Friday, October 29, 2010

Neither Here Nor There

I read a couple of great blog posts this week that really got me thinking about the whole "them and us" thing around those still coping with infertility / pregnancy loss and those who are parents. Loribeth's post Facebook and the Great Parental Disconnect and the several linked items are both amusing and poignant and remind me of the times when various form of social networking have brought me to tears with unexpected photos, news etc. Over at Waiting for a Baby Bump, Separated from the Wolf Pack made me cry because it so completely reflected my feelings of being left out as more and more friends and relatives became parents while we continued to lose pregnancies and fail cycles.

The Facebook-related post also made me realise that I had posted my scan photo on the last post with no warning. I know that a) not many people are reading my blog anyway and b) many girls who are still in the trenches of IF/pregnancy loss will be avoiding it because it's too painful (I know, because I've been there myself). But still, I should have put a warning in the title for anyone who stumbled in while in a vulnerable place. It also made me wonder about the bump photo I put on Facebook the other week - although I did think quite hard before I put it on and decided that it was probably OK as ALL of my friends know what our path to this point has been and the one friend that I know has had issues with TTC has OKed such communications on FB - I checked first. But still, I have a lingering feeling of guilt about it - and then I feel sad about not being able to enjoy these little things in the way that the vast majority of my friends have done.

Anyhow, the main point of this post is to process some of the feelings that I have while in this limbo of pregnancy after loss and IF:
  • I am pregnant, but I do not feel like a parent - even though the woman that leads our NCT class calls us mums and dads. I had to laugh when she spoke about the intimacy of parents during the birth process in relation to the "inevitable" intimacy during conception - my husband and I weren't even in the same city when our wee one was conceived!
  • My pregnancy seems to be progressing healthily but I live in daily (hourly!) fear of something going wrong. The two-weekly visits to the high-risk clinic both help with this and serve to remind me that this is not a normal or average pregnancy.
  • Our flat is beginning to fill with baby items that I feel extremely ambivalent about - I hope we'll need them - and I even experienced brief feelings of pleasure when buying them / getting them from relatives and friends - but I'm aware we may never get to use them and I am very superstitious about having them before we have the baby.
  • I am now regularly meeting with other pregnant women and hearing about births and continue to feel jealous - their pregnancies (in general) came easily, are low-risk and they don't know the desperately sad stories that I do about what can go wrong in pregnancy and birth.
  • Friends who previously avoided talking to me about pregnancy (or avoided talking to me altogether at times!) now want to have in-depth conversations about topics ranging from nappies to pain-relief during childbirth to bre.astfeeding. Part of me wants to pick up all the tips I can, part of me is terrified to listen (after all, it might jinx my pregnancy!) and a very big part of me feels angry and upset that I am only included now because I'm part of "the club".
It's that last one that made the "Separated from the Wolf Pack" post feel so relevant. I am unbelievably grateful to be pregnant (and especially to be this pregnant - a stage I've never achieved before). And I know that these people mean well when they are giving me their advice and sharing their experiences. And honestly, I could write a book about how to get pregnant and about pregnancy loss, but I have no clue about being pregnant or having a newborn, so I should probably listen to them. And I have moments of happiness that I can have these conversations at last and feel part of something I never thought I would experience. Being able to talk to my mother and sister about pregnancy has been very special - they always supported me through the tough times. BUT . . . I do have moments where I want to ask some of these people why they couldn't be as chatty and supportive when my heart was breaking and I felt terribly alone. And I have moments of rather unpleasant clarity that my new-found position among my fertile friends depends entirely on a successful pregnancy and birth - if early losses can send people running as fast as mine did, I can only imagine what a very late one would do! Although, maybe I am being unfair. Maybe it is the "invisibility" of an early loss that makes it so hard for others to cope with - I don't know - that's a whole other post (or 20)!

The one place I have found true comradeship is among my friends - IRL and online - who have been through IF / pregnancy loss and are now pregnant or have kids through natural conception (does that really happen), IVF, donor eggs or adoption. They understand that very uncomfortable mixture of joy and terror that a post-IF/loss pregnancy or possible adoption brings. They were fantastically supportive while I was still trying and an absolute Godsend since this cycle worked.

Last week I went along to a "Pregnancy After Loss" support group in the same place I used to attend the miscarriage support group and then the infertility support group, where I met most of these lovely people I now call friends. There was only one other girl there and she had only found out that she was pregnant the day before the meeting. She had had one early loss and a late one at 21 weeks. I felt a bit of a fraud alongside her - while I've had a lot of losses and a lot of trouble getting pregnant, my body has been ruthlessly efficient at getting rid of pregnancies and that caused me a lot of pain but spared me a lot more. I tried to blink away tears as she described her birth story and the memorial for her little girl. It breaks my heart when I hear or read stories like hers.

There are a couple of bloggers I read who are living childless and who have lost pregnancies late on, and the further through my pregnancy I get, the more I admire them for just being able to breathe and get out of bed. I came to their blogs because I was coming to the point where I thought I was going to be living a childless life (and trust me, I am not making any assumptions that I won't still be!) and it was that aspect of their blogs that I focused on - I needed to know that not having children wasn't going to kill me (because, I admit that there were times when I really couldn't see the point of life without children). Time and reading blogs like theirs gave me perspective and, ironically, not long before we had the DE cycle, I came to a place where I thought that I might just be able to have a good life without offspring - I even found myself getting excited about things like travel and our new home. And had I not got pregnant on this cycle, or even if I'd had another early loss, I know I would have been OK. Now, I have gone back and read their pregnancy and loss stories and have a whole new perspective on their strength and tenacity. I cannot fathom how I would ever recover from losing this pregnancy now or sometime in the future or losing a child I had birthed.

So here I am. I am not comfortable in the world of fertiles - and I certainly don't consider myself one of them. I am feeling separated from my infertile friends who are still trying and missing them and wishing and wishing that something would work for them. I still have a few friends who get where I am right now because they're there too (or have been recently). But more than anything else, I have an ever-increasing respect for a group of women whose shoes I have not walked in, who have lost their babies at a point where they had seen a heartbeat on an ultrasound, felt them move, bought nursery furniture for them or had actually given birth to them, whether they were stillborn or died after birth. I have been invited to attend our local SANDS Christmas service and I hope to go and say a special thank you for the baby I am carrying now and a prayer for those who have lost theirs. And I never, ever forget how very fragile happiness can be.

1 comment:

Roccie said...

What magnificent clarity this provides to how you are feeling. I wish you could move past this stage, but I remember how terrifying pregnancy after loss is every single day. It will take a lot of work to get there.