Thursday, November 13, 2008

IFers "vs" Pregnancy

No, no, no. This is not an "us vs them" post. But it IS a rambling of words about how some things are from someone (me) who had been on either sides of the fence. It's definitely not a "this is how an IFer should feel" post, but how I feel about such things, since I've been there. I'll break them up into specific topics.

~ Baby Showers ~

Ah, the dreaded baby shower invite. The envelope that can cause a sudden loss of cabin pressure the moment it's opened. I fully understand the pain this causes to someone ttc#1. I remember getting the invites when I was first ttc, when my cycle numbers were well into the teens.

At first I would get mad that someone could be so callous - ~knowing~ I'm dealing with infertility. Medicated cycles. Treatments. Surgeries. How DARE them send ME, of all people, and invitation to celebrate their pregnancy! I would suck it up and go, each time holding back the tears and hoping my looks of evil wasn't too obvious during the party. I wish I would have just bowed out. If they were a once IFer, they would understand. If not, they'd probably just think I was a bitch, but I would have to do what I had to do for me. It's called self preservation.

And then I got pregnant. I was getting my own guest list together to give to my friends and there were a few who were ttc and I didn't know what to do. And I have totally seen this in the blogosphere lately ... If I send them an invite, I'm rude. If I don't send them an invite, I'm rude for leaving them out. Yup, an absolute "damned if you do, damned if you don't" type situation.

I decided on going forward with the invitation. And best case scenario, I would talk to them personally before they received it. Telling them I'm inviting them because I love them, but also understanding I have no expectations of them to come. Of course they always attend after this conversation, so I don't know if talking to them does more harm than good. Now they know I know it's hard for them and they always try to be the bigger person. So it still sucks for them, but my heart was in the right place.

~Pregnancy Announcements~

I had been trying for just over a year and had my first surgery and medicated cycle fail when our very good friends (and next door neighbor) came over to tell us the good news of their "oops, we got pregnant from one try" pregnancy. I smiled, I hugged and then I closed the door and fell apart. I must have sobbed for the most part of the day. I even had to cancel the plans I had to help them out with a move that day because I just could. not. face. them.

After a day or so, I talked to both of them. I told them I am really happy for them, but it's just really hard for me to see. My tears were because I was sad for me, not angry at them. Their baby (actually babies, as they ended up with identical twins) was still a new life that deserved celebration, no matter how easily the parents fell pregnant. I simply cannot hold my IF hostility over a baby.

I told them I wanted to be a part of the pregnancy and would love to hear updates. But I also told them I may, in fact, cry. And if that happened, I may have to wait for another time to hear what's going on. And maybe on a good day, I will be full of questions. And a bad day, I may steer clear of the entire situation.

When I got finally got pregnant, I wanted to share the news with the world. It's a really hard thing to come to when coming from the infertility set. You almost feel guilty for even being pregnant, even if I went through hell to get there. But you come to the realization you just have to be sensitive to those around you. I'm sure I don't know everyone in my life suffering with some form of IF, so when we tell people our good news, we now how not to just throw it in someone's face. We know that our announcements need to be worded a bit differently, not just a sudden email full of u/s pictures.

The fertiles just wouldn't get this. Most have no idea how an email titled "guess what?" and the body a big "We're PREGNANT!" screaming out at you can really break the hearts of some. But what I keep in mind is they just don't know. And most importantly, I keep in mind that I should respond as I would want someone to respond the to news of my pregnancy. It's not fair to any preggo (yes, even the fertiles) to get pissed at their good fortune just because mine was in the crapper.

~General Pregnancy Stuff~

Being pregnant was something I wasn't clued in on when it happened. I had no idea how much it would consume my life. I had no idea that even after going through infertility, I would fall into the role of the women who I would totally roll my eyes at.

It's all consuming. My poor friend Laurel, I felt so bad. You would think after going through all I did for this pregnancy I would have a little more couth and be aware of my surroundings. I don't know how much of someone else's life I should talk about on my blog, but Laurel had a devastating cycle once and I ~know~ about it. Yet sometimes when I'm around her, I can't stop talking about baby stuff. Poor girl just smiled and took it until I finally caught myself, ~hours~ later. I'm sure she was chanting "shut up shut up shut up shut up" over and over in her head.

