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When Pregnancy Announcements Attack, Part III

By Amalah

Hello, I’ve been reading your column for a while and I really love it. I’ve never seen this type of question before, but I didn’t really go through the archives, so I apologize if you’ve seen it before.

OK, so my husband and I have been trying to conceive for over a year now, which has clearly been one big FAIL. I have an appointment with an RE to see what our next steps are. My problem lies more with the fact that in this last year or two my friends and family have been baby making machines and are popping the little ones like crazy. I really am so happy for them. I love seeing the babies, pinching their cheeks etc. And I would never want to deny any of them their joy in being mothers. But, I’ve noticed that as we’ve crossed the big one year mark, and beyond, it’s becoming much harder to keep the smile going. It’s getting harder to go to Facebook, and see all the pics of the adorable babies, to hear the new mothers complain about not getting any sleep (though, please know, I do not begrudge anyone with a legitimate complaint. Being up all night with a crying infant is certainly complaint worthy, it’s just hard to hear.), or to hear another “we’re pregnant!!!”. I can avoid it to a point, but really it’s everywhere and unless I want to never go on the internet, talk to my friends or listen to my mom’s family updates, there is really no way around this baby boom.

So, here is the question. How do I not become an embittered hag? It really is getting harder and harder. Some friends know about our issues, some don’t. But it doesn’t really matter. I don’t want anyone to be afraid to share something baby related with me because I may breakdown in tears or say some snide comment. Example, recently some friends of ours shared the news that they’re going to have a baby. My husband didn’t tell me for two weeks because he didn’t want to hurt me. I was shocked that he wouldn’t tell me, and said that I could handle it, then I broke down in tears.

I don’t want to be “that women” who nobody feels they can share their baby stuff with. But I have to admit, it’s getting really hard to not get, well bitter when every negative pregnancy test just break my heart a little more and everywhere I go I’m surrounded with happy baby news for everyone else. How do I continue being a good friend and being happy for my friends and family, when all I want to do is cry because I may never have a baby of my own?

Thank you so much,
Trying not to be Bitter

Personally, I think the feelings and emotions and turmoil surrounding infertility can be viewed in a similar way as anxiety or panic. If you’ve never been treated for either, the general therapy line is something like this: Don’t fight it. When you feel that lump in your throat or that pang in your gut, don’t immediately go all no no no no not happening gah gah gah, because basically you cause your brain to unleash a secondary wave of anxiety about your anxiety. Instead, acknowledge it. Okay, there it is. I’m feeling this way right now. Let’s deal with it and move on.

In other words, you shouldn’t HAVE to fight off all of these emotions all the time. It’s OKAY TO CRY. There’s nothing in your question that suggests that you are anywhere close to teetering on the edge of Bitter Hagdom. So you burst into tears in front of your husband. Dude, he’s exactly who you SHOULD be able to burst into tears in front of.

I am pretty sure that most women who have struggled to conceive (this advice columnist included) have totally faked the “I’m so happy for yooooouuuu” thing in public. To coworkers, Facebook friends, real friends, even to people we don’t like very much to begin with. And you know what, I think that’s okay sometimes too. I’m not saying, for example, that this woman’s response from a previous column was correct or mature, but it was still pretty UNDERSTANDABLE, in the grand scheme of things. And as you can see from the comments, most pregnant women DO understand how you feel, and WANT to be sensitive and respectful to your pain/grief/bitterness. So please, don’t beat yourself up for having a perfectly natural reaction to your situation. IT. SUCKS. And it always seems like everybody and their dog is pregnant and none of them understand how you feel.

I’m sure some people might suggest “stuff to take your mind off it.” Take up a hobby! Go outside more! Take a vacation! Get a puppy! Enjoy your carefree child-free days! And you know, it’s probably good, mature advice and all, but I dunno. I’m not saying you wallow in it (and hey, we DID get a puppy for this exact reason, and it DID help a lot), but I also don’t want to patronize you with the idea that knitting or scrapbooking will somehow lessen the pain of not having the one. thing. you. want. more. than. anything. In the world. Of all time!

