Thursday, November 15

When you're not expecting...

This isn't going to be a very nice post, I'm afraid. I'm going to talk about a touchy subject and some people are bound to get offended. So take this as a preface. If you are offended or disagree with me, there's a 90% chance that you haven't been in this situation before. So just say a prayer for everyone else who has and move on. I'm writing this mostly because it's something I've dealt with in the past and am struggling with now. I suspect that I'm not the only person who feels this way, but I don't know many who are willing to admit it because it just doesn't sound nice.

When you are having a hard time getting pregnant, it is really hard to hear that other people are pregnant. Call it good ol' fashioned envy or jealousy, but it's the truth. When we first got married, I was all about having a honeymoon baby. For two years, we tried and tried, and during those two years, I heard from more and more of my newly wed friends about their pregnancies, their babies, their toddlers... and I still wasn't getting pregnant. The doctors couldn't tell me anything helpful, so we just dealt with it and that was that.

As the months went by, and then years, I began to wonder if I was a horrible person or something. Every time a friend posted their "we're expecting" news on Facebook, I had to take a couple of deep breaths to keep from crying. Then I'd say a prayer for their safe pregnancy... and "hide" the story so I didn't have to be reminded of my hurt. I began to hate myself because I thought it was awful that I could be so heartbroken at someone else's happiness.

Well, God eventually blessed us with Greta and eighteen months later, with Joseph. I thought my infertility days were behind me. I became honest-to-goodnessly happy when I heard someone was pregnant, delighted to see their boring sonogram pictures (because really, sonograms are only interesting to the parents and grandparents involved! :) ). What had changed? First of all, trying to conceive and not being able to conceive strikes at the heart of a woman's identity. We can try to gender-neutralize everything to our heart's content, but at the end of the day, the ability to become a mother is at the soul of being a woman. When you feel that you somehow are incapable of exercising this ability, it messes with you as a person. It can make you feel incomplete, like something is missing in you (I'm not talking about children; I'm talking about the ability to become pregnant if you so choose and are so blessed). I'm sure there is a deep, philosophical reason for all this, but that is my layman's explanation. When you feel the lack of something so vital to your identity, it can make you bitter. This, to me, explains why it was so hard for me to be happy when hearing about women who were pregnant when I couldn't get pregnant. This also explains why this feeling completely vanished after I had kids. By having children, I had satisfied that need to know I had the ability to have children.

But it's back! Before the miscarriage/ectopic pregnancy this summer, I'd been doing fine. Joseph had weaned himself, so we were thinking about getting pregnant, but it wasn't urgent. Then I got pregnant and lost the baby, all under rather traumatic circumstances. As a result of the ectopic pregnancy, one of my tubes was removed, which typically lessens one's fertility. Oh joy. For a woman who suffered from sub-par fertility to begin with, a diminution in fertility was just what I needed. (Sarcasm, my friends, sarcasm)

The next cycle of babies is starting up. On one hand, I've been so happy to hear the good news. And on the other hand, it makes me cry when I think too much about it. I'm not actually envious or jealous, which is defined as "sadness at the sight of another's goods and the immoderate desire to acquire them for oneself, even unjustly" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2539). I'm happy that you are pregnant and sad that I am not. I don't want your baby; I want my own baby. Does that make sense? 

So for all the lucky people blessed with an abundance of fertility.... Congratulations and all the rest. I'm praying for you, for an easy pregnancy, an easy delivery, and a happy and healthy baby. Just please have a heart for those who are trying to get pregnant and it isn't as easy for them. When you share the "big news" with us, do so gently. Don't be apologetic, but if you make it too much of a surprise, it may be harder for us to act completely delighted. We are happy for you, we want to hear all about your pregnancy and how you're feeling, but try to empathize with the feeling that your pregnancy is a very poignant reminder that we're not pregnant and are having trouble being so. This isn't to say don't talk about your pregnancy... that often makes things worse. Just be sensitive and say a prayer for us. If you've been where I am, you understand. If you haven't, pray for those less fortunate than you and be kind.