Being on the other side of this infertility struggle (the good side) is something that seemed so far away for such a long time. I wish I could say it’s all dream like and wonderful being on this side, but the truth is that the feelings, fear, anxiety, and worry associated with infertility haven’t gone away like I thought they would once I got on this side. Although I have been on the infertility side longer then the pregnancy side, my gut instinct says this is something that isn’t going to go away anytime soon, even with a positive outcome. More truth is that infertility really changed me as a person and if I am honest with myself I know it’s something that I will never truly escape 100% because of how it has affected me. For me, infertility was full of trauma, depression, and loneliness. Although we are expecting and so over the moon happy about finally getting our desired outcome, I still can’t escape some infertility related thoughts and feelings.
The shift from being an infertility patient to a pregnant patient is hard. I still get anxiety every single time I walk into a hospital. When I have appointments for this pregnancy, I feel almost guilty walking in with my pregnant belly fully knowing there are infertility patients sitting there wishing so badly they were in my current shoes. I can also pick out these women plain as day. When my name is called, my heart skips a beat because so many times my name has been called to go back to a room to sit with a doctor/nurse only to be told bad news. I can’t even begin to grasp that lately when my name has been called I am sitting in a room with a Dr/Nurse who has good news for me and I can leave feeling relieved with a smile on my face. So many times I left feeling defeated, worried, and in tears. It’s just so incredibly easy to distrust the good news, rather then relax and feel relief.
I thought once I was pregnant I would feel happy, relieved, and all the feelings experienced with infertility would be gone. Instead of just feeling the joy to it’s fullest, I’m finding it so hard to let go and fully enjoy this experience because of how guarded I am. When people ask me when I’m due, I find myself saying something like, “IF all goes well, in November.” I still stay so very cautiously optimistic about EVERYTHING. When I was pregnant with E I was so excited to start preparing for her and probably at this point I already had a good start with getting prepared. Taking a walk with my husband last night, we were talking about how we haven’t really done a thing yet to prepare for this baby and how we should probably get started. In the back of my mind though, I feel like we need to wait for that next scan to make sure everything is alright. I want to get fully excited about this, but it’s terrifying. I think this is so because we put so much into having this baby-time, energy, love, money, etc that if something happened we really don’t have the means to try again anytime soon.
I also struggle with feelings of guilt. I don’t feel guilty that I am finally pregnant in that it took me a long time to get to this point, but I do struggle with facing women I’ve met along the way who are still struggling. I feel guilt when I complain about even the slightest think about pregnancy-being tired, being in pain, not having energy, etc. I remind myself on these days that there were many days before that I told myself I’d kill to have those complaints. I also find myself very cautious of just openly blurting out that I’m expecting during conversations or chiming in on a pregnancy conversation with strangers. The few times I’ve been in this situation and have mentioned it I always feel the need to explain I went through IVF, so others are aware there was struggle involved as I just never know who could be judging me if I don’t explain that portion.
Then, there is the trauma of infertility. This experience was life shattering. I emotionally felt torn down and exhausted and I physically felt like my body was being invaded-privacy has no part in the infertility world. I still feel like I have a lot to sort out emotionally on my own-it just really rocked my world. The trauma of this all has made intimacy hard with my husband and I feel it will take a while to get back where we were because I just don’t enjoy being touched. It’s hard because I feel like I have gained so much in this journey and am eternally grateful for all this struggle has taught me, yet at the same time I am so bitter about all that it’s robbed from me. It’s affected not only me as a person, but it’s affected family and friendship relationships as well as my marriage.
Although I am supremely grateful to be healthy in my 2nd trimester, one of my biggest fears is that the feelings that my family still isn’t complete after this baby will creep in eventually, and I will want to try for a 3rd and final baby. Could I ever go through this again? Yes, I could. It’s amazing how strong you are when your only choice is to be strong BUT I don’t know that we could afford to do this again anytime soon. It’s just so unfair and I really do not want to re-live this hell again in my lifetime. However, you can’t put a price tag on your baby either. The pure fact that you can’t control these feelings of desire of wanting another baby is hard. I can’t remember how many times I just told my husband how much easier it would be if I was one of those people who just didn’t want a big family-then it would be easy to just be done with one and we wouldn’t be in this mess. However, your heart wants what it wants and I wasn’t about to give up. I know what it’s like to live day in and day out with that feeling and it’s heartbreaking and no way to live.
On a positive note, I know my mixed emotions are natural after going through the circumstances that we went through. It’s coming to terms with everything that is hard. Like everything, I’m a work in progress. Although there are many days when those intense memories of how painful the process was creep in, I can also be so proud of how strong I truly am. I can be proud of all that I’ve learned. I can grateful that this struggle has increased my sensitivity and empathy to other individuals/couples going through it too. Although, survivors guilt creeps in I hope that my story will inspire others struggling and also give them a glimmer of hope. I am grateful that it’s given me a voice for the infertility community and will continue to do what I can to advocate for this community of people. I may wear scars, scars that a a constant reminder of my journey but I know that I can only look back for so long because my feet have to keep moving forward!