After a 5 year journey to conceive a child, including being told that we would not be able to have our own biological child, our miracle occurred. I am currently 37 weeks pregnant with a little girl, through the IVF/ICS process. It seems however, that even when infertility becomes a thing of your past and you now have a fertility story, it never really leaves you.
With every day, as my belly has grown, with every kick as our girl develops, and every milestone we reach to ensure this has been a viable pregnancy I am torn between screaming from the roof tops and sitting with this feeling of guilt.
This guilt exists from being a fertility success story.
A lot of time and energy gets put into trying to conceive, there are countless tears, and heartbreaks. Your world really does evolve around it. Eventually a new normal is formed, you create a (sometimes new) support network, your perspective is altered and consequently this becomes an identifier. All of this becomes a badge of pain you wear, that others in the same ‘club’ resonate with. Nobody else understands the struggle, and how utterly earth shattering it is unless you have walked in those shoes, and so what happens when you move to the other side? Who do you identify with when you have conceived? Which group do you belong to now? You really do feel as though you have betrayed your fellow infertility warriors.
A lot of these questions have been swirling in my head over the last few months, along with not wanting to inflict any pain on others. When so many people (1 in 4) struggle with fertility in some way, shape or form, how did we get so lucky? I still have friends battling through this painful journey and on top of feeling guilt that I am no longer on that side of the ledger, I do not want to compound their pain by exposing them to more pregnancy news, posts, photos or milestones. I feel as though I am walking such a fine line sometimes, with wanting to celebrate and be present in every second of this pregnancy and wanting to just keep it within the privacy of our own home.
In a lot of ways, it is similar to survivor’s guilt. Survivor’s guilt is the self-guilt one suffers when they survive a tragedy, while others do not. With it comes a lot of questioning around ‘why did I survive?’ ‘do I deserve to survive?’ Along with a very real need to prove that you either did or didn’t deserve to survive, depending on one’s frame of mind. I don’t want to seem like I am being over dramatic, as it has not been my life on the line, but I am sure you understand where I am coming from with this comparison.
Working through this, and the questions it has raised here are my current thoughts:
– I will always be a part of the infertility community. I lived that struggle. I understand what it is like.
– It doesn’t have to be one or the other.
– I am a success story which can hopefully inspire hope to others who are still in their own struggle to have a child – in whatever way that may be.
– I deserve to, and intend to, enjoy every single step of this miracle.
– This does not mean I have to talk about or post every little thing, particularly those things I know caused me pain. I can still have empathy in what I say, post and do.
So, as I move further down my journey, I use all this learning as further stepping stones for this path.
I am an IVF warrior AND a soon to be mother.
Mel H x