Parenting After Infertility
5 Things You Need to Hear
After struggling with infertility, finally becoming a parent might seem like the answer to all of your problems. You’ve been working so hard toward this goal, and it’s all you’ve wanted for so long. When you finally hold your baby for the first time, it will feel like the biggest triumph of your life.
And it will be. It’s true that bringing your child home, however they come to your family, will be a huge accomplishment worthy of celebration. There are few joys greater than becoming a parent, and you deserve to relish every second of your happiness.
But, like most things in life, parenting after infertility isn’t that simple. It might be the happiest time of your life, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be ups and downs. You’ll be dealing with the typical challenges faced by any new parent, of course — but you might also find that your infertility struggles affect your parenting in unexpected ways.
In the midst of your adoption process (or other family-building journey), it can be easy to get so caught up in paperwork, home studies, phone calls with your adoption specialist and meetings with your adoption attorney that you forget to prepare for the journey ahead: parenthood! Parenting after infertility and adoption can be the most rewarding experience of a lifetime, but it can also catch you off-guard if you don’t have a realistic idea of what to expect when you bring your baby home. Here are five tips for parenting after infertility to help you prepare:
1. Expect complicated emotions.
Infertility comes with many complex emotions — grief, sadness, anger, frustration, disappointment. When you’ve spent months or years longing to become a parent, it’s natural to assume that all those feelings will simply disappear when you finally meet your child for the first time. But that’s not necessarily the case.
It’s true that becoming a parent will be one of the happiest moments of your life, and the pain of your infertility struggles will likely fade as you enjoy the newest member of your family. However, adoption is not a cure for infertility, and it’s important to know that your past struggles are not something you will “just forget.” While those feelings will no longer consume you — and you should process those feelings and accept your infertility before starting the adoption process in the first place — you should still be prepared for them to resurface from time to time.
Additionally, it’s important to be prepared for the possibility of post-adoption depression. Just as some biological parents experience postpartum depression when they welcome a new baby, it is possible for adoptive parents to face confusing feelings of sadness and anxiety when bringing their new child home. It’s normal to face some stress as you adjust to your life as a new parent, and factors like a lack of sleep, unrealistic expectations of parenthood, a lack of community support and even feelings of sadness for your child’s birth parents can all contribute to the “baby blues.”
If these feelings persist, or if you begin showing signs of post-adoption depression, contact your doctor or a mental health professional for help right away.
2. Let go of perfection.
If you come to parenting after infertility, you’ve probably spent a good deal of time dreaming about exactly the type of parent you want to be. Maybe you imagined that you’d be the type of parent who could always get their child to eat their vegetables and clean their room. In your mind, you’d never get angry or upset with your child, and you wouldn’t take a single moment as their parent for granted.
But the reality of parenthood is that many of those ideals quickly go out the window once you actually bring your child home — and that’s okay! There’s no such thing as a perfect parent, and it’s not fair to hold yourself (or your child) to that standard you may have set in your mind. You’re only human, and you’re going to make mistakes. All parents do. Be patient with yourself.
3. Allow time to transition.
Similarly, you might have some expectations for your first meeting with your child. It’s hard not to imagine a magical moment of instantaneous connection — after all, this is what you’ve been waiting and preparing for.
But don’t beat yourself up if, when the time comes, it doesn’t quite live up to the hype you’ve created in your mind. While some parents do feel an immediate bond with their baby, not all do. This is true whether you become a parent by blood, adoption, surrogacy or other means.
If you find that you’re not bonding with your baby as quickly as you anticipated, that’s okay. It doesn’t make you a bad parent, and it doesn’t mean you don’t love your child. Sometimes it just takes a little time for you both to get to know one another, and there are plenty of things you can do to build a strong, unbreakable bond with your child.
4. Plan for a financial recovery period.
When you become a parent after infertility, it generally means you’ve been through a long, challenging process — one that likely involved a significant financial investment. It’s no secret that infertility treatments, surrogacy and adoption can all be expensive, and bringing your baby home doesn’t mean your finances will bounce back overnight.
As you budget for your family-building process, make sure you are also financially preparing for the costs of parenting. In their desire to become parents, some couples dedicate every penny they have toward fertility treatments or other family-building processes, which is understandable — but it’s also important to think about how you will pay off those expenses while providing for a new child. Babies come with expenses like diapers, medical care, childcare and more, and parenting after infertility can be especially expensive. Consider speaking with a financial advisor to create a plan for affording your family-building and parenting expenses.
5. Cherish every moment.
It’s true that parenting after infertility might come with some unique challenges — but as nearly every person who has been through it will tell you, it’s well worth it. In fact, studies show that parents who have struggled with infertility may show their children greater warmth, more emotional involvement, more interaction and less stress overall.
So, when those old feelings of infertility grief reemerge or you feel like you’re falling short of being a “perfect” parent, take a step back and try to enjoy the moment. Think about how far you’ve come, and know that you are doing just fine!
In many ways, your experience with parenting after infertility will be no different than any other parenting experience; you’ll likely have many of the same goals, hopes, struggles and joys that any other parent will have. However, if you find yourself struggling with the transition from infertility to parenting, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. An infertility counselor or support group can help you work through any concerns you might be having.
To learn more about how American Adoptions can help you move from infertility to adoption and eventually become parents, please contact our specialists today at 1-800-ADOPTION or request more free information online.
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