יום שני, 23 בינואר 2012

singlehood to motherhood: Back to Basics

singlehood to motherhood: Back to Basics: For most of my adult life I worked in real estate. There are many perks to being self-employed; the hours, the flexibility, the indepen...

Back to Basics

For most of my adult life I worked in real estate.  There are many perks to being self-employed; the hours, the flexibility, the independence. The downside of course is the lack of steady income.  If you are not good at time management or self-motivation it can be really tough.  This is why, industry wide, there are always seminars on how to manage your time effectively, how to attract and keep clients, how to stay focused and how to survive rejection.  As I write this, I think maybe this is how I survived the fertility process. You get pretty thick skinned selling real estate, especially in the low interest rate pre-bubble Manhattan market of the early 2000's.  The process is humbling, frustrating filled with intense highs and lows.  Actually, this applies to both residential real estate and the business of making a baby.

One of the things all the real estate and motivational gurus had in common was that no matter how successful you are, focusing on the basics is what keeps your business going, the ABC's or Course 101, if you will.  They all said that if you kept doing the basics consistently you would achieve your goals. They were right.

Recently, I have been speaking to several women who are just beginning their journey to motherhood.  They spoke of their very real fears and concerns. What struck me is that they all spoke of what to do if the baby is sick and they have no one to watch him, of not being able to go out at night, of the lack of sleep etc. I too, was anxious about these things. But the more I listened the more I realized they are getting ahead of themselves.  They need to go back to basics, back to "A".

So much will happen before the baby is born. So much will happen before you are even pregnant.  Not only are you going through the physical process of getting pregnant, but you are gradually becoming a person who will be a mom.  You are focusing on another person who isn’t even a person yet. You are laying the foundation for motherhood. Like in real estate; it's pointless to worry about what property values will be in five or ten years if you are planning to buy now. First you need to be approved for a mortgage, and then look at properties, negotiate the sale of the home you love… you get the picture.

The process, for most of us is long. What helped me was to think of that wise Alcoholics Anonymous slogan, "one day at a time" (It seems I'm big on mantras).  It is important to think of all the "what ifs and how will I manage" but then focus on the task at hand and take baby steps.

יום רביעי, 18 בינואר 2012

singlehood to motherhood: In the beginning

singlehood to motherhood: In the beginning: If you're anything like me, I thought that eventually I would meet "him" THE ONE. Well I did, but it turned out he was TEMPORARILY the on...

In the beginning

If you're anything like me, I thought that eventually I would meet "him" THE ONE. Well I did, but it turned out he was TEMPORARILY the one. After a painful divorce and lots of therapy I went back to the dating arena. One day I woke up and realized that all this dating was just that.... going out on endless dates, sometimes it turned into a relationship but never for very long.

Around the time I turned 40, I was living in Manhattan, working in real estate and having a great time. I'm not sure what motivated me, but I made an appointment with a fertility specialist to see how viable my eggs were and also to find out more about freezing them.

The doctor told me they were "juicy". Only now as I'm writing this do I think how I tell my girls all the time that they're so juicy… is this Freudian???!! He told me that freezing was invasive, expensive and the results were not yet known. He advised against it. He also told me that my "juiciness" would very quickly deteriorate.  $600 later I felt like I had made a move towards motherhood and continued with my life. Looking back, I guess this was my first baby step towards motherhood.

After another failed relationship, I woke up to the realization that my 43rd birthday was days away. I made an appointment with an OB-GYN who specialized in fertility. The whole process took two years which included two doctors, four failed IVF attempts, hope and expectation coupled with a huge dose of fear, frustration and trepidation. As each appointment led to new tests I was moving closer to a realization of how strongly I wanted to become a mother. It is said that nine months are needed to prepare oneself emotionally for a baby, apparently I needed the full two years….and even then I wasn’t fully prepared. When the blood test revealed I was pregnant, I was thrilled.  When I realized it was twins I went into shock. It took me a full four months to absorb that I was going to be a mother of two and I was terrified. Logical questions arose from my fear, how would I afford two children, would I be able to manage on my own, emotionally and physically, with two babies? One seemed barely manageable- two seemed completely insurmountable. When the doctor told me I could reduce, I thought about it for five minutes… and then it occurred to me that G-d only gives you what you can handle. It's corny, I know, but this thought helped me then and keeps on helping me as time goes by. On days when my daughters are either whining or crying, sometimes in synchronization, and the phone is ringing, and their dinner is burning, and I'm about to seriously lose it, I think of this… G-d only gives you what you can handle.  And I take a deep breath and calm down, no drugs needed. I know deep down that I will manage.