I'm a belly rubber too. And I HATED belly rubbers when I was ttc. I would complain "do they HAVE to rub their bellies!??! They do it just to piss me off, I know it!" yet it's something I continuously do. Like I said before, It's like a zit and I can't ~not~ touch the thing. Plus, later in pregnancy when you have appendages sticking out of you, well, it would be close to impossible to ignore it.

I also complain. This is a biggie I see in the blog world. "Why do they complain about pregnancy? Don't they know how lucky they are? I would do anything to have their aches/pains!". Yet, when you are here, it's somehow different. My pubic bone feels like someone hit it with a baseball bat. I can't sleep well. I'm awkward. I have baby appendages trying to poke through my skin. YES! I know I'm the luckiest girl in the whole wide world, but, it does have it's cons. I try to limit my complaining here, but just because the pregnancy was really worked for, doesn't make the pain feel any better.


I guess I'm just trying to show it from the other side. That a once-infertile can and will fall into the "just another pregnant chick" category without even knowing. So when you see a preggo act in a way that makes you want to punch them, ask yourself this ... "how will you want to be treated when it's your turn?" We're not all evil. I promise.

I wish I could act in a way that would make every IFer feel comfortable, but the fact remains that I am having a baby and it really does change things. I will always always always try to be sensitive, but sometimes, well, it slips. And I'm sorry. But I can bet you most every now pregnant infertile doesn't go a day without thinking of how lucky she is. We're just dealing with one of the biggest changes in our lives we have ever had the opportunity to experience.

Remember. Most of you will get pregnant too. And you'll want to experience the entire thing. No one wants to stay infertile. The happiness wants to get out, and it should. A preggo needn't live in fear, instead, it's the only opportunity to have the experience. Being happy is not a slight against their once infertility. That infertility will always be with us.


Ali said...

As someone who never experienced IF, I agree, I can't fully understand where those ladies are coming from. I do know now that I try to catch myself from saying too much. We have some friends who have recently been diagnosed as IF, and I find myself very uncomfortable around them, feeling as though I'm always about to say the wrong thing. As a parent of two little ones, I often joke that they are great birth control, since they are wild and unruly. As other moms out there know, sometimes you just want to pawn them off on someone else for a few hours. I can't imagine how that sounds to IFers - how callous! All in all, I just don't know how to act and I'm afraid everything I say about my kids will get taken out of context.

Morgan said...

I agree with basically everything you have a good outlook on it all, well on everything actually! :)

Hollie said...

ali - being sensitive is all you can do. You can't be perfect and say the perfect thing. You shouldn't feel uncomfortable around your IF friends. And your comment about pawning off your kids for a few hours would be funny to me and not callous. If you said you wished you never had kids and people who do have kids are crazy... that would be callous, and I'm sure you wouldn't say that. Don't be scared!

Nancy - Thanks for the beautiful and honest post. I really was going to post something similar. You summed it all up. I will try not to be a copycat, but it is on my heart to remind my IF friends that I do care about them, and I can't help being obsessed with my pregnancy.

tobacco brunette said...

Great post - I'm totally relating.

Another angle on the shower thing: I felt really guilty when all these women - whose baby showers I'd avoided when I couldn't hack them emotionally - showed up at mine and were so generous with their enthusiasm, support and gifts.

MrsSpock said...

We had been trying for over a year and were just starting the testing. I got an email saying, "I'm pregnant!" from a friend on a day I was supposed to go to a baby shower. It was like a punch to the gut. I canceled on the shower and stayed in bed and cried all day.

When I was planning my own shower, a close friend who had been TTC for 4 years had just had her 2nd failed IVF. I emailed and asked if she wanted to be invited. I didn't want an invite showing up in her mailbox and hurting her. She still wanted the invite, but couldn't bear to come to the shower, and I was OK with that. I think it's usually OK to ask someone.

I found out after I was pregnant that my close friends had been keeping back news of pregnancy announcements and shielding me in other ways when they thought it would be too much for me. I REALLY appreciated them for that.

