Monday, December 29, 2008

It's not a race

Gail and I got into one of our big discussions last week in which Gail was insisting that with two moms in a family (with children arriving via any means), you inevitably end up with some form of competition, whether it is spoken or not. Maybe it's competition around who is most skilled at parenting, who the kid comes to for comfort, who is the "real" mom, or if you are both trying for pregnancy (either at the same time or sequentially) who is more fertile. I was insisting that no, it isn't necessary to have competition, and that somehow we've avoided it for the most part, so if, as she claims it is unavoidable, what gives? Now, you might argue, this whole blog is about comparing the first time to the second time, about thinking our way through how switching uteri has impacted our family structure. But I stand firm that the bulk of this thinking and comparison is not competitive. Rather it reflects our ridiculously strong interest in the structures that underlie human interactions, and probably has something to do with being mathematicians. However, in the fertility arena, I think I'm wrong. Since that conversation, I've noticed that despite my insistence that we don't compete with each other, I do often compare this pregnancy to Gail's with Leigh, often with a competitive tone, and I think this has been going on for a while, without my noticing (and as you might note, I prefer to think I notice everything).

As I was wrestling my cycles into some semblance of order, I often thought (and talked) about how Gail had these beautiful clockwork cycles, and mine were crap (though Gail's weren't perfect either, she had a pretty crappy luteal phase--though that clearly didn't stop her). When I got my second BFN, I said to Gail (out loud) "Well, you won that one" (Leigh was conceived on the second try). When we started telling people about this pregnancy, they often asked how I was feeling, and then followed up asking how Gail felt first trimester with Leigh. My joking response was often "Well, I win the crappy first trimester prize." Sometimes people will ask more general questions about Gail's pregnancy and I'll say something like "Well, she was a pretty sparkly pregnant lady. It's a hard act to follow." I've already started comparing births, when we have ages to go before this birth. I'm already feeling caught between hoping and preparing for a birth that goes more smoothly than Leigh's, and worry that if it does, I will be invalidating what Gail experienced during Leigh's birth.

What's up with that? This pregnancy is what it is and will be what it will be. So no more fertility or pregnancy competition talk from me. I need to work on enjoying what is most likely my one shot at this, and quit measuring it against Gail's experience. The first way to do that is to stop "joking" about winning first trimester prizes.


Anonymous said...

As always, you're processing thoughts and feelings beautifully. If you're interested in a suggestion about being more gentle with yourself... here you go:

Comparison is entirely normal. It's how we make sense of the world around us. When you make the same recipe a second time, you compare if it came out as well as it did the first time. If this were your second pregnancy, you would probably compare it against your first. When the new child is born, you'll compare their sleeping and eating habits to Leigh's. So so normal.

Where it gets uncomfortable is when you find yourself putting judgment (some may call it competition) on those differences. If it makes you feel more true to yourself and your relationship to stop joking about winners and losers, by all means. But, should you find yourself competing, just a little, even just inside your head, be gentle with yourself. Just as comparison is normal, so is competition. Normal human instincts.

Hoping you get to start feeling sparkly soon, though!

Anonymous said...

another post that has me thinking. melanie and i definitely think about/discuss *our* pregnancy with our first and compare it to *our* current pregnancy but i don't think there's been much of a competitive tone about anything except who measured bigger at dfferent points in both pregnancies. and that's been totally playful really. hmmm, i'll have to ask her though...

Lyn said...

Thanks Bree and Amy -- Yeah, I think comparison is normal, and by no means has the competitive tone been vicious, but I definitely think the language used when "joking" can often point to some underlying stuff, and in this case, I think it does. Nothing major, but just something to watch, and something that may have been making me a little extra miserable while TTC (though thankfully we're through that part for now). I also think it's cute that I noticed it after (nicely) insisting that Gail was completely wrong for the better part of an hour.

Gail said...

Is this the part where I say I told you so? ;)