Just a little about me; while I'm quite traditional, many who don’t know me might think otherwise. I have always had "edge" as a close friend once told me. I have always moved in many different circles simultaneously and to some extent it's great to be so adaptable but deep within me, it has tended to blur who I am, at my core and where I want to be in my life.  One thing that was always clear to me was that I knew I wanted a family. I really do believe in the chain that leads from our past to our future. I never spent much time thinking about how that would come about. I never sat and read on the internet (OOPS!! In 2001 I got my first computer!!). I'm not one who sits down and writes a list or makes a five year plan. It wasn’t that concrete. But I was moving towards it.

The hardest part was committing to the process.  I truly believe I went through the five stages of mourning because I was mourning... the loss of the illusion that "mommy daddy and baby make three". It took a LONG time to realize it wasn't happening and the damn clock was ticking furiously.  At some point all my doctor's appointments gave me the two best presents I ever could have dreamed of. Not a day goes by that I don’t thank G-d for this blessing.

And even though I had very supportive friends and family, I still felt completely alone.  I really wanted to have other women who were going through  this crazy procedure of shots, hormones, doctor visits, blood tests, waiting ten days for blood test results; to talk to, to consult with, to support and be supported by.

To those of you contemplating the very real and harsh realities of raising a child on your own and the sacrifice involved, I say embrace it, write a business plan, calculate the cost, the risks and make a pros and cons list... but keep in mind, that somehow things do work out. I know this isn't a concrete method or much of a detailed answer but I believe that its part of faith and faith isn't rational or logical. Finding that core of strength is different for each of us, but for me, the mantra really works.

There have been days where I lay in bed and cry in frustration, exhaustion, fear and loneliness that I'm not good enough, that I'm in way over my head, that I'm too rigid, too lenient, too demanding, or too flexible. The decisions are constant and endless and I live in constant fear that I'm "ruining" my kids. But ultimately, we're all "ruined" by our parents and I just hope and pray that I'm doing it well enough and that they turn out to be good, kind and caring people.

They are the greatest joy, blessing and the loves of my life. I still hope to meet a man and have a long, loving, and happy partnership. I hope to share my love with an adult man because the time that my kids adore me and want to spend every moment with me is fleeting and as it should be and I am very aware of that. It is also not your kids' jobs to fulfill you in the way a life partner does.

I was not willing to give up on this because I didn’t have a partner. I hope if motherhood is a non-negotiable for you that you won't either. As difficult as it is, and it IS(!) it is also truly amazing and for me, totally worth it.

mes more than one, sometimes even a relationship but nothing "permanent". I realized that if I waited much longer I wouldnt have a baby... that damn clock was ticking and quite loudly. It took me a long time to break the illusion of "mommy daddy and baby make 3". I didnt want to be considered by others, but mostly by myself a "failure" that couldnt find a husband. If you're alone its easier to ignore this fact. Most of your friends are likely single and without kids as well so they are your family and you can insulate yourself from the "traditional families". Also, as an observant woman, there were issues... the community, my parent's community, the rabanut! How would they react? would my kids be accepted? I finally decided to see a doctor. I figured that wasnt a decision, just a step. Two years of steps brought me the most amazing wonderful special indescribable gifts. Shira and Maya. While in the process, I found the information almost endless, almost insurmountable, and confusing. A woman I know said to me the other night" I know I have questions, I just dont know what they are". That is exactly how I felt. Every time it seemed to be clear something else came my way. The information from doctors is spotty. Theyre busy. They generally dont hand hold. The internet provides general information but not country specific. Here in Israel there are some excellent forums and blogs but if your Hebrew isnt great its pointless. Or, like me, you feel like you do want a live person/people around you supporting you, hugging you, accompanying you...cheering you on, giving you a tushy shot, crying with you... This is why I created this service. Ive been there and Im here for you. It is a tough process physically and emotionally but the result is the most joy and happiness EVER. Wishing you success in your yearning for mothe