Those of us who wanted, but couldn’t have, children have a tremendous amount of pain lingering inside of us. We’ve done very well to manage it and find ways to cope and be constructive, but the world around us moves on and brings more pregnancies and babies. It only takes one little trigger and we are stopped in our tracks by the harsh emptiness, the gut-wrenching pain.
If we could live in a bubble, without having to deal with other people getting pregnant and having babies, it would make it all so much easier. I’m talking from personal experience because I live in a partial-bubble, and it has helped me to manage the sadness, recognise certain truths, and enjoy my life for what it is. Without much to compare myself to, I am able to value what I have. Of course, if I had a choice, I would like to have a baby, but as I don’t have that choice, I may as well make the most of all this time to myself.
Finding it hard when people around us get pregnant does not mean that we want them to be miserable, as we have been. It does not mean we want anything other than happiness for them. It’s just an unavoidable reality that their situation will remind us of our own grief.
Infertility is made harder by the fact that it is a hidden, secret pain, a disenfranchised grief. I have this fantasy that I can broadcast my story and explain to everyone exactly what I’ve been through, how I feel and how strong I’ve had to be. But then even if I did tell everyone, most of them probably wouldn’t know what to say, or might be insensitive, which would make matters worse.
If you’re coping with infertility and someone close to you gets pregnant, here are four things to help:
What others should expect
You can be happy for your pregnant friend/relative but you’re not in a position to share their joy and excitement. There will be loads of other people who can do this instead. If they are a good friend they will not ask that of you; they will be mindful of our situation and sensitive.
You should also be able to explain to a pregnant friend/relative how you feel and what you need – as long as you don’t ask too much or take it out on them.
Breaking the news
I think one of the hardest things is being there when someone breaks the news, it hits you like a body blow. If you know someone who is trying to conceive, ask them if they would mind telling you separately (if they get pregnant). Or if you find yourself in a group when someone makes their announcement, excuse yourself – you can always contact that person afterwards to wish them well. You will need to let yourself express your feeling, and you will need time to absorb the situation.
If possible, it’s probably a good idea to avoid some group socialising and meet one-to-one with a pregnant loved one. This way, there is space for mutual kindness and understanding, uncomplicated by other people.
Be assertive about avoiding any situations which will cause you pain – for instance, a baby shower or social occasion where there will be pregnant women or new mothers. This is not an endurance test.
We cannot be expected to supress our suffering. It is valid and, unfortunately, pregnancies around us will touch that raw nerve. If other people cannot understand that, or are unwilling (or unable) to be careful with with our feelings, we might be better off retracting and remaining in our bubbles a few more years until it’s all blown over.