The last few years, Pete and I have been in the process of trying to grow our family. We’ve had our share of major ups and downs between various tests, treatments, and two miscarriages. But I never quite get over how intense that I feel at the low points. When someone announces a pregnancy, the “why us” commentary in my head begins immediate playback.
I just learned that another friend (there are so many of us) had her second miscarriage in only a few months. My heart broke for her again because while her experience is unique to her, I could empathize when she said, “Emotionally, I go from feeling nothing to feeling everything.”
For me, that’s been the hardest part of this journey. One day, I want every opportunity to snuggle with friends’ kids. The next, just hearing someone comfort their crying baby pisses me off. The thing is that I never know day-to-day what to expect from myself. And it’s hard to accept that I can’t always control what I feel. I have to embrace those feelings and then choose how to deal with them. The latter part is the hardest.
As much as I’d like to avoid every baby shower ever (I truly despised them before any fertility troubles. I mean, how many different ways can I fawn over tiny things or pretend the melted candy bar diaper game is anything but gross?), I can’t – and don’t – want to miss out on my friends’ lives. So, here I am. Grappling with these emotions that aren’t supposed to be shared – anger, jealousy, sadness – and trying to figure out how to embrace them without them consuming me.
So far, I’ve had a few realizations about my particular experience and how I can take steps toward embracing where I am in the process right now.
The first part is understanding that people aren’t getting pregnant to spite me. I know that sounds absolutely ridiculous. But when you want something so badly – something that is seemingly so easy for others – there’s a part of you that thinks that the universe may truly be out to get you. And it applies to more than just pregnancy. It’s jobs and promotions and relationships. It sometimes can feel like a personal dig to hear of others’ success while you’re floundering.
I’m learning that it’s ok for my first thought to be “fuck you” when I hear of someone else’s pregnancy. It’s ok to flash the biggest smile possible, then immediately run to the bathroom to craft a voodoo doll out of paper towels and wish a few back spasms upon them that night. I know some may disagree, but I think having a little tantrum is ok if it’s private and doesn’t hurt others. Acknowledging and releasing the anger is very important.
However, after the tantrum, I’ve found that I also need to take a step back and look at things from their perspective.
Them getting pregnant did not somehow take my chance at having a child. Happiness is not a zero-sum game. God didn’t look at them and you and think “Well, Mae did chew with her mouth open at dinner the other day, so this kid is going with these guys.”
It helps to think positively about the other person. When angry or jealous, we like to immediately bring up the bad stuff. “They didn’t even mean to get pregnant!” Or “They can’t even support having a child.” Or “They wear socks with sandals!” (The last is the WORST. Seriously, stop it middle-age men.) However, none of that crap matters. THIS IS NOT A COMPETITION. That’s so hard for me because I’m a competitive, driven person. If I want something, I will go after it. If you have something I want, drop the ball and run because I WILL CATCH YOU. But that simply isn’t how having a child happens. Because no matter how smart, proactive, healthy, aggressive, rich, whatever you are, there’s no guarantee that you will conceive and deliver a child of your own. And if someone else does, I believe it’s quite illegal to chase them and take it.
This is where I really get stuck. No matter what I do, I can’t will this dream to come true. (Ugh! I’m a fixer! My husband’s a fixer!) But focusing my pain at others won’t help me in the end. It’s ok for me to feel the inevitable feelings, but letting them harden me will only darken every moment until whatever the end of this journey is. Somehow, I have to eventually muster up the strength to celebrate others’ happiness even when I am hurting. It doesn’t mean being fake, but it does mean digging deeper than I want to go, setting aside the anger and jealousy to be able to share in friends’ joy. That’s SO much easier said than done. Because at the end of the day, none of the logic matters in your heart.
And that’s when it helps having loving family and friends to hold on to. You can’t have too many. Fortunately, I’ve been blessed with an abundance of friends who can laugh or cry with me, and a partner that I will love no matter where this journey takes us.
If you are traveling a similar path, I’m sorry. It flippin’ sucks. If you are supporting someone going through this, you are appreciated. We’re not always sure what we need, but my advice is just to listen when we do express ourselves, acknowledge the suckiness of the situation, and avoid platitudes at all costs.