I Struggled With Infertility for Years. So Why Did I Feel So Guilty to Announce I Was Pregnant?
A funny thing that happens when you’ve been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant for years is that you get pretty used to it. You’re the odd man (or in this case, woman) out and you’ve had to endure many, many pregnancy announcements. Some have stung (‘How did she get pregnant? Didn’t she meet the guy 5 minutes ago?!”), some have been confusing (“Weren’t they about to break up?”), and some have been predictable (“Of course she’s pregnant. Her life seems to unfold like that!”).
Those of us who have battled infertility for a while get pretty used to watching O.P.P (other peoples’ pregnancy) from the sidelines. Sometimes we are excited by the updates, especially if they’re shared by a close friend. And, sometimes we’re gutted by the announcement — even when shared by a close friend. We feel complicated emotions. On one hand, we’re happy for someone we care about and on another, we’re super sad for ourselves. We don’t tell people this, though. That would make us sound crazy or selfish. So, we get used to being gracious and offering the appropriate level of “congratulations!” messages and then we quietly reflect on how it seems that everyone and her mother (literally) is getting pregnant but us.
There was a time a few years ago that women in my infertility community all got pregnant around the same time. We were all in this hormone-induced period together (comparing notes on injections, meds and treatment cycles) and then one by one, they stopped going to the fertility doctors and had babies. I felt left out and my infertility felt even more pronounced.
When someone in your infertility circle gets pregnant, the feelings that emerge are oftentimes more confusing than when a fertile friend shares the news. You sometimes think: How can I possibly be jealous or upset by someone’s good news who has been through so much? But, you can, my friend. You do. It’s okay.
I’m reflecting on this following the announcement I shared on the social channels for my website, Pregnantish, that my cousin is pregnant, as a gestational carrier, with our baby. (Basically my bun, her oven.) I was going to wait to share this update and then something strange happened: After I shared the news with a few close friends on Facebook, People magazine reached out and asked for an interview (having worked in media for many years, word spread fast!). Once that happened, I felt strange keeping this news from the people who have trusted me and have followed my infertility journey. I had to tell them. I wrestled with this.
Nothing about my story to pregnancy was easy. If there were an infertility competition, I’d do pretty well. Some have been at this longer than I have, of course; but not many people that I know have gone through as many treatments (18) or as many years (almost a decade) that my husband and I tried to have a baby.
The path to this pregnancy announcement was painful and complicated. I had open stomach fibroid tumor removal surgery, I’ve lost pregnancies and I had two surrogates drop out on me after I made peace with the fact that my body can’t likely carry a pregnancy to term. But, when my cousin Elana offered to do this for my husband and me, I suddenly felt like the luckiest person in the world. All of the years and tears seemed to lead to this moment now: I am expecting a baby in December with the help of my sweet cousin.
Now there’s a pregnancy announcement led by me and I feel elated and guilty. But, this time I’m not feeling guilty for feeling badly about someone else’s pregnancy announcement. I’m feeling guilty for possibly causing this feeling in others. I caught a Reddit thread where a group of women were talking about my news. They were very sweet and some felt badly for feeling bad about feeling bad about it.
Whoever they are and wherever they are, I want them to know that I get it. Don’t feel guilty for feeling slightly jealous or upset by my news. When someone finally gets something you’ve dreamed of, it’s tough. Period.
One thing that infertility does to many of us is that it robs us from yelling from the rooftops and posting cute innocent positive pregnancy test pictures. We have baggage and we know that the announcement is going to sting for some people we really care about. So, some of us stay pretty mum about it.
Does this mean we can’t celebrate and marvel at the update? Of course not. But we may not over-share either. It’s a complicated reality that only my infertility sisters will understand.
Moms Describe Trying to Conceive in Just 3 Words