By the way Nancy, I tagged you for a meme if you are interested.

Minxy Mimi said...

I think in some way I have seen it from both sides. Having first had a miscarriage, then infertility for over 1 year...then drugs to help me conceive (which I happily did) then a surprise pregnancy because I thought I would have the same issues and did not use protection. Ive felt the pain of infertility and then I felt the elation of being "fertile"

I decided in the beginning that I could either
a. dwell on my miscarriage and infertility and make everyone else uncomfortable around me...or
b. I could just attempt to be happy for others, and decide that being PG wanst the "be all, end all" for me. I could not allow myself to become that. I decided to adopt if needed.
I took to B as well as I could. I determined to be like my sister and not to feel sorry for myself, or let it consume me. *To me* it wasnt worth it. My sister is a wonderful woman...she is unable to have children, I was able...did she ever make me feel badly for being PG, or for being able to conceive? Never.
However, thats not to say I didnt have my crying days or my anger and depression...but I truly feel to dwell on our misfortunes is to do a disservice to us and our friends and family. JMHO

Jewels said...

Very Nice Post.
I feel sad as an IF'er because so many of my friends who were IF that are pregnant now don’t dare complain about their pregnancy, yet I dont look at it as complaining- It's still just all a part of the whole experience - and yet I'm deprived of going through that experience with them because they dont want to come off as complaining. Makes me feel sad :(

I think that women who suffer IF and are now pregnant - when they shair (Or complain) - I know that they are greatful to be in a place where they can complain. I dont ever doubt that.
If your pube-bone hurts - I know you’re grateful you get to have it hurt. It doesn’t offend me - but maybe it does others so I just shut up and read.

I think since I've experienced so many different sides of the fence, I'm more patient to the fertile myrtles out there and their ignorance, but I don’t discount how others feel and I try to remain empathetic. And I hope a day comes real soon I can appologize for forgetting what it was like to struggle or hurt - even for a few hours.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this post! I think it is how a many of us pregnant IFers feel. Everything we experienced before doesn't just go away. Great post!

Tara said...

Good post. I'm totally relating as well. I had no idea how much pregnancy would really change me. I could feel myself changing and tried to fight it because I didn't want to be one of "them".

But fighting it only made things difficult for me. I still want to be an individual but yes, I AM pregnant and I worked really long and really hard to get that way and I want to enjoy it. It may be the only time for me.

I had a really hard time enjoying my shower. Like Tobacco Brunette said, it was hard to see the women there whose shower's I had bailed on, supporting me despite. And also really hard to see the infertile who attended, sucking it up and trying to get through it.

As for complaining about pregnancy symptoms. I sometimes feel bad about that too, but it doesn't mean I'm ANY less THANKFUL for being pregnant. It's just that some things are really uncomfortable, or really hurt. And I don't want to feel like I need to suck it up just because it took me 3 years and $20,000 to get pregnant. On the contrary, I want to talk about it!

(Like MY pubic bone which ALSO feels like somebody hit it with a baseball bat - and I'm glad you said it because nobody else has and I thought I had some weird ailment).

Kaci said...

Great post. As a fertile I will never understand, but I do remember how much it stung when friends and my sister got pregnant once I was TTC. I put on a good front and went home and cried.

I like your thoughts about "how will you want to be treated" - and I think it works both ways. As a fertile (or the pregnant IFer) you have to put yourself in their shoes (or remember being there) when deciding how to handle situations too.

Mermaid said...

Well said, Nancy. I think you go out of your way to be considerate. As a not-yet-pregnant-infertile, I can appreciate your pregnancy more because you've been through IF and are so understanding. It's the pregnant people in my real world that don't know about my IF who are at risk daily for me pinching their heads off.

Sarah R said...

It definitely is a rough position to be in. Like you said, you're darned if you do and darned if you don't.

I am kind-of in-between--I'm definitely not super fertile have sex one time and pregnant, as Andrew took 7 cycles. But I'm definitely not infertile. However, I am really sensitive towards other people and their feelings and I try my best to keep them comfortable and not rub any sore spots.

