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To “Mom” or Not to “Mom”

Posted Oct 22 2012 12:00pm

Welcome to our open salon, hosted by yours truly and Pamela Mahoney Tsigdinos, author of Silent Sorority . We created this open salon to discuss both sides of the motherhood debate from our unique perspectives (me as newly pregnant after donor egg IVF, she as one of the leading childfree authors out there) in a responsorial fashion between our two blogs.

Over the next five days and culminating in an open Twitter discussion #ALIMomSalon this Friday at 12:30pm EDT, we seek to parse out the concerns and vulnerabilities of transition within the ALI community without tripping over political correctness and delicate sensibilities.

We hope you’ll join us every day this week and will be inspired to add your own responses in the comments here and at Pamela’s blog and even by writing your own blog posts about this salon too!

This past Saturday, I was called a mom for the first time. It was in front of a group of strangers; I was helping out at a Graco baby event at Babies R Us (summary post forthcoming on the #GoTeamZoll page). I was introduced as “Keiko, a new mom-to-be through IVF.”

I had this incredible desire to shoot my co-host this look of horror, as if to say, “What are you doing?! Don’t you know they can hear you?! You can’t say that! They’ll hear you!”

But I didn’t shoot her a look. I just stood there with a dumb grin on my face and waved hello to the crowd before showing them the 8 different clickable positions of this awesome Graco carseat.

I felt like an impostor.

(I’ll talk more about this on Wednesday and possibly even at a guest post at the PAIL Bloggers website soon, too.)

Is it REALLY possible for infertility patients to park with confidence into pregnancy and motherhood?

In the middle of my day, I got a phone call with an update on my third beta and my official first ultrasound date. I immediately thought: “Sweet! I should blog about this.”

And then I simultaneously thought: “Shit. I have to blog about this.”

Ever since finding out I’m pregnant (even typing that seems weird) I have been dealing with survivor’s guilt, like I’ve somehow committed this grand betrayal at this sacred space – despite many people assuring me that a) what I’m feeling is normal and b) that I should celebrate this moment. And despite everyone’s blessings and well wishes, I still feel like I’ve wandered into such unfamiliar territory with absolutely no map.

When I say I spent days on my pregnancy announcement post, I’m not kidding. I actually sent drafts to four very close, trusted confidantes and spent almost an hour on the phone with one of them discussing options. What you read a week ago was legitimately my tenth attempt at crafting that post. And even then, despite my efforts to be both joyful and sensitive, I still couldn’t help but squeeze “I’m sorry” in the silent spaces between each word.

Pamela Madsen, a dear colleague and mentor of mine, noticed this right away:

You would think that her announcement would just be one of happiness and joy. A moment of personal victory – pure and stand alone in it’s beauty. But it wasn’t just that. It was also filled with an undertone of apology for not failing. A careful dance of not wanting her hard won success to be a source of pain for any one of her readers that are still trying. ( Source .)

The biggest challenge, as I consider this idea of “to mom or not to mom” and motherhood in a post-infertile paradigm, it figuring out how to remain true to my identity, my blog’s identity and mission while still enjoying that for which I’ve longed for so long. I have seriously asked myself this question over and over since October 11th:

Can I still be The Infertility Voice AND a mother?

My gut says yes. My internal compass is unsure of how to proceed however, and there are few guides out there to tell folks like me and any newly pregnant infertility patient just how to cope and process. My purpose remains the same: to advocate for this community. But as I venture through this new context, as I add the label “mom” to my personal identity vocabulary, perhaps I can become a resource of support, compassion and advocacy for this transitory subset of our community.

I do believe it’s possible “to mom” and still be true to this community. And I hope you’ll explore this new identity with me.

Tomorrow, I’ll tackle the “non-mom” side of this coin and what it means when motherhood doesn’t happen.

Thanks for tuning in to Day 1 of our To Mom or Not to Mom Salon. Be sure to head to Pamela’s blog today as she talks about Dealing with the Mommy Waiting Room and share your thoughts in the comments below. And we have have inspired a blog post in you today, link up in the comments!

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