I'm blessed with an amazing 9 year old step-son. Master L is a constant delight. Yes, right now he is a 'tween' with superhuman eye-rolling capabilities, but he is also a sensitive, funny and creative little man. He is desperate for a sibling (ideally a couple of each kind, please...no pressure!!). Master L has been at us about when we are going to produce this tribe since before we got married!!
This is wonderful - we are lucky he is excited about the idea of a sibling, rather than concerned for what it might mean for him no longer being the only child. I am sure elements of that will come but he genuinely loves babies, and is constantly talking about them.
It's also a hard thing. Initially we felt able to talk about wanting a baby, thinking it would happen soon. At first the careful thought process was to encourage his talk of a sibling as a positive thing. We were able to discuss what might change and how Master L could be involved in his coveted role as 'Big Brother'.
But years have passed with no baby....that feels like a long time for us but its an eternity to a nine year old! The enviable questions about why it is taking so long have started.
Challenges I’ve found balancing IVF and older children:
I think this is am important topic that can often be overlooked. Infertility is often something people automatically mistakenly assign just to couples who do not already have children.
Secondary infertility is common and is as heartbreaking as primary infertility for couples.
I also meet many people who, like me, have become part of a blended family and are juggling being a step-parent with the dream of having a baby.
I've had some interesting conversations with parents about how to handle your fertility challenges/IVF cycles with older children in the mix!
IVF is very involved. You have set medications/injections to take at set times. Some require you to lie still for patches of time afterwards. There are operations. There can disappointments and, as in my case, crushing pregnancy losses.
It’s an exhausting, emotional process. Honestly it can be all consuming at times.
When you have a child already just giving into that is not an option - you still need to be a parent first.
Try as you might it can be a tough juggling act to hide this process from inquisitive older children, or small toddlers who don't understand why you can't give them attention right that second.
My advice to manage the IVF process/older children-balancing act:
- Get help! Lean on your partner and/or close family/friends who you feel comfortable knowing you are doing an IVF cycle. Advance plan a roster, so that others are there to take the kid(s) when you have procedures, medications to take and to give you time to rest. You don't have to be superhuman - that only leads to stress.
- I pre-plan my medication timing. Evening injections are done once Master L is in bed. I get up earlier that usual for the morning meds, then head back to bed if I need to lie down and use that time for my daily meditation.
- Come up with a simple cover story for older kids. It can be harder to hide that you are taking medications and having operations, which provokes questions and sometimes worry that you are sick.
- Go easy on yourself. You might/will be more tired and grumpy than usual – you’re putting your body through a lot and (even without the hormones) looking after small people can sometimes be very demanding. You are human!!
- Get all the required elements in place (meds, extra rest, appointments) then use the kids as a great distraction! Let them bring you into "normal life"- it’s hard to obsess/put life on hold when you have someone who needs your help and attention!
What are some of the challenges you've faced juggling IVF and other children? What are your tips for managing this?