Even though some people are adamant that children will not change them, it is nearly impossible for them to NOT change you...or at the very least your lifestyle. Most people who plan on having children realize and accept this. Assuming you're not strictly referring to lack of sleep, lack of time, and divided attention, not all these changes are bad otherwise the human race would have ended long before I arrived! For those of you reading this that are parents, I don't need to tell you what those wonderful blessings are...the kisses and hugs you get are only a few perks that melt your heart!
I was one of those naive people who said children would never change me. The more I thought about it the more ridiculous and impossible it sounds! If I didn't want my life to change, then WHY did I want a family? Of course I wanted my life to change! After some more reflecting I think I meant that children will not change who I am....but realized my lifestyle would change. And after a bit more reflection, I realized my daughter didn't change me...my experience with infertility did...or at the very least changed me more than having a baby did. I can honestly say that I really believe had I not gone through the trials and tribulations of infertility and had children as planned on my timeline, I'd be a different mother and a different person....and I can't say that would be a good thing. While I can't prove this theory, I had a pretty good idea who I was before and after both children and infertility.
To try to put things into perspective: imagine something you want so badly with every fiber of your being but can't no matter how hard you try or what you do...so bad that if it were legal and you had no morals or conscience you'd consider killing for it. While everyone has different experiences, imagine it not feeling or being a very positive experience. There are alot of variable that go into what you perceive: support system, personality traits, how you are treated by others and outcomes are only a mere few. For example some people with cancer have a great support system and attitude while others have the opposite experience which is mostly despair. I'm not saying people who seem to have a better outlook have a walk in the park with their illness, but perhaps have different coping strategies that puts things into a different perspective. Much like cancer or any other disease or illness, infertility is life changing...in good and bad ways. For me, I think the most difficult part of infertility was people not understanding the impact and importance on my life and my happiness....often invalidating my feelings. I recently read an article written by someone who experienced both cancer and infertility (God bless them!) and she said her experience with infertility was more difficult. Her reflection was because cancer is so sadly commonplace these days that many people are better equipped to understand how to support you, what to say and what not to. Many people don't "get" and aren't sensitive to the feelings those of us with infertility experience and unknowingly say hurtful things and invalidate our feelings. You often tend to feel invalidated, de-feminized because your body can't do what it's meant to do, and insanely jealous that others have what you want so badly and so easily....and so many don't realize what a gift it is!!!! Experiencing and reflecting on these moments for so many years is what I believe changed who I am. While I may not be the funnest, most care free, and available person anymore, I have gained so many more positive traits. I am more sensitive to my own and others feelings yet have learned to have tough skin, I tend to think before I speak alot more, I tend to know "who my audience is" before I say things that may unknowingly be hurtful, I tend to be more compassionate and sympathetic....something simply (or not so simply) having a baby didn't cause me to do. Also, because I learned what really is important my life, how fragile it is and how hard it was to come by...at least for me....I have little tolerance for any unneeded drama and negativity. I take many relationships more seriously and value them more because I realize the importance and fragility of them...yet have had to bow out of some relationships because they were more draining and toxic than rejuvenating. I think that my daughter would always be number one and even without infertility I'd put her first and make decisions accordingly...but I have a totally different perspective on what's important in my life as a direct result of infertility. For that I am thankful. I don't think I would have realized this as soon, if at all, had it not been for my experience.
Any life altering experience is bound to change person. I realize not all traits I gained were positive as this was truly a traumatizing time in my life. My coping strategies could have been better but I played the cards the best I knew how at the time. I tend to trust alot of people less as a result of being let down by them, tend to hide my feelings out of fear of having them hurt or invalidated, am a bit more jaded, definitely frustrated, and resentful at times that we had to deal with this. The first step is to realize this...my next step is to change these feelings into more positivity. While my struggle with infertility doesn't define me, it has definitely SHAPED me. Change isn't always a bad thing. Everyone has some emotional baggage and how we react and change from it is different person to person. Change only shows you hopefully learned and grew as a person as a result of your experience. Regardless of what life throws at you, most people aren't the same person they were 10 years ago...I am learning to love my new skin as my personal evolution continues. I have learned that I may need to help friends and family realize, respect and accept, and learn the "new" me and hopefully they will love me for it.