That Very Specific Guilt of Having Kids After Infertility

My kids drive me bananas sometimes. Like, crazy to a level I have never known. Usually it’s when they are peppering me with questions and requests. Oftentimes it’s when they are conducting the crazy train all over our house and it’s too cold or dark to send them and their boundless energy outside. That hour or so between dinnertime and bedtime, when we’re all tired from a long day and our nerves are worn raw, is the danger zone. And I know it’s not just me who gets fed up with kids.

I love winter. I love winter. I love winter.

And then I think, I’m lucky though. I wanted this SO MUCH. I signed up for this. I booked appointments, took medications, paid for ultrasounds, and went through two surgeries for this. I would have given both arms for this. If I thought it would have helped, I would have danced naked under a full moon while chanting in a foreign tongue and waving an olive branch over my head FOR THIS.

Be careful what you wish for.

Using my precious time off to stay home with them when school is closed? Should have known. Spending more money on their shoes than I have ever spent on on mine? Yep, without a blink. There are people who don’t get to have this and who dream of having this. I’m blessed through the random gods that be and GET to be the mother of these amazing miracles.

There are so many different ways we as parents feel guilty. Saying no to a favorite activity because we can’t afford it right now/don’t want to do that. Waking up a sleeping angel before the sun is even up because school starts early. Not making ramen noodles again because you can’t have that every day for dinner. Listening to your kid pace a little outside your bedroom door before knocking instead of just inviting him or her inside right when you hear the pitter-patter. Oh, that might just be me.

I’ve heard this referred to as “mom guilt.” It’s 2018 now, people, and dads experience guilt just as much as moms, right?

This, though, is a very weird and specific kind of guilt.

I don’t know if parents who have come by children easily (or accidentally) feel this. There is an ever-growing cross-section of infertility conquistadors who have been able to achieve parenthood despite the odds. And speaking as one of them, I feel guilty. I feel guilty for the ones who are still battling or have given up the fight and are forging on without that particular dream being fulfilled. I feel guilty for yelling at my kids when they push ALL of my buttons and for rolling my eyes behind their back. I feel guilty for remembering my child-free life with a bit of nostalgia.

I shouldn’t complain, ever. I should live in perpetual gratuity. I should always, always be thankful. 

Tea-bag wisdom when I need it.

Some days, I worry about it all being taken away. I worry about my worst fear coming true and losing my children. I should live for the present and appreciate them now in case it all gets shot to sh*t, right? And then my fear does this funny thing and holds hands with my guilt, and my stomach starts to ache. My overthinking casts a shadow on my meager efforts to live in the moment. I can’t take this for granted because it would be an insult to all of the work it took to bear children despite infertility, as well as to all of those who have struggled with infertility or will someday.

How do you get over it?

Any ideas, healthy advice, revelations? Am I the only one who thinks this way? As they outgrow putting everything in their mouths and having accidents, will I outgrow this?

4 Responses to That Very Specific Guilt of Having Kids After Infertility

  1. Susan January 12, 2018 at 10:40 pm #

    Omg, Jenny – this is so true. For a long time I was angry at those who got pregnant by “accident”, at those who had successful multiples and just angry in general. Now, I feel awful for saying no or yelling at my child. We went through so much – mental and physical pain, financial hardship, challenging our marriage, losing a twin, etc. I should appreciate everything, right? I am not sure where the guilt ends. I do feel that those challenged with fertility experience something different. My son is almost 12 and I still struggle with this every day. I want him to be happy, but I know that I need to be happy in order for that to work. I am so thankful to have this miracle. I am so thankful fo my friends and family that stayed with us. Jenny, we are amazing moms. We are more than our infertilty.

    • Jenny
      Jenny January 13, 2018 at 8:36 am #

      Susan, yes! The anger and the unfairness of it all. I do think that is the foundation of the guilt. I love that, “we are more than our infertility!” I am so glad to know this resonated with you. Hugs!

  2. AmyJ January 27, 2018 at 9:31 pm #

    We tried for three years, spent big money on a failed out of state IVF, then somehow got pregnant on our own. Challenging pregnancy then a baby who arrived at 23 weeks. I thought pregnancy solved the angst I felt as an infertile but now I had a whole new reason for angst. Plus crushing anxiety and PTSD. I remember a very distinct moment when I questioned it all. Holding my infant NICU graduate (after 4.5 months), sleep deprived, trudging to multiple doctor appointments every week, cleaning for in home appointments, and on and on. I sat there and thought, “this? This is what we’ve been through years of emotional hell for?” Immediately I felt crushing guilt. How could I be anything other than grateful that I finally had a baby in my arms? I told no one of this moment for over a year. I felt so much shame. I went to a therapist who had been through infertility and she mentioned that when you go through infertility and you finally get a baby it’s like getting a trophy after winning a race. Hooray! Baby! Then what?! We feel like we aren’t allowed to feel the frustration and other normal parenting angst because of what we’ve been through. I gave myself an extra layer because my child survived when the odds were stacked against him. How can I do anything other than enjoy every moment? I’ve finally come to realize that I’m as human as any other parent who has had it “easier.” Parenting is hard and we’re allowed to not bask in the glory of every moment with our kids. It’s okay. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

  3. Jenny
    Jenny March 20, 2018 at 8:50 pm #


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