I thought my struggle with infertility would end when I became pregnant.
Even so, I laughed when my fellow IVF mommy-to-be told me that the nurses in the "regular" OB clinic told her she wasn't considered infertile now that she was pregnant, even after all the treatments to become so. Deep down I could sense the ridiculousness of the thought -- that all of that infertility jumbled ball of emotion could be erased with one sudden success.
I guess I knew I wouldn't be able to immediately take off the label, disrobing the years of emotional turmoil to move suddenly into a fertile life. But, I thought I would easily put it on the back shelf of my life to eventually gather dust and cobwebs until those troubles drifted into the far past, brought up only in conversations of the future: "Oh yeah! I WAS infertile," or "Hmmm...Yes, I USED TO BE infertile. Once. But that was years ago."
I certainly didn't expect it to continue to haunt me like it has, and in some ways, my infertility has been harder than ever. My sudden burst of (assisted) fertility hasn't completely buried the years of hurt and my infertility emotions seem to be raging along with my pregnancy hormones.
Mostly, I feel bad admitting it (because it sounds and feels horrible to say), but I have been surprised by my response to the good news of others. Now it seems I have suddenly become one of many, like there are pregnant women all around. At least in the beginning, the news bothered me more than it has in the past. I thought I would be happy, all of us mothers-to-be together. But I feel a bit lost in the crowd of morning sickness and exhaustion; like I thought it was my turn but actually there is still a long line ahead of me (since I announced early there are still a lot of babies to be announced before mine arrives). And I feel guilty for feeling this way. The joy of others shouldn't take away from my own happiness. It certainly doesn't. But as illogical as it seems, it reminds me that I am or was infertile, like a bad cold I just can't shake and the lingering cough painfully reminding me that I am different than those with the carefree joy of a spontaneous pregnancy. I feel like the weird one, the one who couldn't do it the easy way, the free way, the buy-a-cute-present-to-announce-it-to-your-husband way, the way-it-is-supposed-to-happen way. As I progress in my pregnancy I sense these feelings start to fade, but it has been a surprising struggle.
Perhaps some of it is my survivors guilt. I mentioned before my fears for leaving behind my other infertile friends. Worrying and wondering how they are. Hoping my success is reason for hope rather than another painful reminder. I found myself crying last night thinking of those still struggling. I was so upset by failed fertility treatments, the surgical removal of reproductive organs, advancing age, financial constraints, the questions of unexplained infertility, and the progressive loss of hope. It just doesn't seem fair when I know these women and couples would be wonderful parents. I know the pain of thinking you will never be a parent and I feel guilty that I don't have to continue with that pain when I know so many others aren't finding relief. And I hate knowing that my growing belly or excitement makes some of those around me feel sad.
Also, I think I found some identity in my infertility. When you wear a label for too long, it begins to become a part of you. I was someone different in my infertility. I had a community of sorts. And now I don't really know who I am as a pregnant person or a person who can even become pregnant, or certainly in being a parent.
So I'm trying to get used to being another smile in a crowd of glowing faces. And realize that infertility has a lot of complex emotions that don't always make sense or make you feel like a good and compassionate person!