July 21, 2007

Pregnant Infertile at Half Past

You know, sometimes I feel like I don't have much blogger street cred. I started my blog in February, and found out I was pregnant in March. I've now been a pregnant blogger for about five months, after just six weeks of blogging before that. It's amazing to me thinking back, because that first six weeks seemed to stretch on so much longer. The last five months have seriously flown by.

It's also very bizarre because of course I've been dealing with infertility for five years now, and compared to that this pregnancy feels like one amazingly lucky sliver of time in what still seems like an endless enternity of disappointment. The earliest years, around 2002 through 2005 were the hardest, when we were coming to terms with the fact that it wasn't going to happen the old fashioned way and still battling with hope and loss every month. I wish I had known about the blogosphere back then. I was so alone in dealing with it all. As we've all experienced, often the people closest to me who I tried to confide in were the ones who said the most (unintentionally) harmful things. My husband didn't understand. He tried, but most of you have had the same experience with boys just not processing things, especially in the beginning, in the same way. For years he maintained that it would just take time, and there was no one who seemed to understand the crushing loss I was dealing with.

By early 2007 though, we had thoroughly covered the five stages of grief that the loss of our fertility subjected us to, and arrived at the same point, both of us ready to try IVF. I had pretty much given up hoping anymore; it was just too hard. I blogged about how strange it felt to hand over the big IVF check for something that I didn't really believe in, because of course we would never just give away that kind of cash if we really thought we had no chance, but at the same time I simply could not imagine it working. Scarred Bellybutton recently blogged about the difficulty she had following her accupuncturist's instruction to visualize herself pregnant (she's starting IVF #1, go give her some love). She has the same defense mechanism many of us do. She's shut down that ability in order to protect herself.

Mine hasn't really come back on yet. At first I struggled with believing I was pregnant. I was certain everyone could clearly see that I was a fraud who did not belong sitting there in the waiting room of the perinatal doc, or shopping in maternity stores. Now that I'm definitely filling out the maternity mediums and the larges are starting to look more comfy, I feel a bit more entitled to be there. Now it's the baby stores, trying to navigate the stroller quagmire. Other pregnant women give me knowing looks and I can tell they think I'm part of their club but I'm not. I'm not all happy and excited and smiley and optimistic. I feel grateful and appreciative and lucky, but also guarded and wary. They shop for baby products with loving visions of their future children snuggled down in the various gear, and I sometimes wonder what I'm going to do with this stuff because I certainly can't envision a baby at the end of this story, despite the fact that I now feel something wiggling around in there every day.

I know a lot of other pregnant infertiles feel this too. Obviously what it took to get here has taken its toll on us, but also we just know too much. We see so much loss. We have studied all the things that can go wrong. As Kate said recently, any pregnant woman has fears and doubts and moments of disbelief, but it's different for an infertile. We still wear some of our protective armour. I still remember that for our particular situation, the IVF pregnancy rate was 15%, but the live birth rate was just 7%. Half didn't make it. At this point, there's every reason to believe we will and I no longer walk around in terror, but I'm wary.

So now I'm back to being in a weird place no seems to understand. Real life people are happy for me, but they want me to be smiley and happy and excited too. Usually the best I can manage is "So far, so good!" with a genuine smile, because that's what I'm comfortable smiling about. They roll their eyes a bit, understandably, or get all uncomfortable until I say something perky like "We painted the nursery!" Kind of like the dumb things I used to say to make people feel more comfortable if our childlessness came up and was met with a silent chill. Even some infertiles have suggested that perhaps I should just move on. Maybe I should. Maybe I shouldn't have been so quick to embrace the loss of hope that made it all so much more bearable and now makes it so unbelievable. But it was just what I needed to do to get through it.

And I'm still going through the process, just at a different point. Every week further along gets me closer to this actually being real. I do try to savor each new milestone becase it is going by so fast, but I'm also always looking forward to the next thing: When my husband can feel the kicks from the outside, then it will be real because I'll know I'm not imainging it, right? In same way I was always able to hold out much more hope for every other bloggers' cycle (sending hope your way, Sticky Bun), I am able to get much more excited about others' pregnancies (congratulations Adrienne!). I still feel much more at home with the bloggers than I do with that other club.

