Written by Conceive Nebraska board Member Nikki B.
Going through any fertility struggle is traumatic and devastating and the effects of this experience can have a long-lasting impact on parenting. From anxiety during pregnancy, anxiety after birth, feelings of constant worry that something will happen that takes this precious gift away, and feelings of guilt for experiencing the same frustrations and exhaustion that any other parent feels when you should feel nothing but grateful for each moment. Each person experiences parenting with infertility differently and each experience is valid. Please take note that I referred to it as parenting with infertility not parenting after infertility. I say this because there is no after. Even when someone is done growing their family, infertility is something that will forever be with their heart, body, and mind.
Expectations of Yourself as a Parent
Throughout the infertility process, you’ve likely had a lot of time to think about what you would be like as a parent and how you can be the best one possible. No matter what expectations we put on ourselves, there is no such thing as a perfect parent. For example, you may promise yourself that if you ever have a child, you’ll never get frustrated or yell. You may decide that you’ll never be an overprotective mother or father or that you will always be protective in an effort to limit the opportunities for disappointment and hurt. It’s important to recognize that the idealistic plans we have may not always be our reality. Parenting is difficult, and there are times where it feels too overwhelming to stick to the promises you made yourself. There may be times where you’re not always grateful and thankful like you said you’d be, that’s normal and more importantly it’s okay. Just because you became a parent through a more intensive process doesn’t mean your experience parenting after infertility will be different in these regards.
Talking to Children about Infertility
Should I tell my child how they were conceived? This is a heavy question, and the answer is unique to each individual. If I chose to tell them, how do I do it? If you chose to discuss infertility with your child, do it in an age-appropriate way. Whether you are explaining to them how you brought them into the world, or the discussion is focused on trying to conceive a sibling, answer their questions in the most age-appropriate and honest way you can, reassure them, and most importantly remind them of how much they are loved. Find the time and space that is right for you and for them to have this conversation.