Case in point--my SIL's very good friend has been TTC#1 for 5? years now. She's had failed IUIs, medicated cycles, you name it, she's had it. I think, but am not sure, she had 1 failed IVF last January.

We were visiting with my MIL because SIL (the one w/infertile friend) was in town. Her friend came over and Andrew was a couple weeks old. She couldn't even look at him and I felt bad because I could see the hurt in her face. I went into the other room to feed him because I felt like I was rubbing it in her face by staying in the living room. It is hard. I feel so bad for her, and I really wish it would happen. She is such a sweetheart.

Sarah R said...

I guess the biggest thing that has always bugged me is when people are super young, like teenagers, not trying AT ALL, and they seem to get pregnant so easy. Then they have these babies and their parents take care of them while they go hang out with their friends and party. I think that has to be the very toughest situation for an infertile to deal with. It seems that sadly, some people take getting pregnant for granted.

Lilith Silvermane said...

I do have a question for you Nancy... I might have made a Faux paus the other day and I'm a tad worried about it.

My sister is 30 and trying to have a baby, it is all she can think about and she and her husband can't seem to get pregnant.

I am 35 and have 6 kids, and like the last poster said... I took it for granted (until baby #5 when it took a little while).

However, I told her the other day if there were any issues, I'd be more than willing to carry a baby for her.

Now I am soooo worried that I might have said something wrong. She and I had talked about it in the past, and I was just reiterating what we had discussed, however now it might be an issue for her.

What can I do for her and any of my other friends that are trying? I read your post about "what not to say...". Now.. .I guess I'm looking for more advice.

Loves ya honey! You are a beautiful pregnant mama!

Starr Morgan said...

You are absolutely right. Before becoming pregnant I had all of those feelings. The shower invites, angry at pregnant women complaining about it, the 'oops, we're pregnant' announcements, the belly rubbing. I hated it all! Now that I am (barely) pregnant, I want to shout from the rooftops, and I think every single day how lucky I am to be here, pregnant, wondering how my baby is doing inside of me. Now that I am pregnant, I almost feel like a hypocrite when I comment on other IFer blogs, knowing they are secretly glaring at me because I have what they want so bad. I will always be an IFer, feeling jealous of those who "just have to look at their husbands and they get pregnant". Nice post, it really hit home for me. Oh, by the way, I added my IF journey on the side of my blog at your suggestion.

Geohde said...

I vividly recall a good friend *insisting* I hold her newborn baby when my first should have been due.

We actually both did fertility treatments and got pregnant at the same time, and I couldn't believe that she'd do that- it was hard enough to go to the hospital for the obligatory congratulations, but I did because she's my friend.

But to put the baby in my arms?


nancy said...

lilith, I don't think you said anything wrong. You were just letting an option be known. Now, if you said "take my kids for a day and you'll not be so hasty to have your own" THAT would have sucked. :)

BethH6703 said...

you & your devil's advocate ways!

I agree that a pregnant woman has every right to enjoy every moment of her pregnancy - I support it even.

But, I also support my own self-preservation needs. On days when I can't handle pregnancy or baby stuff, I click away, or screen calls, or whatever the situation calls for.

Good point in that it's all about attempting to think about how the other person feels. It's what we *should* all do in all interactions, but it's much easier said than done (like everything else, lol).

Nikki said...

Nice post Nancy. I can identify with the breaking apart on receiving pregnancy news from friends, yet smiling and hugging them and wishing them well.

But I must confess that I did much better in the first few years of my infertility struggles. I was able to be happy for people, and celebrate their news with them, go for baby showers, even help organize baby showers.

However, of late - more so in the last year, I find bitterness taking a bigger mindshare. I find myself saying the right things on their faces, but inside feeling completely bitter and "defeated". I know it's not a competition, but I feel like I lose each time someone else gets pregnant.

I have never been pregnant long enough to be in a position to be "on the other side" but if and when I do, I do hope to carry with me the feelings from the IF side, and be able to understand how any IF friend may be feeling.

