I am fond of saying that I have worked through all kinds of infertility crap and that there is all this healing going on and this is true, except when it isn't.

Today the world's cutest and easiest baby drove me to the brink, by being his bad old babyish self.  He got a little off schedule which ended up with him being inconsolable, hungry, screamy, and too wigged out to take the bottle that he really needs to calm down and be cute again.

I know in my head that that is his problem, and when I don't let it get to me I am all calm and Supermom-like. I am confident. I run the vacuum, I shush, I am patient, resourceful and tireless.  But today it got to me, because it got in the way of my treadmill time, and because I don't know why, and it got to me BECAUSE it was getting to me.

And that's where the infertility baggage hangover kicks in.  Because we made pregnancy happen, I feel the decision is all on me.  Negative voices in my head say: If having a baby is so HAARRRD for you, then why'd you do it?  Clearly you can't HAAANDLE it. 

Most people have the luxury of saying, well, we had sex and NOW look.  We're having a baby.  When it's hard, later, they can say: oh well, it's not MY fault we had a baby.  It relieves them from having to be perfect parents because they didn't ask for it.  They don't have to earn it.

Obviously this is all neurotic, but work with me.

Because we went so far out of our way to have kids, I always worried that because we clearly weren't physically qualified to get pregnant, maybe that was A Sign.  That we weren't also qualified to be parents, even though all the objective signs say we would kick ass at it.  And now that the baby is here that is true.  We are great parents, except when we aren't, which is about what you could say about anyone.

This makes me think of "Saving Private Ryan," which is a great movie with a crappy message.  Poor little whatshisname Ryan never wanted a bunch of guys to die in a godforsaken village in France just so he could be the only one of his mother's sons to come home from WWII.  He definitely did NOT need Tom Hanks telling him to "Earn it!" with his dying breath.  He probably was haunted his whole life anyway.

All of the important things in life cannot be "earned."  Love of ourselves, love of another person, a baby, health, friends, God's love, a productive life.  I can try to earn my husband's love by being nice and cooking him lots of things with spinach in them but that's not really going to make a difference in the long haul.  I can try to earn good health by exercising and eating the things I made for my husband with all that spinach, but it's no guarantee.

I have a baby, now, because of a lot of effort on our part and because God allowed it (that would be my take on it, yours is whatever yours is).  I didn't earn it.  If we are not good parents, if we are in fact "too old," or if it "wasn't meant to be," too bad.  We have a baby now, and no one is going to come take him away because we didn't "earn it."  If he is screamy and I have to cry, louder than he does, and walk around the house with him for a half hour – which turned out to be a decent replacement for treadmill time, anyway – and I feel strung out and incompetent and not in love with him, at all, that's normal for being a mom. 

And if I have gained 20 pounds on top of 20 other pounds, and I can't figure out why my husband still loves me when I can't bear to see myself in the mirror, I can't "earn" his continuing love and loyalty by keeping the baby longer than I want to. I'm not going to "earn" anything by trying to be better than I am: by hiding my true, needy, angry, flabby unwashed self from him.

No one is keeping track.  No one will say that I'm not "earning" it.

No one except me, of course.