How IVF has changed the way I parent

When Australian netball champion, Liz Ellis, faced infertility she was shocked by how she changed

Former Australian Diamond / July 18 2018

I love being a parent. Mostly. Maybe not so much at 3am when my son calls out, “Mummy” thirty seven times and I stumble into his room after navigating the Lego-and-Thomas-and-his-really-useful-crew-strewn path from my bedroom door to his only to have him sit up and say, 'Want Daddy” and I say, 'Mate, Daddy’s asleep and he got up to you last night so its my turn tonight!' And then, under my breath, 'FFS, go back to sleep!'

Other than that I definitely love being a parent. 

While I love it, my approach to parenting has changed over the years. When our first child, Evelyn, now seven, was conceived after just six weeks of trying and born after a relatively straightforward pregnancy and birth, I almost took parenting for granted. Sure, I gazed in wonder at her fingers, toes, mouth and nose and wondered where this bundle of perfection came from. But I also assumed she would be the first of three or four – despite the fact that I was in my late thirties when I had her.

When the clutch of siblings hadn’t arrived after nearly five years of trying, including every fertility treatment known to humanity and three heartbreaking miscarriages, I became a fearful parent. I was scared of what my daughter would think of being an only child, scared that something might happen to her and then I would be left with no children, scared that she would be lonely and resentful living on a farm with no brother or sister to play with. Just scared of everything really.

Then after we had given up treatment, and I was still scared of everything and now grieving the loss of the idea of more children, we discovered that we were pregnant with our second child. After five years of high-tech treatment yielded nothing but miscarriages and horrifically genetically compromised embryos, it was the low-tech method of plain old sex that saw our boy, Austin now two, come into the world.

His arrival saw me change my attitude to parenting again. I have ceased being scared and started being thankful. I no longer yearn for what I don’t have and am grateful for what I do. I know many people don’t have a happy ending to their fertility treatment, and I am conscious of that when I want to lose my s#*% over some toys left lying around or a mark on a wall.

Infertility has taught me patience and gratitude.  It’s taught me to live in the moment with my kids.  It’s taught me to tell my husband, Matthew, that I love him, not to assume that he knows. It has taught me so much, including that I have the strength to get up at 3am to try to talk my son into lying down and going back to sleep. Best of all it has given me the wisdom to know that if I have to lay down with him and smell his hair and hold his hands to get him back to sleep, then I am indeed a very fortunate parent.

 

Check out Liz's book, If At First Your Don't Conceive, here