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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Stuck Between Two Worlds: Pregnancy After Infertility

Countless blog entires and chat room conversations deal with the deep isolation that comes with infertility. The inability to share one's fears and struggles can be debilitating on numerous aspects of one's life. Many of us take solace in our fellow infertile friends we've made through social networking and blogging. It's a tight knit community that allows for meaningful bonds to be formed, where one's sadness is met with endless words of support and virtual hugs.

And then one day, someone finally gets the much desired BFP. It is a day of celebration, shared on some level by everyone. Words of congratulations and excitement are passed around. One of us has finally made it to the other side of the dark tunnel, opening the door for more hope to be experienced by others, and that someday, we will all meet on the other side. Unfortunately, the good news doesn't happen to all at the same time. Some, most, are left behind.

As the initial beta numbers turn into updates of heart beats and ultrasounds, you may find yourself in a different type of isolation: after countless months/years of TTC, you know better than to announce to the world you're pregnant at 7 weeks. And yet, you're also no longer experiencing the grueling day to day of infertility treatments. This infertility to pregnancy purgatory can feel endless and lonely.

There is no right way to move on to this next chapter. There is no magical moment when suddenly you can proudly announce to the world that you too are with child. That time of accepting your undeniable luck can take weeks and even months (it took me over 5 months to finally admit that I was really going to have a baby). Meanwhile, you tread lightly. Trying to take everyday as it comes. Finding friends who can support you during this time can be even harder than finding friends who are coping with infertility. (Early) pregnancy after infertility can ironically turn into a time of longing for the camaraderie you'd shared for so long with other infertiles. Meanwhile, those who are still in the trenches assume that you must be in complete bliss, but in truth you're living in great fear; fear of having to start all over again, fear of finding out that you never "graduated."

My advice would be to find a couple of people (close friends or family) who have been there for you in real life through the tough times (doesn't have to be limited to IF struggles). Sharing the news with someone will encourage you to begin to embrace this new chapter. Don't deny yourself the right to be happy. And remember those who are still struggling and don't forget what it felt like to be in their shoes -- all of those dreadful pregnancy announcements on Facebook are still just as unacceptable now as they were then. Stay in touch with your IF friends and continue to offer as much support as is asked of you. Yes, you will indeed lose touch with many of them (either be it their choice or just the evolution of life), but some will remain your friends forever.

Being pregnant after infertility doesn't mean you no longer belong to the infertility community, it simply means you are a symbol of hope to many and an advocate for infertility to a new community -- the pregnant/parenting community. You still carry a responsibility to raise awareness for the 7.3 million who are still fighting to have a family of their own.

13 comments:

kkasun said...

I am so glad yu wrote this post. I am 13 weeks and I was so happy to get my BFP, but terrified to post it on my blog. Everyone was supportive, but I still feel bad about posting the good news sometimes.
It is a tough place to be in, a happy place but a tough one!

Marly said...

you are right, you still do belong to the community but you are just now a success story for all your other sistas out there struggling, :D

Keya said...

What a wonderful post! I am 8+ weeks pregnant after IUI. I did announce it on my blog, but with great trepidation. But I am truly terrified that something will go wrong. My husband and I were in denial, till we saw the HB at 6 wks. Now that its been two weeks since then, I am once again in denial - afraid that all is not well. Telling close family helped to digest the the fact that this is for real - but only for a short time. I am back to being worried. I would love to enjoy the first tri like all my friends did - excited, elated, but we can't seem to. My husband and I never even talk about it...like talking about it might jinx it.
I hope it changes, I hope I can start to feel happy soon, but I keep telling myself that i'll wait to be happy after the next u/s.
Its tough - and nothing like I ever imagined.

Alex said...

You're right - I do find this post particularly interesting! Thanks for writing this, it's great. It's a tough transition, and a little grace is necessary from both sides. Thanks for reminding us of this!

kayee said...

I completely agree with this. I am 29 wks pregnant from a successful IVF cycle. Even though I got a BFP and did announce on my blog, I finished every sentence with "if this sticks or if this works out" both b/c I was living in fear, but b/c I didn't want to seem naive. It took me until after 20 wks for me to really believe that may happen. Even now, I still feel fear - like I'm not opening any packages for the baby's room ... just in case.
I find myself sometimes apologizing to those who were "in the trenches" with me while facing infertility when I now speak about IF during this the pregnancy. But the reality is that I do belong to that community - IF isn't something that you out grow. It becomes a part of you and you will be forever changed b/c of it. Thanks for writing this.

Baby Steps said...

I love this post and I do think it's important that we all remember "where we came from" and still be just as supportive to each other - no matter where we are on this journey.

Beautiful post and such a great reminder!~

Augusta said...

This is an excellent post! I feel like so often, I have read blogs of recently pregnant infertile women who struggle SO MUCH with this aspect of the experience. It sounds like a no(wo)man's land, quite frankly. I am hoping to experience it myself first hand soon, but who's to tell how my story evolves. One thing is for sure, if I do get to experience pregnancy, I will re-read this post. Thanks again.

fateofthechocolatechipcookies said...

Thanks for posting this blog. I am still on the not-pregnant side of the journey and often wonder what people do once they graduate to early pregnancy, etc. I appreciate your sensitivity and your advice. All the best with you!

DeterminedDory said...

I'm so thankful for this post because it really validates the way I've been feeling. I'm 35 weeks pregnant after a short but drastic battle with MFI and I STILL am racked with feelings of guilt that I made it out of the hole while my blog reader is filled with the daily heartache of folks who are still trying. Of all the blog friends I've made, I'm the only one who was able to have a biological child, and I do feel guilty writing about this miracle I've been given. My blog readership went from over 100 hits a day during my IVF treatments to now only about 20 every time I post. I do feel a little abandoned by the people who once supported my journey, even though I understand their need to protect themselves. I try to keep reading and supporting others as they go through their own journeys, but I am afraid that my comments may do more harm than help just because of my own success. Anyways, I really appreciate the idea that I'm now an advocate for infertility in the parenting/pregnancy circle. It's hard to define my place in the world at the moment, but that sounds like a pretty good one to me! I also hope that my story, even though it was a rare miracle, can give some hope to somebody else, to at least know that it is possible.

infertilerevolutionary said...

thanks for posting this. it inspired me to post on my own blog after a hiatus.

swimmingcircles said...

well put. And if I may, there's nothing quite as emasculating as not being able to do what "real men" are supposed to be able to do. So when the bundle comes, we do face similar issues among our small, yet determined, male community. It's thorny all around.

foxy said...

very well said.
I was so unprepared for the feelings I experienced after recently getting our positive. I am determined to love every minute of this experience, but it is hard to navigate through what does feel a bit like no(wo)man's land as Augusta described.

It really hit me when I started looking at "normal' due date forums, and quickly realized that I was not at all comfortable among all of the 'Surprise!" pregnancies. The entire conversation was different.

Thank goodness for Resolve, and for this amazing blog community, there is a place for everyone to give and receive support.

Anand said...

So glad to see this post on pregnancy after infertility

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