For most women, seeing a pregnancy announcement most often fills them with happiness and joy for their newly pregnant friend. And in a perfect world, that’s how we should all feel for friends who get pregnant. But if you are a woman who has dealt with infertility, you may understand what I mean when I say that pregnancy announcements hit us differently. And it can be soul-crushing. I could leave it at that, and I think most would agree. But I think it’s important to unpack to help others understand what being infertile means and how it can affect your emotions for years to come.
The Lasting Effects of Infertility
People always say to me, “Aren’t you happy to be on the other side?” The easy answer is yes, but the real answer is there is no “other side.” Of course, I am so grateful to have my girls and to have my rainbow baby. But the reality is that infertility never leaves you. In fact, I am just now starting to process everything I went through for the past four years.
In those years, I suffered through six losses and saw thirteen of my friends become pregnant. These were years of countless exams, needles, hormones, pills, and surgeries for me. They were years of heartache, of losing myself, of watching my body change without having a baby to show for it. Not to mention the financial strain, the strain on our marriage and friendships. Years of not feeling worthy. Of not feeling like you belong in one group or the other because of secondary infertility. The years of guilt, of tears, and of feeling alone. This is what I am now processing. Why? Because for years I was in this state, then came pregnancy after loss (which is a whole journey on its own), and then caring for a newborn. And now that I have time to process all I’ve been through, it’s not always pretty.
I was actually shocked when I found myself feeling so sad when I saw a pregnant stranger walking by. I looked down at my 3-month-old and couldn’t believe these feelings were coming up. But there they were, raw and real. The truth is, I know that pregnant lady might never be me again. I know that I can’t get pregnant on my own. I won’t have a miracle pregnancy. And I also don’t think I want to go through fertility treatments again. So when I see another pregnant person, I feel envy. I feel sad that I can’t get excited about the possibility of another baby. I think about the path we were on for years, and while I have my beautiful children, I still won’t ever have the chance to just try without medical intervention. And that is a loss I’m still grieving.
Pregnancy Announcements Can Be a Big Trigger
So when I see a pregnancy announcement, these feelings come back. I understand that these are not targeted at me. Sometimes, I can choose not to look. But the reality is that they are there. Whether it’s a friend, a family member, or sometimes a stranger. And so many times, these announcements are paired with “We weren’t even trying!” Or “We are so surprised!” That is always hard to hear. Unfortunately, it will never be a surprise to me. I know people say it could happen, but I don’t ovulate on my own. So, for me, it won’t ever happen.
For those who experience infertility, a pregnancy announcement becomes more than just a new baby. It’s deeper than that for us who face infertility. It’s something we long for, something we’ve dreamt about getting to do. Something that we wish would come easier for us. But unfortunately, it’s one of the hardest things we’ve ever had to do. A pregnancy announcement means work; it means expenses; it means blood and surgeries.
With my infertility, a pregnancy announcement reminds me that I won’t be announcing any more pregnancies unless I dive into treatments again. That I won’t get to just surprise my partner and say, “I’m pregnant!” It reminds me of the dream I had growing up of how I would tell my family. Of how much fun I would have trying to have a baby. And instead, when I hear someone announcing their pregnancy, I think about all of the days and hours spent in the fertility clinic just trying to grow my uterine lining and trying to make sure my hormone levels were in balance. It reminds me of the thousand times my arm was pricked to draw blood or the hundreds of times I laid on an exam table with my fingers crossed that we would hear good news.
I Can Be Happy For You But Sad For Me, Too
The truth of the matter is that I am still infertile, and I will always be infertile. I won’t ever get to tell my friends we are trying or feel a bond with my husband in doing so. I will never forget the trauma that I went through to have my babies. Whether I like it or not, unexpected pregnancies trigger me. Pregnancy announcements will likely always hurt because they remind me of what I struggled so long to get. They remind me of what I will never have. They remind me that I am still jealous of those who don’t have to experience loss to experience joy.
Ultimately there isn’t anything I can do to control these feelings from happening. I know that. But I also know that if we talk about it and acknowledge that this pain exists, we can spread awareness and empathy. The saying is true: I am ALWAYS so happy for you, but very sad for me. And that’s okay. Both can coexist if we allow them to.