One of the many difficult things about infertility is the feeling that you are standing still while everyone else is moving forward with their lives. While many of my contemporaries have now completed their PhDs, and in some cases even published their first monographs, I instead embarked on a gruelling round of tests and treatments. Over the past six years, I have stood by and watched while many of my RL friends have gone on to have babies. One of my closest friends, who started trying after we did, now has a son of school age and a daughter aged three.
Even here in the IF blogosphere, it is impossible to escape the feeling of being left behind. I know of several women who started blogging at around the same time as I did who are now parenting. Two women who were cycling when I was undergoing my first round of IVF have just given birth.
Lisa recently wrote an excellent post on this very topic, in which she described her reactions to hearing the news that another woman who has been dealing with infertility is now pregnant. She acknowledged that, although she is happy for them, she also struggles with her own feelings of sadness: I no longer think "I hope I can join them soon". My thoughts now are "why did it work for them when it won't work for me?" It's a reminder that these treatments can work....that they should work. So, why not me? I think I've tried hard enough. I think I've done everything I've been told. I think I've paid my dues. So, why not me?
I think that anyone who has ever been through a cancelled or failed cycle can relate to these feelings. But, as hard as it is to hear of other people's pregnancies, it can be even harder to continue to support those who have crossed over to the 'other side'. Sometimes it is simply too painful to look at pictures of scans and bumps, or to be confronted by one of those ghastly animated ticker things counting down exactly how many days are left until their little bundle of joy arrives. And, although I do feel guilty about it, I find that, in many cases, I simply stop reading. I can no longer really relate to what these women are going through. I have no opinion to offer when they ask for advice on what stroller to buy, or what colour they should paint the nursery.
On one level, I envy those who are able to make such a smooth transition from 'infertile' to 'pregnant'. For me, the journey is altogether more complicated. Over the past six years, my infertility has become - for better or worse - part of who I am. I cannot simply switch off those feelings.
And so I am struggling with the whole question of what it means to be pregnant after infertility and loss. How do I write about my pregnancy while remaining sensitive to the feelings of those who are still in the trenches? How much can any of you really bear to hear? Is there still room for me in the IF blogosphere? I am, after all, the woman who cried 'diminished ovarian reserve' and then managed to get herself knocked up without medical intervention. So many of you who read and comment on my blog have been through more than I can possibly imagine. I am humbled in the face of your strength and courage, and cannot help but feel guilty that I should have been the one to have unwrapped the bar that contained the golden ticket.