You know what’s really hard? Dealing with infertility. And miscarriage.
You know what else is really hard? Dealing with infertility/miscarriage while others around you become, announce, or just in general ARE pregnant.
For me, the “hard” is due to many reasons. Of course the obvious: jealousy. “Why is she pregnant and not me?” “I’ve been trying longer than her.” “I should have a four-month-old right now and I’m STILL not even pregnant. She is X weeks along!” Jealousy goes hand in hand with sorrow. “How is this my life?” “She will be holding her baby before me” “When will I ever be a mother?”
Jealousy and sorrow are hard to deal with.
In addition to good ‘ol J&S, time is a difficult element in the infertility world. Last year, there were four women in the tiny early childhood center that I work in that were pregnant. FOUR! One even had nearly the exactly same due date that I was supposed to have. I mean, can you imagine? Every time I walked past her in the hallways I thought, “Oh. That’s what my baby bump would look like right now if I were still pregnant.” All of them have since had their healthy babies, and for that I am happy. But it certainly made me feel incredibly depressed whenever I saw them all of last year.
I knew very early on that one of these four fantastic women was pregnant. It was very hard to hear her happy news having just miscarried a month and a half prior, but I told myself, “Be happy for her. It’s okay. You will be pregnant before she announces that she is pregnant to the rest of world. Piece of cake.” Well, good old time crept up on me. She announced, and I was still not pregnant. “It’s okay, you will be pregnant before she finds out the sex.” Time got me again. “No problem. By the time she has her baby, you will be pregnant.” Time. What a pain in my bottom! And unlike the saying (Time heals all wounds) infertility is a pain that only becomes more challenging as time goes by.
I was recently told by a close friend that she and her husband are pregnant. I’m not sure there is a good way to prepare for this statement when it comes completely out of left field as it did for me Wednesday night. However, had I been more prepared, I would have stated, “I’m happy for you, and sad for me.” Because it’s the truth. (Instead, I initially reacted as a normal member of society often would with, “Wow! Great! etc.,” but very soon became overcome by my grief to the point where I could no longer complete a story, wept, and left the room). I’m happy for you, and sad for me. The balance of that truth is the most difficult part. When you feel the sorrow so deeply that the happy is not allowed to shine through, you are not only feeling your own sorrow, but you feel the embarrassment of your own emotions. Embarrassment of your own reaction to what should be “happy” news.
Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
I don’t think it’s wrong to have sorrow. The Old Testament writes of three women who suffered from infertility. While the emotions of Sarah, and the mother of Sampson were not recorded, the emotions of Hannah were. 1 Samuel 1:15-16 writes:
“But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation all the time.”
And you know what? In the very next verse, it is written that God heard her prayers and would answer them.
So sorrow is justifiable.
But jealousy is not. The Bible says in Proverbs 14:30:
“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.”
This is such a challenge for me. But one I try deeply to overcome.
I have another dear friend who always seems to have the right words when it comes to infertility. (She too was part of this “club no one wants to be a part of” but has since found peace and is finally pregnant). She told me she often thinks of our situations as the “special education of the fertility world.” When you work with or have a child in special education, it’s all about the little milestones. The rest of the fertility world gets excited about those big milestones (such as, telling the family, finding out the sex, etc.), but for us in “the club” we need to find our joy in the little milestones. And I had one of those this week.
On Wednesday everything turned out great. My lining just barely qualified us for the refund policy. PRAISE BE TO GOD. And in approximately two weeks I’ll begin stimulating medications for IVF.
In the meantime, I’m trying to keep my balance. Trying to make that “Happy for you, sad for me” more “happy” than “sad.” Some days I do better than others.
And that’s okay.
Strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow.