When I started this blog, I wanted to write about infertility, fertility and reproductive medicine. Anything with a connection to these topics. Personal stories, research studies, clinical findings, new technology, medical information, new breakthroughs, things that makes me happy but also things that makes me sad. Or angry. Or confused. I guess more or less everything that makes me care. Well, today’s post will be about something that now makes me extremely happy, but was not as simple while we were trying to conceive. Recently we found out that my sister in law is having a baby. A few days ago they revealed it is a little boy. We are of course super happy for them. And for us. Who will now have another new little person entering the family. They already have a son who will now become a Big Brother. A big change for him and the rest of the family. But a positive change. An addition. And today it makes me smile. Wide. With all my heart.
However, when I and my husband were trying to conceive, news like this was always difficult. Complicated. Never easy. Never just plain rosy happiness. My feelings were always dual. News that your close friend(s) and/or members of your family was having a baby was never just simple happy news. Of course you WERE happy for them. Truly and honestly happy. But with that happiness there were always other feelings attached. Like jealousy. And worry. And stress. And sadness. And anger. And frustration. You were jealous of their happiness. And worried as well as stressed at the thought that you might never experience that sort of happiness yourself. You were sad and angry that some people seemed to become pregnant just by looking at each other, while you were trying everything in your power and still was traveling in the darkness. And all these feelings mixed together created the darkest form of frustration. So happiness for other people’s pregnancies was always filled with pain to. And on top of this was guilt. At least me, I always felt guilty for having these dual feelings. For not “rising above” and be just plain and simply happy. And the guilt was sometimes suffocating. I felt as a bad friend. Like I did not earn my friends’ friendship anymore. All because of how I felt.
It was hard. In particular when the “Happy Baby News” came from friends who had been struggling together with me on the harsh infertility road. Because, when you have been crying together. Supporting each other through the darkest hours. Leaned on each other. Laughed at each others really dark and twisted jokes about a situation you are both sharing. And then the balance shifts. One of you are finally seeing the light. All of a sudden, she has a chartered helicopter that comes and picks her up from the deep, black hole you both have been in together for the last year(s). While you are doomed to stay. In the darkness. Of course, you do feel truly happy for your friend. You wave good bye with a smile on your face. Tears of joy in your eyes. Wishing her the best on the new journey. Away from the dark hole. But as soon as the helicopter blades has disappeared and you no longer hear the the swishing sound of the blades. Your happiness for your friend will change color from rose gold to a mish-mash of grey and chaotic colors. The hole will all of a sudden feel extremely empty. Lonely. And all those non-happy-feelings will start to take over. More and more. Until you can hardly feel any happiness or joy at all for your friend who just was rescued from your hole.
This is not a choice. It just happens. As a result of your desire to become a parent but without getting any closer. No matter how hard you try. No one chooses to struggle on their way to parenthood. No one. You do not choose to have these mixed feelings. But. It. Happens. To many people. In that situation. So how can you make this easier? Is it even possible? Well, everyone is different. We all have our own worries. Our own grief. Our own stress. Our own hope. Our own dreams. And our own way to cope with all this. So I do not think there is a standardized patented solution. For me, it also varied. Over time. Some things worked during some periods but were not at all helpful at other times. Depending on many different factors.
In retrospect, I can see some behavioral patterns and there are some things I would like to share. Some things to try when you feel overwhelmed by guilt or other negative feelings after you have received “Happy Baby News” from friends or family close to you:
- If you know them well, be open with how you feel. Let them know you are happy for them but that you might not be able to share their happiness all the way.
- Take a break. Sometimes this means a break from fertility treatment and/or chasing your ovulation days. Sometimes this means taking a break from people who are pregnant, or in a happy baby bubble. Sometimes it just means taking time for yourself and try to take care of yourself without thinking of if this will score you any bonus points in the fertility book.
- Forgive yourself. Always always forgive yourself. For your guilt. For your “not-all-the-way-to-the-top-happiness”. For the jealousy. For your dark thoughts.
- Allow yourself to be okay with carrying all these feelings. Accept them. But fight hard against letting them be in charge all the time. Do not let them take over completely.
I think that one of the hardest parts when you are trying desperately to conceive, is to understand and accept that every pregnancy that is not your own, means that you are facing a form of grief. If you have experienced any miscarriage(s), you may feel the loss of your baby/babies every time you are reminded of someone else’s Baby Happiness. And even if you have never been pregnant, every pregnancy around you will remind you of that it is not you who carry a new life in your womb. And that is a loss in itself. For you.