Monday, November 18, 2013

The Guilt

Before I became pregnant, a friend of mine who struggled with infertility announced she was pregnant. If I am going to be completely honest, I feel more happiness when infertile friends get pregnant. Perhaps it is the (often silent) sisterhood that is formed between women experiencing this kind of grief. When this friend announced her pregnancy, I was so happy for her and for the first time in a long time, something clicked inside of me and I felt hope. As if her success could somehow rub off on me. 

Maybe I had reached that point in my journey that my sadness and despair had transformed into hope and belief that good things could happen to me too. That transformation didn’t occur overnight. It took a solid year of removing myself from the disappointments of trying to conceive and some monthly therapy to calm my nerves and focus on the positives in my life.

A couple of days after I got a positive test, I sent her a Facebook message to ask her a question.  I told her how much hope her pregnancy had given me and she said that she went through a guilty phase. At the time, I couldn’t understand why she would feel guilty! She said she made so many friends in the infertility community and telling them about the pregnancy gave her a lot of anxiety. Since I was about 2.5 seconds pregnant and feeling quite nervous about my ability to carry a baby, I hadn’t reached this stage. I was still shocked and amazed that this was even happening. 

Within the last few weeks, that guilt has crept in to my head. As I wear maternity jeans because my old jeans no longer fit and everyone that I am in regular contact with knows my news, I feel guilt. I feel like I don’t want to talk about being pregnant openly because I don’t want to hurt anyone. I know the pain all too well. I know how it feels to hear someone talking about the baby growing inside of them and feeling that ache in your heart because you want it so bad. I guard my conversations because I realize how much of a blessing this is and that everyone who wants to experience it may not get a chance. I ask the question, “why me” when there are others out there that deserve it too. 

But I can’t control that. As I have learned over the past 3+ years, my reproductive struggles are not the “fault” of others. Why miss out on my joy and happiness? I have to be true to myself and for me, that means remembering my past, recognizing the pain of others but ultimately living my life and being a model to those who haven’t reached that point of hope and belief in good. I can look back and remember getting the news that this friend or that friend was pregnant and as much as I cried and mourned my own “loss”, I always made a point to share in their happiness because walking on eggshells isn’t fun and I didn’t want anyone to do that on my behalf.

I want to share my experience but I don’t want to hurt anyone. I have this past that makes me so much more sensitive to the world of pregnancy and I wonder if it will carry over to motherhood. Will it always be with me?


Sara said...

Beautiful post. Yes, it will always be with you. Going through infertility changes you and changes the mother you become - in a good way. You will be much more patient than you otherwise would have been. You will be eternally grateful for everything (including dirty diapers and spit-up and the many many sleepless nights). You will be humble. You will be brave. You will be a better mother for your struggle. I truly believe that happened to me. I can't tell you how many middle of the night rocking/feeding sessions I sat there and cried because I was so grateful to have that tiny baby I'd been praying for for so long, even if he was being a total brat. :) The guilt will subside, but the sensitivity and empathy will always be there. That's a good thing.

Amy said...

Thank you for sharing. Unforutnately, it may always be with you. I have friends who have had success after IF and it still stings them when they see a pregnancy announcement.
Know that you are human and that is ok!
I think that is what makes us women who have struggled with IF, we are sensitive and more aware of these announcements. While I would never wish IF on anyone, it does make us special.

Heck as I head into our IVF cycle, I am feeling guilty that we will be successful where I know women who have done several IVFs w/o success.

Wishing you a happy and healthy pregnancy. :-)

Patty said...

So I randomly, miraculously got pregnant earlier this year (only briefly, it lasted for 4 days). Within seconds of experiencing the pure shock, joy and excitement of seeing the positive, my reaction turned to guilt. I thought, "How can I tell Michelle (and some other names)? It's not fair, they started ttc first, it's not my turn yet." It's a hard thing to be the person causing the heartbreak we've experienced over and over again in this sisterhood. As irrational as it is, I think it feels like success is some kind of betrayal, like you're leaving the rest of IF peeps behind and even more isolated as the pool of those are share the experience gets smaller. But I think it's true that it will always be a part of who you are. You don't forget. You don't move on without looking back and disconnect from the pain of those who are still struggling, the pain you've carried around for years. It's a part of who you are. A part of who we all are, forever.

Your first paragraph is spot on. Yours was the happiest I've ever felt about any pg announcement, ever. First, it came shortly after we started a series of iui's, and the hope I felt with that timing was huge, exactly like your success was going to rub off on us. Second, IF has connected us and given us the chance to become more empathetic and sensitive towards each other- and I can FEEL your joy and know you appreciate everything in a different way than the rest. I want to vicariously feel every ounce of your happiness in whatever way I can. So I hope you soak up and revel in your joys as much as possible. Shout it to the world if you want to! It's high time you had the privilege of getting to do it.