Sunday, February 20, 2011

My thoughts on other people having babies

I got a really brilliant message from a good friend from high school who had an interesting dilemma that up until last week I would have had very little experience with, but due to the current change of events in our life (Baby Boy), I now have quite a bit to say on the matter.

Her dilemma is that she is now expecting her 2nd baby and is thrilled about it, but she has several friends who are unable to have children right now due to various circumstances, and they are not so thrilled about her being pregnant. She felt like it was important for her to be upfront with her friends because it seems better to be honest than to keep it from them, but when she has been honest with her friends they have been blatantly unhappy for her and have questioned her reasoning for having another baby. It is now awkward to be around friends because she doesn’t feel like she can validate their feelings while still being happy that she is pregnant.

My brain, my heart, and my emotions went nuts when I read this. I have been on both sides of this equation, but I’ve only been on the “pregnant” side for the past few weeks. I’m much more familiar with the other side. That being said, I’m in no way an expert in this arena and anything I say in strictly opinion, so take it all with a grain of salt.

When I was 17 years old I had appendicitis. Up until that point in my life I had very regular cycles and was healthy as a horse. Then some doctor cut me open, stole my appendix, and I’ve had maybe 15 periods since that day. Needless to say, I had a small inclination that getting pregnant, when that time came, wouldn’t be a walk in the park. Along with my inclination came a lot of fear and a bunch of guilt. I was scared that if anybody ever wanted to marry me, they’d certainly change their mind when they found out that I might not be able to give them children, and that felt embarrassing, so I didn’t talk about it to many people. Frankly, as a junior in high school, I didn’t really need to.

Time passed, I met a boy, I liked him, he liked me back, we fell in love, we got engaged. A flood of emotions overcame me, some of which I’m sure you can imagine; joy, love, happiness, anticipation, etc. But those emotions were accompanied by that guilt I felt as a 17-year-old girl who in the back of her mind, always knew that infertility would be a part of her life. I knew I had to tell him. That was the first time I ever talked about the possibility of infertility, and truthfully I hoped it would be the last. I hoped that with the love and support C gave me during that conversation, we could get married, and have my fears dismissed by a quick and blessed pregnancy.

A year and a half later we went to the doctor where I spoke formally about my infertility fears for the 2nd time. After that doctor visit, my fears were confirmed, rather than dismissed, and on the drive home, C and I made the decision to not keep this inside and to allow it to be a part of us, but not to define us. We decided we would tell our family, and anybody else who asked.


Very few people knew how to react, and I have to give them all credit for trying, but some of the reactions were heart-wrenching. Our family reacted perfectly but it was our friends who struggled. Especially those with children, or who were expecting children. But we had decided not to hide this and so we continued to talk about it and in lots of ways it got easier each time.

Talking about it got easier, but the actual infertility and not being able to have babies didn’t get easier, and I needed an outlet. So I started this blog. And I was no longer Ashlee, and Collin was no longer Collin, but we were Collin and Ashlee from Infertility-Spoiled Eggs. Infertility, in a way started to define us. And surprisingly that was okay with us. We became the go-to couple when anybody needed a babysitter, when anybody needed advice on how to deal with infertility, and when fertile folk needed help understanding infertile folk. We embraced infertility, and learned how to talk about it. I even started to “pride” myself, if you will, on being infertile and I took pleasure in joking about how people without kids are way cooler than people with kids. Talking about infertility was natural, and I had you guys to listen, support, and encourage us.

Then, along came M. The best news of our lives, right? What we’ve hoped, wished, prayed, and waited for, for nearly 4 years had finally happened! A baby! With our last name! We laughed, we cried, we celebrated, we called family, we dropped to our knees and offered prayer after prayer of gratitude, and life was PERFECT! And then I realize I was going to have to tell you; my fellow infertile Myrtles; my partners in crime; my friends. And life all of a sudden, amidst the happiest time in our lives, got hard again. How could I tell people that we were expecting a baby when I knew EXACTLY how they would feel? I had felt those feelings; betrayal, injustice, jealousy, anger, embarrassment, self-pity, sadness, and loneliness. And now I was supposed to make you all feel that stuff too? How could I?

The answer was simple. How could I not? So I did. And I have read and reread your comments, a thousand times, and thought to myself “I have the best friends in the world”. I don’t even know most of you, but your love and kindness was remarkable. In fact a few days ago I called my mom and she answered through her tears and said “hello”? I thought somebody was dying so I quickly said “Mom, what’s wrong?” and she said “nothing, I’m just reading the comments from your blog”. Then we both cried.

Blogging about our baby was one of the hardest things I had to do. And it should have been one of the most exciting things right? Well, that’s how my dear friend feels. She has some fantastic news, and when she tells her friends, they aren’t happy for her. I know the feeling of not being happy for people, and I also know the feeling of so desperately wanting people to be happy for you. It’s such a tough situation, but the bottom line is this;

Somebody with cancer never wants anybody else to ever get cancer.

I know that’s a bold analogy, but the truth is that as an infertile woman, my biggest hope and dream for this world is that no other woman will ever have to go through infertility. Never ever. So why can’t we just be happy for those of us who don’t have to go through it? Why would we want them to suffer? Why, after all of the pain and sorrow we go through, would we want anybody else do go through that too? I don’t think we should.

That being said, every single time somebody tells me they’re pregnant, I get a pit in my stomach and my heart hurts a little. And sometimes I have to fight back a rude comment or a tear. But almost as instantly as I bring out my angry eyes, I am overwhelmed with gratitude that they don’t have to go through the feelings I have to go through. I usually go home and cry to my husband after events like these, and that’s okay!! But for goodness’ sake, somebody created life, and the power of procreation is still working! That is something to celebrate, even if it’s not within us.

To sum up what I’m feeling, we as infertile women have 2 choices;

1. Be bitter

2. Move on

And quite frankly, I think we can do both. But one is appropriate in the privacy of our own home, and the other is appropriate when our friends tell us they’re pregnant. We have a chance to increase our character each time we’re faced with a painful situation, and I firmly believe that if we embrace their joy, it will rub off on us as well.

Let’s be in the “Happy For Those Who Aren’t Infertile” Infertility Club and leave the “Jerky Infertiles” behind. What do you say?

***I’m preaching to the choir because seriously, I have never read such heart-warming and humbling comments as you guys left for Coll and me after we shared our big news.

***If you’re pregnant and don’t know how to tell infertile friends that you’re pregnant, this might help.

***Honesty is always the best policy. Sometimes it’s okay to say “I’m so happy you’re pregnant, what a miracle! My heart aches to be pregnant and this is really hard for me, but I really am so happy for you”.

***I’m guilty of 100% of the crappy-friend stuff I mentioned (why do you think it was so accurate) and so I am in no way claiming to be perfect in this.

***If you are a pregnant woman, REJOICE!! Don’t let anything or anybody get you down. There will always be somebody who isn’t happy for you in any situation you are ever in. Just try to understand where they are coming from, try not to judge them too harshly, and then dismiss their rude comments and embrace your baby!!