Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Don't let me become one of "them"

Warning: Please accept my apologies in advance for offending anyone. I don't want to minimize anyones infertility struggles as I describe how I sometimes feel. I hope I make the point at the end that everyone's pain is relative.

Don't let me become one of "them"

You know the ones . . . the infertiles who get pregnant "easily", but still think they have had it so hard that you would never envy their success. They are the ones who show up at the RE clinic with a toddler as they do an FET for a sibling. They tell you about their pregnancy or pat their belly and lament how terribly hard it all is and don't seem to understand that their situation or conversation can still cause you feelings of sadness and pain.

They think they are just like you. They think you should be happy for them or feel inspired by their success or at the very least, that you couldn't possibly be jealous because after all, their journey was just so awful.

I believe my journey hasn't been "easy". I define getting pregnant "easily" as someone who gets pregnant with IUI or less than 4 or 5 IVF's with their own gametes and no more than one early miscarriage. I know this will be offensive to those of you who may be or hope to get pregnant by my definition of easy. I don't want to negate your journey. My intention is to explain that I am sometimes envious of people who get pregnant, in my view, more easily than myself. When these people try to compare their journey to mine, I don't find it comforting. In fact, I find that I feel my journey has been negated or trivialized.

Not too long ago, I had someone tell me she had the exact same thing happen. She was dealing with infertility, got pregnant the first time and had a late term loss. Yes, that part of the journey is similar to mine, but after that it is very different. When she had her late term loss, she had frozen embryos ready to go. She took a few months to mourn, did an FET and had a healthy baby. At the point she shared this, I had been more than 2 years on the other side of losing our child, 2 failed IVF's and facing using donor gametes. I would have given anything to have been as lucky as her.

Here is my dilemma. I started a support group about a year ago. Things were pretty slow at first, but we have been getting some new members lately - which is great. The problem is that I am now pregnant. I can arrange things so I don't show right now and I can avoid the subject, but I also don't want to be dishonest. There is a part of me that thinks, "She won't mind that I am pregnant because it is with donor eggs. She will be glad that she hasn't gotten to that point."

But it isn't that simple, of course. She might be battling something that makes it hard to carry a baby and would take a pregnancy with DE over a gestational carrier or no baby at all. She may not be able to afford IVF and would be thankful for even the chance to try - never mind the gametes. She might be so warn out or hopeless feeling that any pregnancy would cause pain. I need to remember that my journey may fall into someone else's definition of "easy".

Any suggestions on how to handle this as we go forward? Can I ask people how they feel about me being pregnant and be able to get an honest answer? Do you think it is possible most people won't mind that I am pregnant - at least until I start showing? If you were joining my IRL support group and you didn't know me at all, how would you feel?

19 comments:

Geohde said...

Kami, I've had this post open in my browser window for about half an hour, wondering how on earth to solve your dilemma.

And I have no idea, it's really tough to know what words to choose or how to even approach it.

But the one thing I am crystal clear about is that you've thought about it, and that's more than half the battle. You care about the feelings of others.

J

Yodasmistress said...

If pregnacy can be "earned" then IMO you certainly have. I'm freaking GLAD that you got pregnant before me. You put in your time. You paid your dues (and them some). And now to get pregnant you DID do DE. ITA with your thoughts about "easier than me". In my world anyone who has had a rougher road than me deserves it. Anyone who hasn't, didn't. I know that is FUBAR. But you asked what I thought. So there it is. Ugly and honest. You're right, it really is all relative. For me. For you. And like it or not, for the fertiles too.

I would join your support group even if you were showing (if I knew your story). Not b/c you being pregnant gives me hope that I will get pg too - b/c honestly your fertility has nothing to do with mine and visa versa. But b/c your STRENGTH on the Journey inspires me. If my path ends as the "easy infertiles do", as your's has or as PJ's has; regardless, I hope I can find the courage that you ladies had (and continue to have) on the IF Journey. You make be believe I will find my own way, even though I don't yet know what that way is. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, tough one... firstly thanks for verbalising what so many of us think... The strange thing about infertility is that us infertiles do have standards for who has had it worse than us or easier than us etc... I think you hit the nail on the head in saying that there will always be someone who thinks your pregnancy is easier... it all comes down to perspective, which is a highly personal thing dependant 100% on where you are in your journey as an infertile...

Honestly, I am happy for anyone who falls pregnant - even those who have had it easy ala one month off b/c and whoila... I am even more happy for those who have suffered infertility.... but am I jealous - for sure! Do I wonder when the hell it will be my turn - for sure! Do I have a good drizz in private cos it is not me - for sure!

IMO I am most angered by infertiles who forget what it took to get there, whether it was a IUI or 20 IVF's, those of the sisterhood who forget and act like earth mothers when they have a belly are the ones who piss me off, not those who like you seem to still be mindful of what infertiles still on their journey will feel...

Great post!

Portia P said...

Kami
I found you via my Google Alert today. Congrats on your pg status!

