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When I was 33, an unexpected pregnancy forced the “where do we see this relationship going” talk. My partner and I weren’t planning on the pregnancy but realized that we loved and were committed to each other, so we said, “Why not?”
Then… a miscarriage. A few months later I got pregnant again and… another miscarriage. We suddenly realized that sustaining a pregnancy may not be easy for me. We started trying in earnest to have a child.
Month after month I purchased pregnancy tests, testing way too early, convincing myself I had to be pregnant. Month after month I was not. We finally got a pregnancy to stick a couple years later. A day before my 12-week ultrasound (the one that people traditionally wait for to announce their pregnancies) I started bleeding heavily and headed to the ER. Another miscarriage.
I was on message boards at the time, of course. There’s something about trying for that first pregnancy and the community an anonymous message board brings. Until you are no longer part of that community because you no longer have a pregnancy about which to commiserate. I made the toxic choice to stay on my pregnancy board anyway, quietly watching the women whose club I used to be a part of continue talking about their journeys.
I’m not proud to admit that I began to hate those women. Every complaint, every frustration, every thought they divulged seemed trivial to me. I couldn’t understand why anyone would complain about any aspect of pregnancy when they were lucky enough to have one. I had no sympathy. I had no business being on that board.
Every woman I saw in the street with multiple children incensed me. Four! She has four kids? And I can’t even have one? Fuck you, Mother Nature. Every new pregnancy announcement seemed to chip away at my chance of ever becoming pregnant myself; it’s as if I thought there were a set number of pregnancies allowed, and every time someone “got one” it meant less chance for me. The complete loss of control over something that was so important to me was filling me with anger, jealousy and resentment.
Five years after that first miscarriage, I finally gave birth to a healthy baby boy. I began writing about parenting a year later. Over the last few years on the various parenting sites where I have written or read, I’ve met my former self — several times. She usually comes in the form of someone playing the suffering olympics on a post about loss — hers is always worse somehow. Or she pops up in a post that’s meant to be read with humor and levity to remind the author how lucky she is to even have a child. How could anyone complain or be frustrated when they have the thing that I want so bad?
I see you, woman who is trying so hard to keep it together but can’t stop the pain from overflowing on the page occasionally. I understand you. I know not everyone’s infertility story ends with a happy ending, but rest assured that someone else’s pregnancy does not chip away at your chances at having one, yourself.
I didn’t notice what the pain of infertility was doing to me when I was in it. But now I see that struggling with infertility turned me into a mean girl. I’m not proud of it, but we build walls when we go through tough things in life. Mine was built with judgment, jealousy, and anger.
You have every right to feel shitty, depressed, and sad. But try not to let a struggle with infertility turn you into a mean girl.
Related post: The 8 Biggest Misconceptions About Infertility