Mom guilt. Every mom has it. And yet, sometimes I feel like mine is amplified a bit since I fought so hard to have my children.
I always say that the scars of infertility don’t fade the minute you find out you’re pregnant. Well, as it turns out they don’t fade when you become a mom either. Infertility has a habit of staying with you long after the two lines on a positive pregnancy test, and while my journey to become a mom to my twins has made me infinitely more grateful to have them, it has also made me much more aware that I am one of the lucky ones.
There was a time when I wondered if I would ever be a mom. So when I found out I was pregnant with twins after my second IVF transfer I felt like I needed to enjoy every single moment of my pregnancy, even though it was a rough one, because I knew all too well what the alternative was.
My entire first trimester was spent in a state of constant worry and 24/7 nausea, and the majority of my third trimester was spent on hospital bed rest to stave off several attempts by my body to go into pre-term labor. Still, despite the ups and downs of my pregnancy, I told myself I shouldn’t complain since I had made it to the other side of infertility. I was finally going to be a mom.
I experienced similar feelings after my twins were born. At this point, we had not only beaten infertility, but I ended up making it to 37 weeks and our twins avoided the NICU entirely. We got to take them home with us from the hospital, which is something I never thought we would be able to say. I felt so blessed to have two healthy babies when so many other parents had experienced completely different outcomes and long, arduous NICU journeys.
Because of this, in those first few weeks of motherhood, I felt guilty. Guilty that I was a mom when so many others were still battling infertility. Guilty that my birth hadn’t gone according to plan. Guilty that, due to a rough recovery, I wasn’t able to soak up every solitary moment with my twins when they were born. Guilty that I couldn’t do it all alone. Guilty that l had to relinquish control and accept help from family when I landed myself back in the hospital due to postpartum hemorrhage. Guilty when I had moments where I was sleep-deprived and cranky. Guilty when I didn’t know what the hell I was doing as a mom. After all, our babies were finally here. Wasn’t this what we had been praying for and working towards for so long?
What I realize now that I didn’t realize then is this: while going through infertility and a high-risk pregnancy made me a more resilient and grateful mom, it didn’t make me immune to the ups and downs of early motherhood. I mean, I had two babies at once! You would think I would have cut myself a little bit of slack, especially after everything my body had been through in the last year.
Now, as a working mom, there’s a whole other added layer of guilt. But now that I’m out of the fog of those early postpartum days, I’ve learned to accept that those feelings are just part of motherhood, a club which I know I'm extremely fortunate to be a part of.
Do I still feel mom guilt now and then? Of course. But I know now that it’s only natural to feel that way sometimes, and I don’t beat myself up about it. It all stems out of love, after all.
So to all of my mamas out there, whether you are a working mom, a stay-at-home mom, a work-at-home-mom, a new mom, or a seasoned mom, know that some amount of mom guilt is normal. No matter what, you are all superheroes in my eyes and in your children’s’ eyes.
And to all those of you who are still in the wait to become a mom, I see you, and I'm rooting for you. Your time will come, and when it does you will be 100x stronger and more grateful for it.
Kristyn Hodgdon lives in Island Park, NY with her husband Dan and their 10 month old boy/girl twins, Brooke & Charlie, who were conceived via IVF. After struggling with infertility, Kristyn founded an online community called The Fertility Tribe (www.thefertilitytribe.com) to give a voice to all things fertility, pregnancy, and motherhood after infertility. The Fertility Tribe’s mission statement is, “Redefining Fertility Together,” because honestly, who can do it alone?! Follow @thefertilitytribe on Instagram to join in on the conversation!