I agree with you re how relative "having it easy" is. I'm just starting IVF 4 and see those succeeding on anything less as fortunate. The further I go down the IVF road, obviously the harder others have to have it. (You've obviously had a sh*tty time getting there so i'm really happy for you.

I still do genuinely feel pleased for SOME who are pg. A member of my MindBody group after her third try - who genuinely seems to care about others' feelings. It's harder to feel happy for others - another MindBody group member who keeps sending long detailed e mails about her pg state, down to when they'll be getting a their nanny!!

On the group - if I was in your group, i'm afraid i'd feel cheated if I discovered you were pg later. Sorry to be so honest - you don't even know me! I'd rather hear it early on and be made to feel in on the secret.

Good luck and sorry for the long comment.

meredithwar said...

I think you are right to ask the women in your group for an honest answer to their comfort level. I know that my discomfort with seeing pregnant bellies is directly related to where I am in my process (feeling uncertain after a procedure, or feeling hopeful leading up to ovulation). I would try and carve out a safe place for group members to feel comfortable to respond honestly. I would also ask, then ask again, as feelings may change.
I also think this might be a great opportunity to talk through these very subjects: how to cope with pregnant friends, and how to navigate the "who has been on the train longer" conversation. I think about this a lot, and am so terribly saddened to feel separated from my friends because of my recurrent losses.
M
http://auterusdivided.blogspot.com/

Lori said...

Hi, Kami.

Althought I don't have any insights for you, I wanted to pop in because I've been thinking about you and missing you.

Because your heart is involved and you have such empathy, I know you'll find the best way to handle the support group.

JJ said...

I have thought a lot about how you define who has the worst case of infertility--and how to deal with feelings/emotions towards someone who has become pregnant after dealing with a struggle-and you bring up so many good points, and truly a heart felt want/need to express yourself in the most honest of ways without hurting anyones feelings.
So to end my jumbled thoughts, I just want to thank you for remembering the journey you have been on-and it shows that you care about others feelings--I definitely cheer for you, and would join your support group-and would appreciate any thoughts you would want to share.

MrsSpock said...

I would definitely ask the other women IRL what their comfort level is.

I am one of those "easily pregnant" infertiles. I have a friend IRL who started treatments when I did but had been trying for longer and already had one failed foster adoption. It was incredibly painful for her when I got pregnant on a rest cycle, and she couldn't even bear to email me for months. And that was OK.

When she started her first IVF she felt full of hope and felt OK with seeing me and my rounder belly. When that IVF failed recently it was back to "I will contact you when I feel up to it." Again, totally OK.

The grief can be so overwhelming and is so individual. Maybe you could bring it up there the same way you've done here?

Milk Maid said...

I felt like using DS was such a hard road until I got on the net and found ladies like you! I am so appreciative of what I have, and I pray daily for those who still struggle. It was so hard for us, and I cannot imagine being in your shoes. Thanks for letting us into your circle!

Pamela Jeanne said...

I truly think it depends on the women involved in your group and where they are in their own frustration or acceptance continuum...all subject to change, of course, during the wild hormone swings. I think allowing them to voice their opinions about how it feels to be in the presence of a pregnant woman who's been through the wringer is good start but I wouldn't make it the refrain question of every group. As you start to show it will be hard for some regardless of how much they know about your history. Pregnancy is hard to take emotionally no matter how hard an infertile tries to rationalize it away. Hope that helps. And I hope you're feeling well amid all of the physical change...

niobe said...

I don't know. I know that for a few months after I lost the twins, I couldn't bear to see a pregnant woman and I wouldn't really have cared if she conceived on the first try or after 12 IVFs, using donor gametes. It was just the idea that, in all likelihood, she, unlike me, was going to bring home a baby.

So, as some people have said, I think it depends on the individuals in the support group --where they are in their thoughts and feelings.

I also was thinking about the first part of your post. It's so hard to compare. I got pregnant with twins after my first IVF, but one died at 20 weeks and the other was born at 26 weeks, but only lived for a few hours. I have several frozen embryos, but, given the extremely high risks of another pregnancy, I'll have to work with a surrogate.

Is that a hard road or an easy one? It's really not at all clear to me.

Familyof2 said...

Hmm...

I would say be honest, and open the lines of communication. Expect varying views...happiness, anger, and even some mis placed hatred because YOU ARE pregnant, and they aren't. Then go from there.

I give you kuddos...because my HUGE issue with many infertiles who become pregnant...be it on try #1 or try 101, often "forget" their infertile status, and forget the that there are those of us who still are struggling...and you have not. So given that, I believe you will get all the above reactions I have mentioned...but many will embrace you, and will still welcome you with open arms.

There is an end to all of our journeys...and some will NOT include a baby...and while that is unfortunate that doesn't mean you should have to hide yours either...

*HOpe that wasn't too disjointed!

hope548 said...

