It’s been said that as soon as you have a baby, everything changes.
That’s true in some ways. I understand now that you can love something in a completely different and terrifying way. I am perfectly okay with being woken up in the middle of the night now. I don’t think women who nurse their kids until they’re two are weird anymore. I have supersonic hearing (but only if I’m listening for a baby’s cries). And a whole lot of stuff that once seemed very important is just… well, it’s not important anymore.
One thing hasn’t changed. I wrote about it in a blog called “Anger Becomes Her” back when I was in the throes of my own infertility, right after our IVF fresh cycle failed. It’s extremely common — in fact, that blog is one of my more popular entries and gets read a LOT.
But even with my own little Peanut approaching nine months, crawling like crazy around my house, I still have moments where I revert emotionally to those difficult days when infertility was my life, day in and day out.
I can’t stop that little pang of anger and resentment from stabbing me in the gut when I find out that someone I know — a friend, a family member, or a casual acquaintance — started trying to get pregnant and succeeded really, really quickly.
(I’m not proud of it. In fact it makes me feel like an awful person.)
Take the newlyweds whose wedding I attended in June and were pregnant by August. (“Calm down,” I tell myself.” She’s only 25 years old, she’s at peak fertility! Of course she got pregnant easily.”) Or the friend my age that hit a hole-in-one on her first cycle off the pill. (“Grrr…. lucky bitch!”)
On the flipside, when I meet a kindred spirit — a woman who’s struggling, or a man whose significant other is having trouble — I am excited to welcome someone new into the fold. I don’t wish infertility on anyone. But when a friend is having trouble and comes to me, I love trying to help — by sharing my story, offering advice, recommending a good doctor, or giving the heads-up on what to expect with IVF.
I try to think of a good analogy, and I can’t. A bad analogy is the best I can do. It has a few vague similarities to teenage acne (I said it was bad, shut up). Remember your best girlfriend in 8th grade, and her flawless creamy complexion? Meanwhile, you were covering your face in green goop (which went under your foundation to neutralize redness) and crying in front of the mirror every night.
You were envious of what she had, and how easily it came to her. Sometimes, on those nights when the mirror shared only bad news, you hated her. Just a little bit. Even though deep down you really liked her.
When a new girl started at school, her forehead and cheeks spotted and speckled like yours, a tiny ray of sunshine warmed your heart, just for an instant. You didn’t wish acne on the beauty queens of the class (okay maybe you did… I certainly did, in my worst moments). But you were happy to meet someone who could understand.
Even after you have a baby, if you’ve been through infertility, you’ll always be “an infertile.” You might be an infertile with two children, but you’re still an ART survivor.
Infertility changes you. It changes your outlook on making babies (and other things too). It taints your feelings toward every pregnant woman you meet. You either hate her a little (because it was really F’ing easy), you envy her a little (because she tried and failed for a while, but got it done naturally in the end), or you relate to her (because she’s struggling and you know how those shoes feel).
Infertility leaves its mark. Sometimes it’s a battle scar you’re proud to show off. Other times, it’s embarrassing, but hopefully, the people closest to you can understand your need to pout a little.
And they won’t get upset if you call them a lucky bitch.
Thank you for this. You know what I’ve been up against, and I don’t consider myself to even be in the “super bitter, been trying for years crowd”. That being said, I would say “easy” and “quick” is not in my vocabulary. Just yesterday I of course saw someone who is a pretty close friend – who’s wedding I JUST went to this winter, posting how “baby is due in Nov” and I just was so bitter and wanted to cry. That may be partly the hormones I’m taking but, I’m turning really bitter!! Part of me wishes that everyone had to have at least a little bit of difficulty so they have some actual common sense and understanding for what others may be dealing with.
Thanks for writing this article. I’ve been going through the same issues. When people around me are able to conceive before me, I feel super envious of them. Especially, because we started TTC a couple of years before they did.