This is a piece written for us by a member of the infertility, loss, and adoption community on Twitter.
I hope you don’t hear us fight after we put you in your crib. The screaming at the top of our lungs should wake you up, but I suppose the white noise machine has multiple uses.
I hope you don’t hear all of the mean things we say when we are mad at each other, unable to control the anger that built up over weeks of pretending we “let the little things go” instead of talking about them as they came up.
I hope you don’t hear us mention divorce—something I don’t think we would ever actually do—but I wonder sometimes, as I hear the laundry list of things I am blamed for during these fights, why my husband would want to be with such “an awful person.”
I hope you don’t hear us act like children younger than you are, fighting over the smallest of issues because we don’t know how to adequately express ourselves about the things that really matter.
The truth is that we fought before you were born. The heartbreak of dealing with the miscarriage and then learning to not lay blame on whose fault it was that we weren’t conceiving easily strained us; the fertility medications certainly did not help with my ability to cope. It only made my anger and yelling more fierce and stringent. Marriage is a lot like giving your entire self over to another person, giving them your nuclear codes. You share a close space with them, emotionally and physically. Your father and I learned how to push each other’s buttons and at some point in time, instead of learning how to disarm each other, we created an arms race.
When we finally learned that you were on your way, the hormones of pregnancy replaced the fertility drugs coursing through my veins—and I was still emotional, still sensitive, worried that you wouldn’t make it and join us out in the fresh air. You arrived under unsettling circumstances, an emergency situation. Your father was more supportive than I have ever seen him and he was in love with you.
The first three months you were home were challenging. There is a reason that sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture. It brought me to my knees, sobbing on the floor in the living room, in the doctor’s office, the one time I escaped to a coffee shop while someone else watched you. I knew I loved you and your father, but it became clear to me that I needed to love and take care of myself just as much as the rest of the family or else resentment would build to a beast that I couldn’t control. The baby blues turned into a deeper shade that came close to black. It was no longer just me coming down off the hormones of pregnancy, but the cycling of depression and anxiety that would simultaneously keep us all alive and make me question whether or not I was even supposed to be a mother.
As your father and I learned how to deal with each other while dealing with you the first year, the fights got louder, angrier.
“WHY AREN’T YOU LISTENING TO ME? DON’T YOU TRUST ME? THIS IS ALL I DO ALL DAY LONG!”
“I WAS JUST ASKING A QUESTION, DON’T I HAVE ANY SAY AS TO HOW MY CHILD IS RAISED? I AM NOT DOUBTING YOU AS A MOTHER!”
And we’d fight until we could get the anger out, the sobbing came for me. The muffled whimpers about how I was lonely and feel isolated despite having the privilege to spend all day with you—the one I fought so hard to have, the one I love just as much as your father. And I do love your father.
My wish is that while you are still small, language underdeveloped, your father and I will figure out how to talk to each other. We will find a way to discuss the small issues that represent larger things and be able to model that for you so when you grow up, you will seek out the same kind of relationship. My hope is that even when we are fighting, we will learn to leave the name-calling out of it, actively reminding one another that we love each other and have mutual respect for each other. My hope is that as you get older and our sleep gets better, we will all be more like those commercials on TV in which the children come in and happily climb into bed in the morning with their parents. I hope that I will be sleeping in our bed, instead of the one in our spare bedroom. I hope that the walls between your father and I will have come down a bit, and we won’t be fighting anymore about who was supposed to be watching you when you fell down and bloodied your lip.
Know this, though. None of our fights are ever your fault. You were wanted more than any child ever brought into this world. Your father and I love each other and we love you, too. My wish is that we will get this sorted out before you start to figure out that there is ever anything wrong. We will always have our conflicts; I am just hoping that you hear us talk things out instead of yelling at each other.