28 comments:

Smiley Eyes said...

Funny how things work out even though you have no control over them. Good Luck! The next few months will go by even faster...

tipsymarie said...

Moving on from years and years of repeated disappointment takes a lot of time, probably more than 9 months. You sound like you did a great job of protecting yourself from hurt by completely removing your identity from pregnancy. Now that you are very pregnant, I don't think you can just jump into Happy Pregnant Lady Land without some transition.

But, there really isn't any transition between being infertile and being a pregnant infertile. I think infertiles who become pregnant after several months or a year have a little easier time of transitioning - simply because they've dealt with it for a lot less time. I say this because at that time, I could still picture myself pregnant and happy. Now, not so much, and only because I need to self preserve.

Oh, and I think you've got plenty of street cred, Sarah. :)

Debbie said...

I'm wishing you luck in your final months. You are so lucky and I know that guarded feeling. I already feel tainted by the IF journey and it's only been 2 years from B and I.

Thanks for sharing your feelings.

((HUGS))

I needn't even say said...

Always remember that anyone named Homeslice who used to roam the streets of DC as a child has street cred....

Kate said...

Sarah, there were so many parts of this post where I found myself nodding my head vigorously in agreement--the husband who thought it would just take time, the feeling of grateful and lucky but also guarded and wary, the ability to be more excited and hopeful for others than for yourself. I struggle a lot with this feeling of self-preservation. I can’t seem to turn it off. I preface all baby-related conversations with "if all goes well..." Experiencing IF/pregnancy loss and being part of this community is much different from reading a book on these issues. Not only do I know that a myriad of things CAN go wrong, but I also know that they DO go wrong--and that they happen to people just like me.

And I often feel guilty for not being excited enough. Other times, I find myself being too wary to feel happy. At those times, I have to remind myself that I am grateful and so very lucky to be where I am today. To have made it this far. To have this day with my baby. And I am so grateful to know that there are people out there who feel the same way.

Reproductive Jeans said...

Beautiful post sara....you are definitely "one of us" and we wouldnt let you go that easy=)

Jamie said...

I totally understand. I have those moments when I think "what am I doing?" and can't believe that I may actually get a healthy, living baby. It just seems like too much. I have a bump, I'm definitely in maternity clothes, I have stuff for a nursery, but I still think to myself how hard it will be to have to shut the door to that room when something bad happens...

I wish their was a cure-all -- hopefully we will both find it come November.

Nicole said...

An absolutely beautiful post, my friend. Thank you for writing it. Sniff.

My Reality said...

This is a beautiful post, Sarah.

I think once infertile, always infertile. It changes you in the core of your being. Especially after struggling for 5 years. You know the pain. You know what can go wrong. You also know that this does work.

You might be at a different stage of the journey right now, and I don't think that changes things. I am proud to call you my friend.

Bumble said...

Sarah, this post was so perfectly written. I also nodded like a crazy woman all through it. I may as well have written it, because I get it too. When asked, I always say, "So far, everything SEEMS to be going fine..." We're self preserving, its so hard to believe that after all this time, and after preparing ourselves mentally for this NEVER happening, that it just might. Every day is a day closer right! x

Adrienne said...

And you probably always will feel more comfortable with the infertiles than the fertiles. Sadly, infertility strips away the naivete and, with it, some of the joy (clueless though it may be) of pregnancy. My BIL called to say congratulations and my first reaction was - please don't congratulate me, not yet anyway. And that sucks.

p.s. and you have plenty of street cred, Sarah ;-)

Tinker said...

I don't think that feeling ever goes away. My son is over two and I still don't feel like I belong with those who conceive without outside help.

Rachel said...

Thanks for the reply on my blog!

As for pregnancy after infertility, that is something I have not experienced. I have experienced pregnancy after loss though.

It is so hard thinking in terms that we are really going to have a baby. Try explaining to people why you are crying when they congratulate you on your pregnancy, they look at you like you have 3 heads.

