Post-Infertility Pregnancy Guilt

Today I am 30 weeks pregnant with my second biological son.  Yet, no matter how blessed I feel to be pregnant, no matter how grateful I am to have the opportunity to be a mother to another child, no matter how anxious I am for my 5-year-old son to have a sibling who lives with us full-time, I can’t shake the post-infertility pregnancy guilt.

Why?

Because the physical, emotional and financial horrors of infertility will forever be a part of me. 

I will never forget how difficult it was to do all of the right things—see the recommended specialists, follow their instructions to the letter, ingest and inject every medication prescribed—and still fail to become pregnant cycle after cycle. 

I will never forget feeling like a crazy woman, staring longingly at babies in the grocery store, on the sidewalk—in fact, everywhere.

I will never forget the euphoria of a positive pregnancy test, only to receive a call from a nurse notifying me that my blood test results showed that I would lose the baby.

I will never forget starting to bleed, single and alone in my condo, and having to collect the miscarriage material—my baby—in a plastic bag, then place the bag in the refrigerator for the weekend, so its contents—my baby—could be tested the following Monday.  The testing, by the way, revealed nothing.

I will never forget, whenever I heard that yet another woman was pregnant, feeling not only happy for her, but also a sense of loss and jealousy because I couldn’t get pregnant too.  Then, I would feel incredibly guilty that I was so self-involved that I had connected my infertility to such a joyful announcement.

I will never forget feeling as if I had absolutely no control over becoming a mother, the role I felt I was most supposed to fulfill.

I will never forget not being able to attend baby showers, not because I wasn’t happy for my friends, but because I was afraid I would cry for myself, ruining their special days by making them feel guilty.

I will never forget analyzing my finances and the risks of infertility medications, trying to determine how many cycles I could afford to pursue, both monetarily and physically.

I will never forget feeling increasingly irrational with each failure, becoming convinced, through the haze of hormones, that the only action that would keep me sane was to try to get pregnant again—as soon as possible.

I will never forget the feelings of isolation, for unless others have suffered through infertility themselves, they have no idea how to react—and, in my case, two close friends made the choice to distance themselves, with one telling a mutual friend, “I feel bad, but I just can’t handle what she’s going through.”

I will never forget lying on an ultrasound table in September, with the technician telling me she was sorry because one of my twins, Baby B, didn’t have a heartbeat, demonstrating to me for the second time that becoming pregnant doesn’t guarantee a live baby.

Because I will never forget these experiences, and because I know that I am no more deserving than any other person who has dealt with the trauma of infertility, I feel guilty whenever I hear or read about others who are still struggling.

I don’t have a martyr complex in which I want to trade places.  I am beyond happy to be pregnant right now, but I want all of these others—these millions of others—to be able to become parents too.

When I confided in a friend about my pregnancy guilt this week, she tried to talk me out of it, saying, “M.K., come on.   You’ve been through plenty.”

I’m not saying I haven’t paid my dues.  But so has every other infertile person.  I just wish that all of us could have the happily-ever-after.

  1. Tracy Morris
    February 13th, 2010 at 09:37
    Reply | Quote | #1

    My very similar feelings were drawn to your blogpost from the hundreds of headlines that boggle my eyeballs daily. I’d never presume to tell anyone in our shoes that ‘this too shall pass’ — I can only share my experience, and that is that the guilt faded over time (it’s been 15 years since my infertility journey began) but it’s still there. Those scars are still there, and I think of them as I do physical marks on my body: evidence of life, reminders of choices, and navigational tools. This is the first I’ve heard of your memoir and I am absolutely thrilled to hear you’re writing it. Not because I am a huge fan of infertility memoirs (I ranted about that once in a blogpost, in fact) but because yours is being told from a sweetly unique perspective. Thank you.

  2. mk
    February 13th, 2010 at 16:02
    Reply | Quote | #2

    Tracy:
    Thanks so much for sharing your experience. Of course, being currently pregnant, I’m in the throes of guilt. And having many friends of childbearing age, plus writing my blog, I’m in daily contact with wonderful, deserving people who continue to struggle to become parents. While I hope that the guilt fades, as it has for you, I hope I never lose the perspective my infertility experiences have brought me–foremost the absolute gratitude for my 5-year-old son and the baby boy I’m carrying.

    Thanks for friending me on Facebook too.

    MK

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