Surviving infertility: parenting before children

When does a person become a parent?

When their first baby is born?

When they see two lines on a stick?

I think the exact moment is different for every parent, but for many people it happens as soon as they decide to have children.

That’s the problem with infertility. It’s undoubtedly one of the worst feelings in the world to lose a child — but when you’re a parent in your mind for years before ever holding your child in your arms, it’s an unseen, inward grief that I think very few people truly understand.

Before Pippin was born, we had been quietly trying to conceive for almost three years. It was one of the hardest times of my life. Constantly seeing one new baby after the next, watching everyone around me have children (often by accident!), yet having to appear as if it didn’t bother me — it was emotionally draining. I was genuinely happy for the new moms, of course, but at the same time I was impatient and starting to feel hopeless for my own situation. When would I finally get my chance?

Looking back, I could easily have fallen into depression. In fact, I was inches away from it at some of the hardest moments. It wasn’t until I changed my mindset that things started to get easier.

I shifted my perspective from thinking, “when will we ever have a child?” to thinking, “God will give us a child at some point and we have to be prepared.” (Obviously, I didn’t know for sure that God would give me a child, but when you pray you need to be certain that He will answer, so I kept telling myself over and over, “God will give me a child when it’s the right time,” until I had convinced myself.)

That change in perspective was all I needed. Instead of worrying about when it would happen, and obsessing over the latest treatments for infertility, I focused my attention on everything else that needed to be done. I thought long and hard about what I wanted for my kids. I looked deep inside myself and figured out what my innate parenting style would be, then read and researched whatever was necessary to put that style into practice.

I read birth stories and made my own birth plan. I read teaching styles and school curricula and thought about what I would keep or discard when it came to my children’s education. I learned about food and sleep. I learned about discipline and toddler behaviour. I looked into things that had been practiced for generations before being given names, like elimination communication and babywearing. I looked into the current health and safety recommendations that the older generations may not have known about.

I discussed absolutely everything down to the details with The Husband and merged his opinions with my own. Together, we made a plan. We had thought and discussed so much that by the time Pippin arrived, we were confident in our abilities as parents and didn’t let the opinions of others sway us from what we had decided was best for our children.

I also had the opportunity to study the Qur’an in detail. Now when Pippin hears a passage of the Qur’an in Arabic, I can tell her what it means. I can and have been teaching her Qur’anic Arabic so that she can one day understand Qur’anic recitation without a translation. I wouldn’t have had the time (or it would have been much more difficult) to learn the Qur’an myself if I hadn’t been forced to wait.

The way I saw it, through three years of infertility, God gave me the time to learn about all these things and compile them into my very own personalized parenting style, all before Pippin showed up.

These are just some examples of things that I did to fill the time before being blessed with Pippin. If you’re currently struggling with infertility, maybe this post gave you some ideas. The point overall is to make sure you’re prepared: more time just means you can be more prepared. After my change in mindset, I didn’t have time to be depressed. I was too busy parenting my future kids.

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