I think it does get a little easier though each time you hear the heartbeat or see the ultrasound pictures.

ultimatejourney said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I completely understand where you're coming from in terms of not being some super happy pregnant lady. I feel like I don't quite belong anywhere -- I don't really fit in with the perky pregnant women, but I worry that reading about me is hard for infertile women and I don't want to hurt anyone. (Talk about lack of street cred -- I got pg on my first treatment cycle. Granted, it was a donor cycle, and we went through hell to get to the point of starting treatment, but jeez. I feel like a total impostor.)

Sticky Bun said...

This is a great post, Sarah. You are so right that we all use a similar defense mechanism--one that's come from years of facing month after month of disappointment. And, I imagine that, if I'm lucky enough to cross over to the other side, I'll also feel like a fraud. And I won't know what to do with all of the people who just expect you to be smiley and happy and carefree.

For what it's worth, though, you do have street cred. You've dealt with a ton, and even though you and I aren't in the same place, your posts really do speak to me. I think the feelings, no matter the place in our journey, are very similar.

and, thanks for the shout-out and hope. I hope I have good news to share, but am glad I have a community to fall back on in case I don't. :-)

megan said...

you have lots of street cred in my books, Sarah.
this is a brilliantly written post. thank you.

twirl said...

I hate that we all feel like we need street cred in the first place in order to just feel the way we feel.

Isn't it amazing though that we all seem to go through some version of these same feelings/insecurities once we get to this point?

Anyway, I hope things keep moving along as healthy and "normally" as possible =)

LIW (Lady In Waiting) said...

There's no doubt in my mind that pregnancy does not cure the pain of IF. Like you, I expect to be wary and scared if it ever happens to me. Parenthood - however it happens - and time will probably take some of the sting out of the legacy of IF struggles for me, but it certainly won't go away.

It annoys me that people don't expect pregnant women to be scared out of their minds. There's so much to lose, how can they feel any other way? Except if pregnancy came easily, I guess.

TeamWinks said...

Parenting after infertility is also strange. It brings added guilt when you desperately long for some aspects of life prior to baby. However, I remind myself that it's ok to miss sleeping, decent showers, and the use of two hands. I think only others who are parenting after infertility can understand it...perhaps that's how it is for pregnant women who've gone through infertility.

KarenO said...

A callous doesn't magically fall off your toe if you take off your shoes. It got there through days and weeks and sometimes months of hurt, and it will only disappear with lots of tender loving care in the continued absence of the hurt that caused it. It's good to be wary and carefull like you are, and when you've gone through it in your own time you will react and feel what you want when you feel OK with it. :)

Sara said...

I have the same street cred issue. I only blogged for a few months before getting lucky, even though I'd put in a few years of hard time before that glorious positive beta. One commenter actually said that it seemed like I'd gotten pregnant really quickly. If quick is 3 IUI's, a surgery, and 2 IVF's, please don't ever sign me up for slow!

Anyway, I'm exactly the same way about happy preggo-land. I AM happy, but I'm still having trouble believing it's real (at 25 weeks). I have now been forced to buy maternity stuff, but I still have yet to make my first baby purchases.

You are not alone.

Rachel Inbar said...

Sarah,
You have described this SO well. I know exactly how you feel. I remember running into my doctor when I was at about 7 weeks with my twins and he was surprised that I didn't look happy. Happy? How could I be happy? I was still terrified something would go wrong.
For me, the feelings you described never went away... well, at least until the kids started to grow a bit :-)

Thalia said...

I think you know that I know how you feel! It's very strange territory, I have tried to focus on just enjoying the moments of happiness when I can, and allowing myself to be scared if that's how I'm feeling at that point. Hang in there!

KarenO said...

Hey you, we need an update on you health, the baby's and Jack's too! Just a quick one, pretty please? :)

Matthew M. F. Miller said...

A lovely post, especially in a time when so many of us feel hopeless in our personal and public lives.

You have all the cred you could ever need, there are no guidelines for who can and can't - and you write quite well.

K77 said...

Y'know I have a couple of friends who each have a 3 year old via IVF. Both still identify as infertile. I don't think the pain of IF ever goes away. And screw "should". It saddens me that IF robs us of so much, and continues to do so forever it seems.

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