Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Pregnancy Guilt

Lately, it seems like there are more and more ladies in the infertile community crossing over into the new and unfamiliar territory of pregnancy. With this transition comes so many wonderful emotions and feelings but there are unexpected emotions as well. Almost everyone I know that has gone from infertile frustration to pregnant elation has dealt with some type of guilt in the process. Everyone remembers the hurt they felt after a BFN or pregnancy loss when someone else around them got pregnant. Having dealt with that pain ourselves we hate to think we could be the ones unintentionally inflicting it on others. I have read many blog posts this year from women who are feeling this way and want desperately to reach out and let others know they care while still honoring their pregnancies and cherishing them.

I of course, being newly pregnant again after years of struggle, thousands in treatment and the loss of my 1st pregnancy, have dealt with these emotional struggles as well. I love and adore the women that have supported me and cheered me on through twitter and my blog and I want to continue to support each of them as they continue their journeys into motherhood and beyond. I understand, though, how hard it can be and do my best to be sensitive to others. But I also know that there may be some who need to protect their feelings and will choose to avoid my blog or tweets and I respect that.

Recently though I have feared inadvertently hurting someone who will have no way to hide from my pregnancy and it breaks my heart to think of it. My husband and I live a neighborhood with shared garages. The neighbors we share ours with moved in when the wife was about 8 months pregnant. They were so excited and positive and couldn't wait to be parents. When their little girl was born you could tell they were overjoyed. When we passed them coming and going they always commented on how wonderful it was have their daughter home with them.

Then at about the time I did my 1st IVF transfer, about 6 months after their daughter was born, we stopped running into them. Their car was never in the garage and we never saw them coming or going. To be honest we were pretty distracted with our IVF and subsequent miscarriage so we didn't think too much of it, but then we learned the awful truth. I am good friends with the woman who manages our property and she let me know that they had planned on moving early because their baby girl had passed away. My heart shattered into a million pieces when I heard this. I know how painful my pregnancy loss had been, I couldn't even imagine how devastating losing your 6 month old child would be.

I completely understood why they would want to move and didn't expect to see them again, but suddenly one day they were back. They were as nice to us as they had always been, smiling and saying hello when we'd see each other and leaving plenty of space for our car when they parked. I didn't want to pry or tell them what I had heard so I never stopped to ask about the baby. Stopping them as they got in or out of their car just didn't seem like an appropriate way to approach them anyway.

But then they came home one day with a remembrance decal on their back window and I saw that their little angel's 1st birthday was coming soon. So I told Chad and we immediately agreed that we should do something to let them know we were thinking about them. Just hearing those simple words meant so much to me after our loss, and I wanted them to know we cared. So on the baby's birthday we left a potted plant with little yellow blooms on the front porch with a simple note saying they were in our thoughts and our hearts.

This was over the weekend. Last night, we were walking out of the garage as they pulled in and they stopped to thank us and say how much it meant to them. Chad and I both got teary as they said they had wanted to say something to us sooner but it was hard for them to talk about it. Then they suggested we all get together sometime, which we wholeheartedly agreed to.

As we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways, I cried again. I cried for their heartbreak and loss and for the fear that I will soon be a source of more pain. The day will come when my pregnancy will be visible and I can't imagine them having to be parked next to me every day never knowing when they might run into me and my bump, then one day running into me and my baby. I just can't imagine hurting either of them like that. It is the last thing I want to do. Chad and I talked and agreed that if we do actually have dinner or something with them in the near future, we will tell them our story and our situation so that they are prepared. Nothing is worse than the shock of not knowing or not being told and being surprised by the news later.

I still don't know what happened but really that is not important, what is important is that they have suffered an unimaginable loss and I want to be as sensitive to it as I possibly can. I am crying now just writing this, for them and anyone else who has ever lost a child as well as for those struggling to become parents. Both are a deep source of pain that no one should ever have to endure and my heart hurts for every unsuccessful cycle, adoption wait and loss.

Pregnancy after infertility feels a lot like survivor's guilt. Why should I be here while so many others still hurt and struggle? Why me and not them? Of course I love Snow Pea with all my heart and wouldn't trade this pregnancy for anything, but I still find it so unfair that so many wonderful people are still struggling with infertility and loss. I hope and pray that I can not only avoid causing anyone any hurt but that I can also be there to love and support those who need it.


Anonymous said...

I am feeling the same way right now. I don't want to hurt others with my joyous news. I feel guilty about it. I know that without our BFPs others will lose hope. I like giving others hope. But I also know, firsthand, that I cause the Green Eyed Monster to come out as well.

I, perhaps naively and way too soon, joined a pregnancy board. I haven't posted a thing. I find it difficult to relate to the other women in my "May 2011 Due Date" community. The entire site has questions on it like "Did you get pregnant right away or did it take a few months?" Really? Where's the "It took me thousands of dollars and years to get pregnant option?"

I have survivor's guilt at the moment but I still identify more closely with my fellow IFers who ares till struggling than those that didn't have to work for it. But I will gladly fade in to the background so as to not cause them more pain.

The Gimlins said...

That is wonderful that you were able to reach out and bless your neighbors that way. I like your reference to "survivor's guilt" because I often use the term "IF survivors" - we are still struggling with IF, but we have been blessed with a miracle too. Whenever I felt (or still feel) that guilt, I remind myself that God brought us through IF with a beautiful outcome and we need to use that for His purpose. To me, that means continually reaching out to and encouraging others in the IF community. I thought Stirrup Queens captured it well: "...there should be a secret handshake for those who have experienced or are currently experiencing infertility. She was finally pregnant after multiple miscarriages and she wanted infertile women to know when looking at her pregnant belly that she was one of them still - in heart and mind..."

