cause me a bit of terror.
After that subsided, I did a lot of thinking. In the few short years (5 and a half to be exact) I’ve been someone’s mother, I’ve had some great experiences, some unbelievable adventures and wondrous moments of clarity that I hope can shed some light on others traveling down the same path…..or at the very least remind you that your not alone in the journey.
I’ve decided to call this “What The Parenting Magazine Don't Tell You," because I think that everyone, me included, can benefit from relating to real-life experience. I’ve done a good deal of research: books, magazines, eavesdropping, whatever I could to help me get a handle on this new life-altering role of parenting. Yet none of it prepared me for the things I go up against on a daily basis. I think I can speak for most parents when at the end of the day, we are just happy we got everyone through with no broken bones or calls to poison control.
My first “real-life” lesson was about infertility. My husband and I swam through that ocean of uncertainty for 18 months. After those very long months filled with trips to specialists, temper tantrums (on my part), scary-sounding medication and a very impersonal fertility treatment, I walked away with an education, a new respect for the whole process and a pregnancy. Not hard at all (insert sarcasm here).
I remember one time in particular that I think defines what couples struggling through the infertility process experience. We had been married for about five years and were at a baby shower, one of those nightmares for men that are called “Jack and Jill” showers. I dragged my husband along as the invitation instructed. We were seated with a couple we didn’t know and their adorable toddler. The well-meaning husband was on his seventh comment about how good we were with kids and how he couldn’t understand what we were “waiting” for when the inevitable snap came from deep within my brain.
Prior to this man’s comment, my husband and I deftly avoided the topic by just smiling, nodding and playing with the blabber-mouth’s kid. After all, I didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable, but that seventh comment did it. Talk about the straw and the camel. I took a deep breath and I felt my husband involuntarily tense up, as if he sensed what this poor man was up against. I looked at him, again, someone I just met, and said “you know something? We would love nothing more than to have a baby, but we don’t seem to be as lucky as you and your wife. So instead of badgering us, how about you just keep enjoying the free babysitting?” This was said with a smile of course, my hoping to deflect some of the acid that was dripping off my tongue.
That was the lowest point in the whole process. The high point came when we met with the doctor again and after my treatment (a very technical and impersonal sounding thing called an IUI), he was so positive about the outcome that it rubbed off on my husband and I. We left the office a little lighter on our feet and four weeks later, we got the best news of all. We were pregnant. Finally. Miraculously.
But in true ‘Andrea fashion’ I didn’t believe the test at first. I let the familiar disappointment wash over me. I took the test at 5:30 a.m., before my husband left for work. I checked it and it had two lines. I turned to him and said “it’s negative.”
He said, “Wait, Andrea, doesn’t two lines mean positive?” I was so annoyed with him! I knew what I was doing, right? Didn’t I take like 20 of these tests already? I said, “Um, no! Two lines means negative.” And then I crawled back in bed.
My poor husband, so confused by my reaction and his, thinking he was right, but not daring to tell me I was wrong, just stood there. Then the realization of what I’d just said hit me. More like punched me. I jumped out of bed and said, “Wait, what? What do two lines mean? Where’s the box, where’s the box???” And sure enough, two lines were what we’d been waiting and waiting to see. My confused brain just couldn’t recognize it.
That wouldn’t be the first time I’d be utterly and hopelessly confused. I had no idea what was in store for us nine months later. Next time, I’ll share my experience with our first child coming into the world with a short layover in the neo-natal intensive care unit. They don’t talk about that in the parenting magazines either!
Andrea Shinsato is A West Hempstead mom with a 2-year-old and one child enrolled in Chestnut Street School.