Does having an IVF baby change your parenting?

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For most of my adult life I was a laid back, stress-free kind of person. Honest! So it is quite bizarre to me that as a mother I am more of a worrier than I ever could have imagined.

My pregnancy neurosis (following our previous pregnancy loss) evolved into a less stressful but equally real anxiety surrounding the well-being of our little boy. Now admittedly that is largely down to the fact that my son is a terrible feeder who would happily exist solely on air! Perhaps if he had a greater appetite I would stress less. However it doesn’t take a genius to realise that given our history and the fact that my son is the product of IVF, I view him as even more miraculous and special than perhaps I otherwise would. I wonder how many other women feel that their parenting is influenced by their route to motherhood. Do the challenges faced in conception impact on the way we view our IVF babies?

Most couples with an infertility problem wait for a long time and undergo lengthy procedures before they finally get their much-desired baby. In recent years, several studies have been published comparing the parent–child relationship and the child’s psychosocial development in families with children conceived by IVF and families with naturally conceived children. The results are not conclusive, and most of the measures in the studies revealed no significant differences in the quality of the parent–child relationship between IVF families and families with naturally conceived children. However in my experience I certainly feel both that little bit more blessed and scared that I have my gorgeous baby.

Unless the IVF has nothing to do with it. My dad is totally neurotic and over-protective so I could just take after him!

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Three Visits

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We have just returned from our first family holiday to Israel. As we walked down the beach with our baby in his pram I couldn’t help thinking back to the last two visits I made to Israel.

The previous one was in October, I was 20 weeks pregnant and while I was incredibly grateful to be pregnant I was also extremely anxious about the outcome of my pregnancy. As I looked out across the sea I thought to myself ‘I hope I have a baby on my next visit’.

The trip prior to that was last March two weeks after the loss of our baby and it was a bleak and miserable time. I was unsure what the future held, when I may be pregnant again and how I would cope with the heartbreaking loss.

What struck me was how different life was on each of the three visits and how quickly and dramatically things can change. You may feel like things are not progressing on your journey to parenthood, or you may have had a loss that seems crippling. This time next year things may be very different.

Countdown

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Time seems to be moving at a painfully slow pace. I have an app on my phone that displays a daily count down. Today it reminds me that there are 18 days to go – under 3 weeks. As if I need reminding. I am a professional day/week counter now. 18 days may seem like a remarkably small amount of time but I am a phenomenally impatient person. Waiting for the IVF to begin was torture. Waiting for the anomaly scan was pure hell. So you would think this should be a doddle!

I am well aware that we are on the home stretch. The finish line lies ahead. But my apprehension and desperation to get this baby out safely is astonishing. I have a horrid feeling that the baby will be later than my due date and then I will be climbing the walls!

Those with children remind me to enjoy the calm before the storm. To rest and relax. But I don’t want to, I want my baby here safe and sound so that the pregnancy anxiety is over! We are so close now. But a niggling fear that we could still lose the baby prevents me from the excitement and relaxation I should be experiencing. Come on time!!

Mind Reader

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Wow she took the words right out of my mouth! After enduring the heartbreak of three miscarriages Emmerdale’s Adele Silva is finally looking ahead to the birth of her first child, despite her past traumas having made her cautious. Like me she is less than six weeks away from welcoming her first child and like me she has found that suffering previous baby losses, three consecutive miscarriages in her case, has stifled the potential joy that comes with making last minute preparations for the new arrival.

Here are some of her feelings which she shared in an interview with Lorraine Kelly.

‘As soon as I got pregnant again I had this massive plan of action on what action to take, stages to go through and so on, so each stage has kind of been bittersweet because although you’re like “brilliant I’ve got to this point” or “brilliant I’ve got to that point” you’re still not completely out of the danger zone.’

Work Wind Down

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This is my last week of work before my maternity leave commences. I can’t really believe it has come around, but then again I can’t believe that any of this is real. So while I am excited to have some feet up time, as my teaching job is fairly active, it feels very bizarre. During my last pregnancy I got so ahead of myself thinking of maternity leave, the birth, the nursery and life with the baby. This time I am never thinking more than a week ahead as I don’t want to take anything for granted. That is why people who ask me about events that are more than a week or so ahead get met with a slightly panicked expression or a total dismissal. Family and social events in the future are so abstract that I can’t even imagine them. Thinking that far ahead makes me extremely anxious and it brings up all my fears that the happy ending we are desperate for will be cruelly snatched away once again. So for now I can’t commit to  anything beyond the imminent future. It’s just too damn scary.

Work has provided me with sanity and a much needed distraction from the consuming nervousness which may have prevailed. Let’s hope that the final work free weeks are not too slow or anxiety ridden. Who am I kidding? I fully expect a few freak outs!

Scans Glorious Scans

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So I caved again. I decided that the wait for the final scan (scheduled for 37 weeks) was too far off and I needed some reassurance that the baby was well. So yet more money was spent on yet another neurotic moment. However, as I told my husband, surely my peace of mind is priceless. Aptly named the reassurance scan, it did just that. Thankfully all is well and my fear that the placenta had been failing or was detaching from my uterus lining were unfounded. The little one looked well, has hair and is in the head down position ready for action. Now I must just plough on through the remaining 6 weeks. Not long now…When will I actually believe that there might be a baby?

Time For Action

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I am reluctant to accept that a baby is coming. I just won’t believe it until I have a healthy baby safe in my arms. Recently people have kindly urged me to pull myself out of my denial for a moment and order some baby stuff. I always said I wouldn’t order a thing prior to the babies arrival but in a moment of insanity/sanity my husband and I went out and ordered everything! Cots, prams, baths, car seats and so much more. None of it arrives until week 36 weeks so I don’t need to deal with a flat full of stuff for 3 more weeks. However next weekend my husband is going to wallpaper the nursery. The whole thing is pretty terrifying.

It just feels as though I will soon wake from this dream and there will be nothing. No baby. Just a fantasy I indulged in.

1 Year

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My last pregnancy lasted 21 weeks. This one has been 31 weeks (so far). So I have now been pregnant in total for a whole year, with, as of yet, nothing to show for it. So when I say I am eager for this baby to arrive I really, really mean it! The pregnancy has been filled with plenty of stress, anxiety and fears and they will not end until I have a healthy baby in my arms. So time, please hurry the hell up!

I Hate To Sound Smug

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I really I don’t want to be smug and offensive to all you ladies who are desperate to be pregnant. I have been you. I know how shit it feels. I also know how it feels to lose a pregnancy you have worked so hard for. So please don’t begrudge me mentioning the milestone that is reaching my 3rd trimester. I am so thrilled to be at this stage and now I am feeling increasingly, yet cautiously optimistic, about actually having this baby.

We had a scan this week. It was wonderful to see the baby looking bigger and we had some amazing 3D images of the baby. We have now been discharged from Fetal Medicine. The doctor said goodbye with the words ‘see you during your next pregnancy’! Woah.

Here’s too a quick and uneventful 12 weeks.