Lovely post. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Nancy, my husband and i have been TTC #1 since Feb 02... we had 2 s/a in 06, not good... 1 more s/a in Feb 08 not good, referred to UR, varicocele was found and repaired in Jun 08... i had u/s in March to check my ovaries and uterus, all looks good... the post surgery showed some improvement... 1 million at 10%... was increased to 2.2 million at 30%... another s/a is scheduled for Jan... my GYN said he wouldn't put me on Clomid until the count was 20 million or more... i was put on BC in April to suppress my ovaries and regulate my cycle... i gained 8 days 22 to 31 days... this is my 1st cycle off BC, and it shows i O'd on CD 16... which is also an improvement from CD 8-10... we were told post surgery conception could take up to a year... Jan will be 6 months... i'm 34... DH is 36... when should we think about IUI???

Rachel Inbar said...

I appreciate the fact that you recognize that some of the things pregnant women do are not a product of being insensitive. I mean, you didn't say it like that, but you're obviously not rubbing your belly because you're insensitive...

nancy said...

Beth - I FULLY believe in self preservation! Clicking away, not going to baby showers. But I still whole heartedly believe the announcements and the invitations themselves shouldn't be scorned (if done the right way)

Anon, I don't think IUIs really add too much more chances unless the sperm count is low, which it is in your case. If you can afford it, I think the extra help moving the men closer to the egg is a good thing!

Chelle said...

I like this post, I am slowly taking the IF goggles off, so it will be interesting.

I really appreciate your support. You have been an inspiration because our cycles were VERY similar. (I think that little 5 cell is the one that made it!)

Thank you! ((HUGS))

JamieD said...

It's hard. I hate all those things only because I want to do them ~so~ bad.

I know when I am pregnant I will be over the top obnoxious.

Sara said...

Interesting post. There are similarities between women who suffer from infertility and women who suffer from the loss of a child. Some of the same triggers, so to speak.
Thanks for this post. I can relate, but in a different way.

Tricia said...

Clap clap clap. Bravo. Amen. I agree!

journey to junior(ette) said...

i'm reading this saying yes, yes, YES! thank you for publishing this very honest post about what it is to be pregnant after IF. i myself TTC#1 for almost 3 years and had 2 surgeries, 1 chemical pregnancy, and 1 first trimester miscarriage.

after an ugly disagreement on this very topic on an online forum that i frequent, at 26 weeks i decided it was time to pack away my survivor's guilt over my pregnancy and fully embrace it. and i have, and it feels so great!

Carrie Ann said...

The shower thing I can relate to. I was supposed to attend one the day after I miscarried. I called to say I couldn't come with some lame excuse and ended up coming clean a year later.

As someone with SI, I was very happy for my friends who are all very fertile (3-4 kids) and I didn't mind hearing about their pregnancies and stuff. I would get sad from time to time though. But now that I am pregnant, I think because of my experience I haven't been as vocal and outwardly happy about it because I am afraid I will hurt someone who is going through infertility.

Cate said...

Your post was exactly what I needed today, it's been a difficult couple days as my niece just announced her unexpected pregnancy. Thanks for being so awesome!

Anonymous said...

Nancy - Thanks SO much for posting this.

I think it's awesome when women like you are courageous and strong enough to share your personal stories and experiences with others. I don't know that I could do that if I were in your shoes; bear all my thoughts for the world to read. As someone who has never experienced IF, stories like yours have really open up my eyes to what it's like on your side of the fence. Even though you've been blessed with children three times over, you certainly have done your time as an IFer.

In the past, I NEVER used to think about things like 'trying' to have a baby. I got pregnant right away with my first. It’s a bit embarrassing to admit, but at the time, I knew NOTHING about TTC, charting cycles, infertility, etc. Heck, I was 22, and we just ‘got pregnant.’ Sure I knew the basics about ovulation and such. But I was not at all aware of the type of issues that can cause infertility. It wasn’t something I thought much about. The first time I got a glimpse into the pain of IF, was, in fact, toward the end of my first pregnancy. My husband and I told someone we knew that we were expecting, and she burst into tears on the spot. Little did we know her and her husband had been trying for years unsuccessfully to have a baby. They are still trying to this date, 5 years later.