I think you have to be honest with them. It's going to come out sooner or later. Of course it will be difficult for them, but sharing your story and your feelings is what will help them. You've been through a lot, and through that pain, you can reach out. The lady that runs our support group has two beautiful children through IVF. She has always been open about that, but her journey to get there is what she focuses on. I think as long as you don't focus on your pregnancy, they will be ok.

I feel funny posting such a long post, me being a newbie to your blog, but I thought you'd appreciate some more feedback. Good luck and congrats on your pregnancy!!

onwardandsideways said...

Hi Kami... checking back in to see how you're doing and really glad to hear that things are moving along smoothly. I think you're right about this one working, and you should trust your gut on that one. If by any chance you've done your DE with a clinic that I know of in your area (that we may be visiting soon), then I think you're chance of success are really.

In regards to your question, I have my own dilemma there: I don't relate 100% to the women who have all the very normal negative feelings that infertility generates. I understand the feelings, and sometimes I even feel them... but I'm never bogged down by them. I have questioned whether it's because I'm in denial (no) and even if it means I don't really want a baby (definitely not). It might just be my survivalist personality, and I know it's definitely a lot to do with my own history: in many ways, infertility is just another trauma I get to add to my experience of life. I've been through some tough things, and somehow, I guess, infertility almost seems normal for someone like me. It's hard to explain, but it's kind of like... I was never one of those girls that had the Barbie-doll-perfect life, so how could I expect that having a baby would be an easy thing too? I could add to that a lot of stuff about my mother but then this would really be getting too long... so to answer your question, I think that anyone in that kind of group has got to take responsibility for their own feelings and conduct themselves accordingly. I'm not saying you're going to find that, but that to me is the only acceptable response. It's okay to feel jealousy and sadness at someone else's good fortune, but you have to be very careful with those feelings. I've seen some very enlightened people express those kinds of feelings in a way that they could be heard for what they are -- but I think the majority of people are not that good at doing that. It's enough of a battle dealing with those feelings internally; trying to communicate them in a graceful way is often too much of a challenge.

I think you can't worry too much about what other people are feeling. It's not your job. Your job is taking care of yourself and your baby. Hope that continues to all roll along without a hitch.

P.S. Sorry for the novella! and I sent you an email with a private question.

onwardandsideways said...

one more thing: Kami, I hope you won't mind, but I really need to get connected to other DE people right now... so if you're reading this, and have the time, I'd love to hear from people on my blog too:

http://onwardandsideways.wordpress.com/

Ann said...

This is very, very tough. I attended a few support group meetings in my area that were run by two people who had twins via IVF--one with DE. I really liked having two success stories right in front of me. However, at this point--especially after having had a devastating loss five weeks ago--being around pregnant women is hard for me.

Honesty is key, because then they can choose whether or not they can handle it. These days, I want to know the situation I am entering upfront so I can make an informed choice.

On another note: I can relate to your feelings about people saying they've "been in your situation." I've had several people tell me they've had a couple of miscarriages, so they know the pain I'm going through. No, they don't. Just as I don't know what it's like to have a miscarriage, they don't know what it's like to actually give birth to a dead baby. It's that simple.

Working Girl said...

Hi Kami, I think being open and honest is the best thing. I belong to a professionally led women's infertility support group that runs in groups of five sessions.

When one of us gets pregnant, it is up to the group to decide if the person can finish out the sessions. We have always said yes and openly discussed our comfort levels.

It is hard for an infertile to sit with a pregnant woman regardless of how she resolved her infertilty. And, vice versa. I was pregnant during the middle of a group of sessions and was allowed to finish. I chose to downplay my pregnancy to not offend anyone. After I miscarried and rejoined the group, another woman spoke honestly about her choice to reduce her DE pregnancy from twins to a singleton.

It was very uncomfortable but, I respected her choice. It was her life, her pregnancy. I am all for ignoring uncomfortable situations but, sometimes we have to face them so we can move forward.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Hmm, you see, now I don't know where I fall according to your "easy/hard" IF standards. 3 IVFs, 2 losses and one pg which is still in the first trimester. Absolutely CANNOT get pg on my own without IVF - have M/F and F/F. I think time factors into it too. It took us 2 years to get to this point, and I don't exactly have a baby in my arms yet. I would also say, some people NEVER get pregnant after years of many, many IF treatments, so they fall into another category - that is extremely hard/impossible and probably have the right to resent any/all people who have ever had the good fortune to even get to the place we are at now. So, I don't know that this rating system is a good or useful thing. Just my opinion.

Kami said...

Anonymous - I don't think I claim that it is useful, yet most of us do find ourselves comparing at one point or another.

My point is that while I do know how I feel about "easy" (yes, you would count - you got your genetics and it only took two years and only two losses - I would count you among the "luckier than me" category and in the wrong mood it could make me sad) I cannot accurately predict who might call my situation "lucky" or "easy"

I don't want to get lazy and assume my success would not - again on the wrong day or emotional state - cause someone pain. I want to stay sensitive to that.