Dear partner, this is why pregnancy announcements hurt…..Dec 19, 2022
One of the hardest things, when you’re going through infertility or loss, is watching other people getting pregnant. It hurts so much and can send us into a spiral for weeks on end. There is so much shame, guilt, sadness, jealousy, and anger we experience along the way.
But those who haven’t been through it, don’t understand. And even though our partners are going through this with us, they tend to process it a little differently than us.
We spend so much time and energy trying to explain why it hurts, and why we can’t separate our feeling out. But it never seems to connect. And it’s exhausting.
So here is a letter I have written to try to explain the emotions I was going through when we were deep inside our infertility journey, and I would see yet another pregnancy announcement. It is a letter to my husband. So, if you’ve been struggling with how to explain it to your partner, or even your family or friends, and would like to feel understood, feel free to share this letter with them.
I want to share something I’ve been struggling with lately. I know if I try to explain it in person, I’ll mix up my words, I’ll start crying, and I’ll probably get angry too.
But I really need you to hear me on this one – because very few people understand, apart from those who are also trying in vain to have a baby. Whenever I try to convey how I’m feeling about this, I get really defensive because I guess I’m trying to justify how I react, and I’m actually worried that this makes me a bad person. So here goes.
When I see other people getting pregnant around me, it physically hurts. It feels like I’ve been stabbed in the stomach. I start to hyperventilate and I’m thrown into a downward spiral of jealousy, sadness, and fear.
I’m scared that we’re being left behind.
I’m scared I’ll no longer be able to relate to my friends and family, who are joining a club I’m not a member of (and don’t know whether I ever will).
It feels like the whole world is moving forward, and in that moment when a friend tells me they are pregnant, it feels like I’m stuck in quick-sand.
My fear quickly turns to panic. Then anger. I’m not angry that they are pregnant. I’m furious that I am not. But it gets so mixed up that it feels like I’m angry at them. It may even sound like it, from the words spilling out of my mouth. But when I get into that downward spiral, there is no stopping it. Logic has left the building.
I cannot separate my feelings out.
Then when you look at me with shock, or if you tell me that their pregnancy has nothing to do with ours (or lack thereof), it starts a few things rolling inside me. Firstly, there is a deep shame. I already feel like there is something wrong with me. I used to be happy when other people got pregnant. But now I fear the thought of another person receiving their baby before me. That’s seriously messed up. I know it. But when you look at me like I AM a bad person, it breaks my heart. I mourn the woman that I once was, and the women you deserve to be with.
After I move through that cycle of shame, self-punishment and self-doubt, it usually turns to red-hot rage. At you. Because I feel so misunderstood. Because I feel judged (mainly by myself), but then you confirm it.
I know it’s not your fault. I’m sure you’re trying your best to understand this through my eyes. So I try to justify it to you. But the more I justify my anger, the more the words coming out of my mouth sound crazy. So let me see if I can explain it now.
When I see a pregnancy announcement, all the trauma and sadness I have been through up until now comes flooding back – all at once. It’s like a tsunami. In that moment I reflect upon OUR situation. And then my mind wanders to the years we have wasted trying to conceive, the millions of negative pregnancy tests, the miscarriages, the IVF treatments, the money, the exploratory surgeries, the friendships I’ve lost, and it’s too much to bear.
In that moment, I feel so much sadness and grief for everything we have lost. I feel guilty I cannot provide you with a baby.
I am sick of waiting. I am jealous that someone is getting quite easily, what we have been fighting for, for so long. It’s just not fair.
Now before you start trying to compare your reactions with mine, please understand that while we are walking the same path, our experiences and the way we handle things may be completely different. That book, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus is correct. We do not think the same way. I wish I could separate my feelings the way you can, but as a woman I am highly emotional. And not in a bad way. This is how we were made.
You may also think that it’s just me who reacts like this because you don’t see others spiraling like I do. Please don’t compare my reactions to people we know who are struggling with infertility. They are only showing you the exterior and public façade. The same way we “fake it” when people ask us how we’re doing, they are doing exactly the same thing. So, when you wonder why I’m not handling it as well as someone else, perhaps I am.
I am sorry that I’m not the same person I was when we first met. But this journey has changed me.
So what can you do to support me through this?
When you hear that someone has gotten pregnant, please don’t hide it from me. Because I already feel pitied and weak. I’m already self-conscious that everyone is talking behind my back. I already feel alone. A pregnancy announcement is always going to have a sting to it, so I ask that you share it with me as soon as you find out.
Please don’t look at me like I am crazy. And even if you don’t understand everything that is going on inside me, tell me that you love me. And that we’re in this together.
Please don’t judge me or tell me how I should be feeling. It’s important that you don’t try to fix me either. And as uncomfortable as it may make you feel, just sit with me silently in my rollercoaster of emotions. Hold me while I cry.
Please take my side. Fight for me. Defend me. Stand by my side.
Seeing other people get what we want is hard. It isn’t because you’re a bad person. Nor are you losing your mind.
I hear you, and you are not alone.
AND if you’d like to give your partner or friends and family the full birds' eye view of what is really going on inside your head, you can give them a copy of my book, The Injustice of Infertility to read. A brutal and honest account of what it’s like to struggle with infertility. It’s available for purchase from any of the major online book retailers, or to get a sneak peek, head HERE.
Would you like to know more about how you can work with me, so you can get back control of your life and start moving forward? My 1:1 coaching program is packed with information, tools and support. Find out how you can get on the wait list now.
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