As I stated, this 'trying' to have a baby thing used to be foreign to me. However, during this current pregnancy (#2) I've been a participant of TTC and pregnancy message boards, and have been reading blogs like yours. Interacting with different women through these channels has TOTALLY enlightened me. It really opened up my eyes, and I now find myself being more sensitive towards other women who may be struggling. It’s not that I wasn’t a kind or sensitive person to begin with (I’d like to think I am and always have been). But now that IF issues/pregnancy loss, and those type of issues are more ‘on my radar’ if you will, it has really challenged me to be more understanding, and to have a greater appreciation for what I have.

So thank you!

Amanda said...

I'd say you put it perfectly! At least IMO.

Io said...

Nancy, you know I think you rock. And I agree with everything you have said and all the comments. For the most part, I think the thing after IF is that the pregnant IFer is at least sensitive and thoughtful about stuff. And recognizing that if their infertile friend who is not pregnant is bitchy and bitter that it's not personal.

Anonymous said...

I think you look bigger with Allison then you do with Karl.

Anonymous said...

I think that you have forgotten what its like to be on the side of IF.

nancy said...


Sorry to disappoint you, but I still remember. But you have to keep in mind I had my own specific journey of IF. I tried for only 18 cycles before I coceived my daughter and my second was gotten quickly. The "real" IF I have felt was with my 3rd, when I went through surgeries, IUIs, IVF and FET. Although tough for me, I'm sure it was different than someone doing those same things for their quest for #1.

If you would refer to the very first paragraph of my post, you'd see I wrote "It's definitely not a "this is how an IFer should feel" post, but how I feel about such things". ~That~ is what I think ~you~ missed.

areyoukiddingme said...

My best friend and I were due about 6 weeks apart. Then I lost the baby. Then I got pregnant again and lost that baby too. 2 weeks later, I was at my friend's baby shower. I couldn't miss it, although she would have completely understood. I also couldn't tell her about the second baby lost, because I didn't want to ruin her joy in her pregnancy. I think sometimes we have to put our own issues aside and try to share the joy of others.

On the other hand, a week after I lost our first baby, my sister-in-law gave birth to twins. It took me a little while before I could visit without crying afterwards. My other sister-in-law was due a week or so before I was. Because she and my husband were not on good terms at the time, I totally resented her. But that started before I lost the baby, so it was not tied to our loss. It is certainly a difficult place to be.

I just wonder why the universe feels the need to present every pregnant woman and newborn to you when you're having difficulty conceiving. They're never around otherwise!

ssbean said...

Are you reading my mind?? I had a long comment typed out, but lately I've learned that maybe fewer words are better than the long drawn out ones. I will say that I totally agree with you on everything you said. I'm glad you posted it because as somebody who experienced some problems getting pregnant, I haven't been 100% sure what is acceptable to feel and think.

Not in the Water said...

HI Nancy~

I like this post...When I hear of yet another PG announcement I try to act happy. B/c it's not their fault.

BUT sometimes I wish my co-workers would realize that a 80 minute lunch constantly talking about babies...and how much they just want to run home to their little...or almost daily trips to Old Navy or BRU for baby stuff does kinda suck for me. I don't say anything b/c I need to understand it's part of their life now. But I just wish they would be a little more sensitive to me.


KimboSue said...

So I pretty much agree with all the IF'ers here so do have the words.

You’ve been tagged for a meme and granted an award on my blog. See today’s post!

Marie said...

Well said Nancy. Actually, being sensitive about the subject is a T more than most women woulddl do .... however, my motto is still " FERTILE PEOPLE SUCK" Only kidding .... < well, not really>

m said...

I love it when you break it down, Nancy. Great post.

In the privacy of my own home, I think I am probably the girl I wanted to punch in the face this time last year. Belly-rubbin', nursury-plannin', baby-talkin' all through my living room. Outside of those walls and on the blogs, I try to keep my *ss in check. Who knows if I am doing a good job at it.

Part of me feels that a pregnancy/new baby should be celebrated even more if there has been a journey to get there - no matter what that journey is. The other part understands why there are times when some of us don't want to be part of that celebration - at least not at a particular moment in time.