I met with an especially warm friend today for lunch at our favorite spot. We met for the first time in that neighborhood just prior to my first IVF round. We have continued to meet in the same restaurant (at practically the same table) about every two weeks ever since, well, except for over the summer when she was busy selling her house and moving to a new one. We met online in a discussion thread about IVF on cincymoms.com. I consider it a great friendship that blossomed from a sad topic. We've shared everything about our respective fertility struggles. It's all we talk about at our lunches. We've joked about how it seems to be our bi-monthly 'therapy session' since we are able to vent the things to each other that we fear others may not be able to understand.
A couple of those things resurfaced during our lengthy lunch this afternoon. In the past, I would have kept the conversation to myself after leaving our 'therapy session table', but now I'm vowing to lay my honesty out on this blog, so here goes...
We talked about how we feel when we learn that someone we know just got pregnant, or how it feels to be in the presence of pregnant women. We confessed to one another that it makes us feel resentful, angry, repelled and just rotten inside. Then we posed the question to ourselves... Why do react like this?
The first and most obvious answer is that we're just plain envious. It's torturous to be around someone who has something we want so much and have had so much trouble attaining. The second blow is that most of these women got pregnant easily and naturally. The third hard knock is how infuriating it can be when they complain about their physical state. We agreed that we would give anything to experience morning sickness, shortness of breath, fatigue, feeling fat...anything just to be pregnant. The final kicker is when they talk about how much they LOVE the feeling of being pregnant. When the baby kicks and turns and watching their belly move. We smile along because that's what you're supposed to do. However, to us it feels like a sucker-punch right in the gut...or uterus. It hurts terribly, and we feel the jealousy rise up as we have been longing to know those feelings for SO LONG.
What makes the envy even worse is the guilt and shame we feel about ourselves for having these emotions. It can really make you feel like an ugly person on top of all the pain that already exists from the infertility. So the only way we have coped with it is by avoiding pregnant friends, family members, and saying "ugh!" under our breath in the grocery store when we see a baby bump.... Turn the cart and head the other way!! Steer clear of the baby isle though!! ...The world is filled with land mines that are all capable of bringing that angry, resentful person to the surface. One pregnancy sighting can ruin your whole day!
Another thing is the aversion I've had to babies. It hurts to be near them so I went out of my way to avoid all contact. I would avert my eyes and do everything in my power to avoid having to hold a child. Great huh?
Several months ago after acknowledging this about myself it occurred to me, in the twilight state between consciousness and sleep, that there's a good chance that no unborn baby spirit would ever choose my angry body to grow in. It was that moment that my eyes opened wide and I realized that I needed to make some changes.
Since then I've attended a baby's 1st birthday party. I've held my friend's precious newborn daughter, and I've joined a fundraising group that benefits Cincinnati's Children's Hospital. Also I make it a point to smile at pregnant women and babies when I see them in public. It still hurts sometimes, but I believe adjusting my attitude could possibly change my karma.
I'm learning to accept that infertility has become something that will always be a part of me even if we are fortunate enough to get through this IVF with a pregnancy. I've spent so long in this that I know it's not going to just fade away with a conception. It leaves a scar inside us, and that's OK. I just need to remember to stay focused on how I let it affect me. I can let it glorify the angry person inside, or I can use it as a challenge to work on myself. I choose the latter!
For the first time in my life the babies out there are smiling back at me. Maybe they were smiling all along, but I was too jaded to look at them. Now my eyes are wide open and so is my heart.