Yesterday I had my first TTC-related panic attack. At least the first one in a while. It came out of nowhere, I don’t remember even thinking about TTC before it happened but suddenly I was drenched in a cold sweat, absolutely sure that our attempts to have another baby would be fraught with struggle and loss. I felt sure I wouldn’t buckle under the weight of whatever was in store.
When I relayed all this to Mi.Vida later that night, during our 10 minute check in, he held me close and assured me that we’d be okay, that we are strong, that we can get through anything.
And besides, we have Isa, as if that were that.
It’s true. We do have Isa. And while I can tell having her means something different for him than it does for me, I wonder how she will change things this time around. What will it be like to try to conceive when I already have. Will it be easier? Harder? Less nerve wracking? More difficult to manage? The truth is I’m not sure, at this point, on the eve of our TTC start date, I can only guess.
In some ways I reckon it will be a better, more positive experience. I want that very much and am going to put a huge amount of effort into assuring that I handle things more positively. Our first attempt at TTC was wrought with anxiety and conflict; it exacted a considerable amount of damage on our relationship, damage we’re just now repairing. Much of the negativity surrounding our first TTC experience originated with me and I intend to do everything I can to approach this situation differently.
I can already feel that some things are different. There is no longer that wild, untamed dread roiling inside me, I am no longer paralyzed by the fear that I will never be a mother. That fear, harbored my entire life, grew exponentially in the years leading up to our attempt at TTC until it became an uncontrollable force, frantic and furious, unyielding, wrecking devastation on my mental health and my relationship. There are few things I’m more ashamed of than the ways in which I let that fear overtake me. I was wholly consumed and what was left of me was only a shell of who I really was, of the woman my partner loved.
That fear is gone and, as you can imagine, the effect is remarkable. Surely this experience will be better if only for that. With that wild, uncontainable beast at bay, I have faith I can manage my trepidation and dominate my doubt.
Yes, being a mother will help my cause greatly, as I assume will the actual act of mothering. My previous months TTC were exacerbated by my irascible impatience. I had been ready to start mothering for years and any further delay was more than I could bare. Now I have a daughter on which to dote and I hope that her presence will serve as a distraction, taming my once irrepressible impatience.
I also must admit that having my daughter has taught me that motherhood is not all rainbows and unicorn flatulence. And while I can’t accurately fathom how challenging caring for two children will be, I’m aware of the fact that it will be exponentially harder than I’m expecting it to be. Reminding myself of the ordeals we are sure to face with two children will probably do as much to temper my impatience as my daughter will be.
Yes, I believe for me, this experience will be different from the first. The fact that I was able to handle pushing our TTC date back by six months without totally losing my mind (as I would have done the first time around) is a testament to how things have changed. With my desperation subjugated and my impatience muted, I hope to weather the storm of TTC with considerably more style and grace. In fact, I hope not to look on it as inclement weather at all.
Of course, not all the pressure is gone. While I am unequivocally a mother, I don’t consider my family complete. I want very much to have two children and I’ll admit there is an age gap I consider desirable. Even if I succeed in evicting these qualifiers from my mind, I will see them all around me. Almost every child that Isa teeters up to at the playground will have a waddling mother in tow. I will be reading of other bloggers completing their families in much the way I hope mine will be completed. Despite my best efforts comparisons will be made, months will be counted, and panic will begin to creep in.
Honestly, the months of timed sex and BBT charts stacking themselves up indefinitely isn’t want sets my teeth on edge – the thing that sends me reeling is contemplating another loss. Because the truth is, losing another pregnancy is something I’m not sure I can handle, at least not with any measure of competency. And if I’m thrown by pregnancy loss into the immeasurable depths of despair, it’s not just my partner that suffers, buy my daughter as well. The idea that I might not be able, or willing, to care for my daughter during a time, or multiple times, of loss, is truly terrifying. And when the fear of TTC comes over me, it’s the fear of loss that is able to sink it’s teeth in and not let go.
Uncertainty is something I strive (and fail) to accept in my life. The first time we were TTC the uncertainty of the outcome overwhelmed me. My entire identity was at stake and not knowing what would happen took me to the brink and I thought many times of just stepping over the edge. Trying to have a second child I feel faced with less uncertainty, but uncertainty all the same. I’m no longer unsure I’ll ever be a mother. I am not as distrustful of my body’s ability to carry and birth a child. But I’m still not sure I will have the second child my heart so desperately craves. The shape and size of my family is yet to be determined. And of course the path I will journey to reach that family is completely unknown. My trepidation is understandable, especially considering the journey of my mother, and those of other women in this community, that I look to as guides. I just have to keep reminding myself that my story has not been written and if I spend my time filling the blank pages with tragedies that haven’t happened, I’m only setting myself up for unnecessary suffering. Life’s filled wth enough hardship already, there is no need to conjure misfortune when it hasn’t happened yet.
So I will wait. And wonder. And hope. And keep taking my B6 vitamins.