Saturday, March 22, 2014

Infertility: Dealing with a world full of pregnant people

You know the feeling. The one where Every. Single. Person that you know or ever have known or ever will know is pregnant. I hear what you're thinking. The grumbling you're doing under your breath. Your hesitation before clicking the "Like" button on yet another "happy announcement." Believe me, I have been there. I've been to Infertile Myrtle Town, Population 1. I get it.

After the first year, when it became crystal clear that it wasn't going to be as easy to get pregnant as it seemed on TV (I blame Sixteen and Pregnant and Maury Povich.), I really started to dread people announcing their pregnancies. It grew from a little sad feeling in my heart to a big gaping wound to a very dark place where nothing could grow, much less a baby. Every gushing status on Facebook was a direct assault on my inability to create a human being. Every sympathetic look in my direction when someone announced a pregnancy in my presence was a reminder that I was "other." I was "broken."

Here we are several years in, and I still feel the little pangs when every day brings two (sometimes even three!) announcements on my social media. I know what you're saying, "You adopted! Why are you worried about that?"  Adopting has nothing to do with infertility, really. Infertility is a thief, stealing all of the ideas and plans you had for how your life would be, how your family would grow. Adoption is the giver. Infertility is about not being able to do something that women have done since time began, to not be able to feel a baby move inside you or see an ultrasound that doesn't have anything to do with endometriosis or PCOS or what-have-you. It's okay to be sad about that.

It doesn't mean I wish YOU weren't pregnant. It doesn't mean I'm not happy for YOU. In fact, I'm now in a place where I can genuinely rejoice in the pregnancies of my best friends and the births of their children. (Shout out to my homie, Audrey, who is the BEST and most thoughtful pregnant person I know! Holla!)  It just means I struggle. We all do. If we're honest with ourselves, we'll tell you that opening Facebook in the morning can be like opening an unmarked package making vague ticking noises.

So how do I deal?

  • We've all got "that" friend on Facebook. The one who says things without thinking (Gosh, getting pregnant was so easy!), the one who shares every single minute moment of their pregnancy every day (You can't stand the smell of water? Nobody cares. Except your mom. Maybe.)  Instead of letting that get under your skin and fester, unfollow her posts on your newsfeed. You can be happy for her and still not have to torture yourself. It's not healthy. (But if YOU are that over-sharer. Seriously? Help us out here. Before you hit the submit button, ask yourself, "Who is my audience? Is what I am saying just blatantly insensitive?")
  • Vent. Journal it, blog it, write a letter and burn it. Do what you have to do to get it out of your system. I've done a combination of all of the above at some point. It helps. The more it goes unsaid, the more isolating it is.
  • Don't feel pressured to comment on every person's posts. They won't notice if you didn't congratulate them. Frankly, YOUR congratulations aren't the most important part of the announcement. That said, if you know someone has struggled/had a loss and is celebrating a pregnancy, reach out. When we announced our adoption, people came out of the woodwork, because they knew how momentous it was for us. It meant the world. But if this person isn't even really a good friend and you're feeling pretty bitter, don't get involved unless absolutely necessary. It'll only rub salt in your wounds and open the door to discussions that you may not be emotionally ready to get involved in, "Oh Em Gee, I just don't know what I'm going to do! We weren't even trying!"  
  • Grace. Do you hear me? Think about this now. I know you're hurting, and even the most Zen/Christian person in the world is subject to the Green Eyed Monster.  But give yourself (and them) some grace. Most of these women just don't know, and thank God! I wouldn't wish infertility/loss on any woman. Not even my worst enemy. Grieve, love yourself, protect your spirit...But don't forget that they are just women. Not better. Not more. Not monsters. Just women. 
  • Be patient with yourself. Even I, after all these years, can get overwhelmed with it. I just take a step back and remind myself of all of the above. I give myself permission to BIO (Bitch It Out) with my friends, and then I get back in there. It's a journey. It doesn't have a road map. It zigs and zags, and I occasionally end up in a place that I thought I'd left year's ago. I just dust myself off and keep going. 

Most importantly, recognize that you must grow from this. Whatever you have to do to grow/heal/progress, you have to do that. For me, it was being honest about what I was going through, instead of hiding it away like a dirty secret. It was allowing myself to stop becoming emotionally involved in every pregnancy shared. 

Once I did that, I was able to start differentiating from the women who were lording their pregnancies over the masses like they were about to give birth to the second coming of Einstein with the face of Channing Tatum and the ones who were just sharing the simple joy of a growing life.

Ignore the former, embrace the latter. 

Clear as mud, right?

If you're interested in more of my posts about infertility, check out "Do's and Don'ts of Infertility."


  1. Thank you for this post. It's good to hear other people struggle with some of the same stuff I do. When I lost my daughter I went through a time where encountering a mother and baby was so painful that I would end up desperately trying to escape the situation before I broke down. When my close friend had her baby shortly after, it was months before I could hold him. All this is hard to explain to someone who hasn't been there without sounding like a gremlin, but you said it perfectly! Well done.

  2. I'm so familiar with the gremlin feeling! It's a woman thing. We are conditioned for politeness and to put others first. Not always the most emotionally healthy choice. The grace with which you and Michael handled the loss of your beautiful girl was inspiring. It takes a kind of strength that not everyone has to walk thru that. Thanks for your support!

  3. I just wanted to say that this hit home with me and I'm so glad I came across it though someone else's FB! I have been so secret about my struggles but I'm starting to feel like i need to share.... maybe ill blog about it soon. I too have had to block people from my news feed or delete them all together for my sanity and I've skipped a couple of baby showers for this reason. And nothing worse than hearing someone complaining about AF when you're wishing more than anything that yours would show up for the first time in a year so you wouldn't feel so broken :( Anyway, thanks for sharing and motivating me to be a little more open about it!

  4. Laura, I definitely know how you feel, and I am so sorry that you have to go through this. Infertility is one of the greatest challenges that I've faced as a woman. I will say that my outlook changed dramatically when I became more open about it. I felt like a light had been shined into a dark room, and I was able to connect with so many wonderful people feeling the same way as me (like you!), who had also been hiding their struggle. If you decide to blog, let me know, so I can follow your story, sister!


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