Jul 082009

“You’re the one who wanted this pregnancy, so what are you complaining about?”

I actually received this comment on yesterday’s post about my horrible morning sickness (I didn’t publish it), and I’ve heard countless variations of this sentiment since having my children – some from my own family. Here are just a couple of examples:

When I was going through life-threatening, ovarian hyperstimulation, a hospital nurse actually said to me, “I just can’t understand why you would choose to do this to yourself.”

When I was frustrated because Cakes was being a little stinker, someone said to me, “Well, you chose to have her. It’s your own fault.”

After learning that we were expecting again, I heard, “Well, when you find out that it’s more than you can handle, don’t come whining to me. This is your choice.”

I can’t tell you how much this kind of remark upsets me, but the attitude behind it upsets me even more. Some people seem to think that because IVF parents specifically choose, plan, spend money, and endure physical and emotional suffering in order to get pregnant, we somehow forfeit our right to be upset when something goes wrong. Huh?

So, if someone gets pregnant naturally, or even accidentally, it’s OK for her to be upset when she throws up 5 times a day, and feels so nauseous and miserable that she can’t even get out of bed. It’s OK for her to cry and sink into depression because she hasn’t had more than 4 hours of sleep in two days. It’s OK for her to complain when her kid won’t use the potty, or colors on the walls, or throws a tantrum in the grocery store.

But if you’re an IVF parent, you’d better just keep your mouth shut and deal with it, because you’re the one who “chose” parenthood.

Get ready, because there’s an opinion coming, and it’s a strong one.

I am an IVF parent, and I’m just like you. I love my children more than I can possibly express to you. I hurt when they hurt, and I rejoice when they triumph. I worry for their health and safety, and I have big dreams and hopes for their future. They are more important to me than anything in the world, and I wanted them so badly that I suffered, and sacrificed, and nearly died to have them.

I am also a human being, and I sometimes get upset, exhausted, and depressed. Though my children were conceived through IVF, they’re no different than yours. Sometimes they’re naughty and frustrating, and sometimes they’re an absolute joy. Parenthood serves up the same trials, struggles and dilemmas for me as it does for you. Yes, I chose to become a parent, but so did you. Perhaps you came to that decision differently, and were able to reach your goal more easily, but the end result is still the same.

So please, the next time an IVF mom tells you that her morning sickness is making her sad, weary, and exhausted, don’t tell her that it’s her “fault” because she “chose” it. Instead, tell her that you understand, or that you’re sorry, or ask how you can help.

And to all of you who go out of your way to offer me support, encouragement, help, and hope…you have no idea how much that means to me. I can’t possibly thank you enough.