Jennie said...

As 3 years ttc and now 8 weeks pregnant I relate to this post so much. I've gone a little quiet on Twitter, and have bid adieu to my IF forum because I don't feel I know what to say any more.
I have been so open about EWCM and my cycles and injections but now my thoughts have turned to being about pregnancy I just don't know what to say out loud.
Also, IRL I've been so open about my IVF that everyone knows I'm pregnant. Therefore there's no way I can be subtle about it, even in these pre-bump days. I know as well as anyone that I don't know what private struggles people may be having.
It all leaves me feeling a bit lost. Like you, I don't want to cause any pain but also wish to share my experience with those around me.

Tina said...

I've been thinking a lot about and struggling with this over the last 6 months. It's weird...I identify more with the IF world than the pregnant world, but I feel like I don't really fit in anywhere.

You and your DH's kindness to your neighbors during this difficult time is awesome. I'm sure that they will appreciate hearing about your journey to pregnancy. HUGS.

Miracle in the Making said...

I too have had the "survivors guilt". It is so hard because I know how it feels to want something so bad and see everyone else around you get it, but I also know that I was more happy for those who had to struggle to get pregnant, when they finally did, even though I was not. It's a hard place to be. I have so many of my infertile family on my facebook and while I want to share the joy of little things that are happening in this pregnancy, I do feel guilty when I post about them and try not to as much, even though it took us years to get pregnant as well.

I just wanted you to know that I know how you feel as well as I'm sure all the other "infertility survivors". I really hope that your neighbors don't take the news of your pregnancy too hard. What a horrible thing for them to have to go through to lose a 6 month old child. My heart breaks for them.

Just remember that it's okay and I think natural to feel this way, but don't miss out on all the amazing feelings this hard earned pregnancy is bringing forth in your life. *hugs*

Anonymous said...

My heart goes out to your neighbor's. What an unimaginable loss! I think the way you are feeling is what alot of pregnant infertiles have felt before. I know I had and still have guilt. And I try to be cautious of things I say even to those people around me in IRL, because you just never know what they are going through.

Ashley said...

Being someone who is still in the midst of the struggle without a BFP yet, I thank you for your words! I am overjoyed for you and your husband and being on the other end, I don't want to take any of that away from you! I agree that it is hard when I hear people are pregnant, whether they didn't struggle or went through tons of treatment. I hope to be on the other end one day but just hearing your words helps that hurt of all the new pregnancies. I think once you explain your situation to your neighbors they will be touched that you worried about it and though it might be hard, it will make everything less ackward and easy in the long run. I am praying for you!

Tillie said...

Holly I love you. You are seriously the kindest person I have ever "met". I was in tears reading your neighbor's breaks my heart. You are totally doing the right thing in talking to them...I think because you have been through the loss you can understand some of their pain. Be strong and I'm sending you lots and lots of prayers!

T said...

So I am now balling at work! You are so very kind and sympathetic! I wish there were more people in the world like you!

Tiffany said...

I think to many people can relate to your post. It's so true about survivor's guilt. Just remember you have nothing to be guilty deserve this just like every mommy to be!

Waiting Lisa said...

I'm glad you were able to reach out to your neighbors. The flowers were a good idea. So sad.

Anonymous said...

I've always said, and I mean this, that pregnant infertiles have it the worst as far as guilt and being unsure of their place. It's tough. Like you said, it's survivor's guilt. But I am so glad that you were able to reach out to your neighbors and offer your support. You are one of the sweetest people I know, Holly, and I just know that your neighbors appreciate and value your kindness and love.

I'll be thinking of them. What a sad story. I know that nothing can ever heal their pain, but I'm sure your amazing spirit made their day a little brighter.


Logical Libby said...

Enjoy every second. Guilt isn't necessary. Bad things happen to everyone, all the time. If we don't savor the sweet -- then tragedy wins.

collin said...

Sooooo cute post. Thanks for sharing ur personal feelings.

Take the test ABC's of Pregnancy and find out your knowledge of things you are supposed to do and more importantly, what you are not supposed to do during your pregnancy.

Take Care.

MiraclesDHappen said...

You shouldn't feel guilty at all! and I know that when it finally happens for me, I won't feel guilty either. congrats!

Rita said...

I've had so many of the same feelings. It's hard not to feel this way, especially when you remember what it's like to be on the other side waiting for your turn.

My heart breaks for your neighbors and their loss. I think that your plan to share your story with them is a good one. Many hugs and good luck!

missohkay said...

Wow, your post was so beautiful and thoughtful. And your "survivor guilt" theme is very similar to the post I was planning to write this weekend about how I feel guilty in our blog/twitter community for having had two BFPs even though I lost both pregnancies. So many people in our community would love to have my two lost BFPs. I think you have shared your good news with much grace and sympathy for others :)

B @ Our Journey said...

Hi!! I just found your blog and I am ttc with PCOS. I can understand how you feel, you remember how hard it was and all the struggles but try and not feel guilty. Everything happens for a reason and this was your time to get pregnant. Be happy and celebrate. You deserve it!!

Mrs. Tass said...

WOW....I dealt with the trying to get pregnant issue for three years...I now have a beautiful 2 month old baby boy! I couldn't imagine losing him after knowing him even 3 minutes! I will pray for them and you as well. Be proud of your bump no matter what...because it is the most awesome thing you will ever have :) Congrats again.