Last year, I read the blog of a woman who, after years of infertility, had finally become pregnant. She mentioned that though she had sympathy for those who were still struggling with infertility, she could no longer empathize. It was as if the news of her pregnancy had wiped away all the years of pain that she had experienced, seemingly to the point where she could no longer relate to those within the infertile community. I remember reading that, and wondering if the all-consuming pain of childlessness would be completely erased from my memory the minute I held a BFP in my hands. But that hasn’t been my experience. I haven’t forgotten how it feels to be infertile, and as this year’s National Infertility Awareness Week begins, I find myself in the odd position of being completely able to empathize with those trapped in the endless cycle of treatments and two week waits, while feeling simultaneously undeserving of and grateful for the gift of life that God has deigned to give me.
Pregnancy after infertility, in my experience, has been an interesting emotional adventure. I begged God for this for so long, and now that it’s been granted – I find myself wondering why God gave me this gift as opposed to someone who has been waiting longer or someone who has been through more trauma than I in their pursuit of parenthood. When people congratulate me, they sometimes say that I “deserve”this, and though I appreciate that and take it as a compliment – I also know that it is not true. I was given this gift as a grace and a mercy from God. I did nothing to deserve it, just as the childless woman has done nothing to deserve childlessness. I am overwhelmingly grateful. But my gratitude doesn’t negate the fact that there are still so many thousands of women who are in pain, waiting on their miracles. And hundreds whose prayers for miracles will never be answered with a “yes.” The fact that God has seen fit to gift me in this way humbles me, more than you could ever imagine.
Another effect of pregnancy after infertility is my inability to feel completely comfortable with pregnant women for whom pregnancy came easily. As I read books, articles, or forums written by women who got pregnant ‘on cue,’ I find myself feeling alienated. Their light-hearted attitudes toward getting pregnant and their ability to complain with ease about their various pregnancy symptoms seems almost sacrilegious to me! I understand that they are just venting and “being honest,” which they certainly have the right to do, but I can’t make a statement like “I wish I weren’t so sick!” without feeling like I’d be wishing away my child! Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t felt amazing over the course of the past few weeks – but my ability to be consistently grateful for my “ailments” has surprised even me!
I have a heightened sense of fear of things like loss and secondary infertility. It took what feels like an eternity to finally achieve this pregnancy, I would be crushed if I could not carry this child to delivery. And crushed if getting pregnant again took just as long – or longer. So I will cherish every moment of pain, illness, or exhaustion – because who can say that this will ever happen to me again?
Finally, there is a bit of a change of identity. For so long, I subconsciously have identified myself as an infertile. I hoped for a child, but over time I became less and less attached to the idea that it would ever actually happen. Now that is has, I am not sure what to make of things! Honestly, I am still in a bit of shock and disbelief. We’ll see how that sorts itself out over time.
I am still praying and hoping daily for those of you who are where I was. It’s such a tough road, and no one should have to do it alone. I hope that, this week, I can do my part to raise awareness and support for those still fighting to become parents.