When I made the decision to become a single mom by choice, I had no idea that all the probing and waiting and more probing and tests weren't just time consuming, but actually ways fertility treatments prepare you for motherhood. Of course there are still times when I feel like throwing in the towel, giving up and escaping to a desert island with my crushes James Franco and Alexander Skarsgård, but I'm guessing that's something every mom fantasize about, too. Right?
While I've yet to join the motherhood club, the numerous trips to my fertility specialist, not to mention the lab, the donor bank, acupuncturist, and OB-GYN — all while juggling two jobs and a social life — are giving me a sense of what it's going to like when I'm inevitably tested by a little one, all while trying to live my normal life.
Because here's the thing, I know that once I see those two pink lines, my life is going to change forever. I also know that, even in the midst and aftermath of all that change, I'm still going to be me. I mean, I've been myself for thirty-something years, so I don't really expect to morph into an entirely different being. Sure, things are going to be different, there's no question, but I have to say; this journey of trying to grow another human inside my body has already changed me, and you know what? This journey of trying to conceive (TTC), is preparing me for motherhood in the following ways:
You Learn It's OK To Be Average
When I got the results of my fertility test, I was told that I was average for a woman my age. Immediately, I burst into tears. Average has such a negative connotation, especially to a perfectionist like me. However, after consulting some sage friends, I put being "average" into perspective. As a mom, I don't want to teach my child to be a perfectionist — living your life like that creates too much pressure.
As noted in The Huffington Post, as a mom, OK is good enough. In fact, being who you are, rather than some fictitious representation of the "perfect mom," is probably going to keep you grounded and allow you to be who you truly are. Who can ask for anything more?
You Learn A New Meaning Of Patience
Sing it, Axl. Being patient is one of the most difficult virtues to master, especially in a culture where people expect instant gratification all the time. Plus, I hear that kids require patience (understatement) because they aren't as emotionally evolved as their parents. I've learned to view patience as power, a practice noted by Psychology Today as a way to ward off frustration, keep your sense of humor, and live in the moment.
You Learn That Things Don't Always Happen According To Plan
I certainly don't want to be one of those moms who has every single solitary activity scheduled, down to the minute and with no room for deviation. Because, well, sometimes you have unexpected adventures when you toss your planner, and unexpected adventures are just the best. As an article in the New York Times noted, sometimes things don't happen for a reason. Sometimes things just happen. Isn't that thought insanely freeing?
You Learn That You Got This Sobriety Thing
I'm a lady who likes her cocktails. What can I say? But, as my two-day hangovers have taught me, I just can't party like I used to. Fertility treatments have also taught me I don't need booze to have a good time. For those nine months, when I'm growing a baby (and longer if I breastfeed), I'm going to be going without vino or any other libation, because I want a healthy baby and fetal alcohol syndrome is serious business. But you know what? I've got this sober thing.
You Learn To Listen To Your Intuition
I'd be lying if I said I had the support of everyone in my inner circle about becoming a single mom by choice. Good thing it's my uterus, my choice. And my gut is telling me this is what I want.
You Learn To Filter Advice
Piggybacking on number five, fertility treatments have taught me to filter advice (especially unsolicited advice) from nosy individuals. I've learned to politely dismiss advice I don't want to hear with a curt thank you and a swift exit.
You Learn How To Navigate Mom-Shaming
When another mom asked me if I was getting "artificial insemination," I knew by her use of the outdated and slightly offensive term that she and I weren't on the same page. While it's not my job to teach other moms that families come in all different shapes and sizes, it's useful to have a couple of answers at-the-ready once my child arrives, to ward off mom-shaming and to protect my little one.
You Learn To Get Comfortable With Weird Bodily Functions
I have two words for you: vaginal catheter. Sound fun? Not so much. You'll be leaking some kind of goo (lube mixed with your own juices) for a couple hours after it's inserted and removed. You know what else? Sometimes you queef during vaginal probes. I've learned to get over the embarrassment (I mean, I'm writing about it, so clearly I'm comfortable with my body) because childbirth (from what I've heard) is no picnic. Do I care that complete strangers have seen the inside of my uterus? If the sight of my insides will bring me closer to having my baby, not one bit.
You Learn To Focus On The Big Picture
With every blood test and every disappointment, you can feel like a little bit of your soul is being chipped away. However, as any great mom will tell you, if you focus on the minutia, you'll forget to see the big picture. As noted by The Huffington Post, stress-free parenting means you don't sweat the small stuff. To keep my sanity during fertility treatments, keeping my eye on the prize is essential.
You Learn That Your Heart Beats Outside Your Chest
How can you love someone so incredibly and fully, even though you haven't brought them into existence? I can't explain it, but anyone undergoing assisted reproduction knows exactly what I mean. That feeling, that all-consuming, remarkable feeling, makes the rest completely worth it.