mom-ing after infertility and the NICU

The thing that really sucks about moming after fighting so hard for a baby, is that the enemy makes you feel like you can’t mess up. That you must be grateful always for everything, even when the baby is staring at you and loudly screaming for no reason. In times like that, I don’t feel grateful – I feel annoyed at the screaming baby.

The other day, I just about lost it. Bryan has been working longer hours and I have a problem with spending too much time alone (we have no questions as to where Lainey gets her clinginess…). Lainey had been screaming her head off for what felt like an hour and I knew she just needed to sleep but for the life of me, I couldn’t lull her to sleep. I was so frustrated that I had to set her down and walk away to take a few deep breaths.

Immediately, an immense guilt fell over me. This guilt is all too familiar to many mothers, but especially those who have yearned for motherhood. After years of desiring a baby, miscarriage, infertility, and then premature labor and months in the NICU wondering if my baby would survive, how dare I have any feelings of frustration toward this child?

Isn’t that such a cruel lie that we let ourselves believe? That we must feel either love for our child or frustration with our child – that we can’t feel both at the same time. It’s almost an unspoken “rule” of motherhood after a struggle. And many of us know women who would love to be in our shoes, so we pretend like it’s not hard. But it is. And the voice in my head goes something like this:

Don’t get frustrated, Rachel.

You longed for this baby, Rachel.

You almost lost her, Rachel.

How dare you be frustrated with her, Rachel.

And on and on I go until I’m crying right along with Lainey.

But what if we CAN feel frustration with our children and an overwhelming love at the same time? What if we don’t have to feel guilty because our children are humans, not God, and they will fail us? What if instead of putting all of our hope in our children fulfilling our every expectation, we put all of our hope in a Father that will never disappoint – a Papa who does not condemn us when we feel like we are doing it all wrong?

Infertility and the NICU were hard enough. Stop condemning yourself for moments of anger and bitterness and frustration and realize that they can simultaneously exist with feelings of unconditional love and grace and mercy. And anywhere you fall short, God will pick up the pieces and begin putting the puzzle of our kid’s lives together, without any of our help.

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