I actually let my subscription to New York magazine expire a few weeks ago. I just didn’t have time to read it on a weekly basis and there was no point in spending the money to keep it up if I wasn’t going to read it. This meant that I didn’t see the latest gem of a cover complete with attention-grabbing headline (and the even more groan-worthy subheader “Why Parents Hate Parenting”) until Adele eloquently discussed it through the lens of multiple pregnancy loss.
I dutifully read the article while absently noting that none of the information contained within it was either a) new or b) different than what I have read time and time before. What is new is the perspective with which I read the article. Because, you see, I have been on both sides of the equation now – the primary infertility with multiple pregnancy loss side and the healthy baby parenting side.
I’ll get the obvious part over with. The article is right on one point: parenting is hard. It is fucking hard. It is so hard sometimes that you want to hide in the closet and cry. It is joy, it is pain, it is sunshine and rain. It is wonder and it is drudgery. But, as hard as it is, I don’t hate it. There have been times when I really don’t like it, but never hate. In contrast, I can say unequivocally that I hated being infertile and dealing with repeat miscarriages. I hated that I couldn’t do what every one else seemed to be able to do with a lot less money and effort.
In acknowledging and agreeing (read = complaining) that parenting is hard work, though, I am not saying that I am not grateful. Sweet Baby Toes, every day I am grateful. I am grateful that we were lucky enough to be able to afford multiple rounds of IVF. I am grateful that we were able to use our own genetic material. I am grateful that my body was able to grow this magnificent human being and bring him forth into this world. I am so grateful sometimes it hurts.
And, I still remember oh so well how hard it was to lose our first two babies. I literally woke up from my first D&C crying that I had lost my baby. I remember the bitter sense of unfairness that not only did I have to wait two years and go through multiple procedures to even get pregnant the first time, I lost the baby anyway (and went on to lose a second, after our first IVF). It seemed doubly cruel to me. All told it took us almost five years to have Rex. Five years. Even lazy college students started and finished school in less time. I was lapped twice around by at least one friend.
But, it’s hard to be grateful all the time about anything, not just about babies. As the song goes, I can’t complain, but I will. I freely grouse about my job, my husband, my parents, my house, the dog, the cats, you name any good thing I have in my life and I will complain about it. Not constantly, maybe not even regularly, but one of the few things that keeps me sane in this world is being able to complain, to vent, to seek a little understanding of my daily trials so that I don’t feel as if I am the only person in the universe going through whatever bullshit is of the moment.
Understanding. Isn’t that we are all looking for at any given moment? The feeling that we are not alone in our pain, our confusion, our sorrow, our little annoyances. Unfortunately, there was little room in this article for understanding the perspective of someone dealing with infertility which is why the blithe complaints just seem like such a smack in the face to so many. But, I understand. I understand that the pain of difficult parenting is nothing compared to the pain of infertility and pregnancy loss. Nothing. Not even a pinky finger’s worth of difficulty.
Perhaps the parents in this article ‘hate’ parenting because they haven’t had to deal with the real hateful experiences that are infertility and miscarriage.