What you probably need, though, is a safe place to express how you feel, once you’re done with the stony smiles and gritted-teeth “congratulations” and holding of Other People’s Babies. Start an anonymous little blog or join a message board (I have no specific site recommendations these days, so…readers? Any good TTC/IF boards out there that are low on the blinkies and baby dust and higher on the snark/honesty?). Find a place where you can talk about this stuff without fear of being judged as That Woman. Check out the amazing blogroll over at Stirrup-Queens.com and find some kindred blogging spirits. (Actually, just check out EVERYTHING at Stirrup-Queens.com. It’s pretty much the best infertility resource I can think of these days.) Let it OUT, either through your words or the occasional crying jag.

So while I hammer home the idea that it’s OKAY to feel how you feel, that it’s NATURAL, I do want to warn you about one thing, because it happened to me and really took me by surprise: The bitterness and wounds of infertility don’t just magically go away once you get pregnant. I was shocked to find that even though I was pregnant and everything was going okay and I had a pretty reasonable hope that I was going to end up with a baby, I was still just as thrown by other pregnancy announcements, particularly by women who didn’t experience a struggle. I distinctly remember being completely irrationally annoyed by the birth of another woman’s baby when I was practically in the third trimester — but that woman had announced her pregnancy just a few weeks before I found out I was pregnant, and I had cried and been upset and jealous (OH, SO JEALOUS). And I had a really hard time letting go of those feelings.

So. While you may feel alone and miserable and bitter within your current social circle, you AREN’T really, within the very large and real and understanding circle of your fellow infertiles. I wrote about it, I read what dozens of other women wrote about it, and I found a couple of online friends who I could randomly send overly rant-y emails about WHO WAS PREGNANT NOW OMG KILL ME without fear of being thought of as a jealous, seething bitch. (Which I was, maybe, in that moment. But by allowing myself to have that moment, I was better able to sack up and move on and NOT be a jealous, seething bitch 24/7. More like 23/6, I suppose.)

Photo by Bah Humbug

Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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Nicole
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Nicole

Dear Trying and Amy… Thank you for this! This is exactly where I am today…trying not to be angry and bitter and upset that everyone I freaking know is pregnant or showing sonogram pictures on Facebook. Or bringing their preshus infant to work for a bit…and gah, it gets to me because I WANT THAT TOO. We’re currently pursuing adoption and conception, and the waiting game is killing me. Thank you, we’re not alone. If you have a bitter moment, share it with me for sure. Oh, and even years into infertility I had never heard of stirrup queens. Thanks… Read more »

Ang
Guest

Oh, I could so be this person. My husband and I are nearing the 1 year mark and every month is a bigger disappointment for us both. My biggest problem has been taking out my frustrations on my (wonderful, caring, oh-so-patient) husband. I’ve been in kind of a dark place for the last few months and neither of us have known what to do about it. Not to mention EVERYONE I know seems to be pregnant (from two of my best friends to my hairdresser!). I started a blog (a hobby!!), though I haven’t really addressed THE ISSUE in a… Read more »

kakaty
Guest
kakaty

Everything she said is spot-on but I’ll add one more reminder…don’t assume that every announcement is of a pregnancy that happened without struggle. For every woman who quips “it just happened so fast!” there are 10 who are pregnant after month and months or years of trying. Just because they haven’t shared the struggle doesn’t mean they don’t know exactly how you are feeling.

Sara
Guest
Sara

I’ve heard great things about the “Infertility” board at http://www.thebump.com. They also have separate boards for things like “success after IF” and “trouble TTC” which should make it easier to find a place where you feel like you fit in (i.e. have the same level of snark/sense of humor).
Good Luck.

Roxeanne
Guest
Roxeanne

My husband and I tried to get pregnant for two years before we found out that I have severe endometriosis. During this hard time at least EIGHT of my friends became pregant. I dreaded talking to some women because I just KNEW they were about to announce a pregancy. Now that I have a wonderful son and everything I wanted, I STILL have trouble hearing about pregnancies. I don’t know what is up with me. I also get weepy when there’s any issue with infertility or newborns on TV. I think the infertility really affected me, and I haven’t truly… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

Do you have any friends who are going through something similar (or have in the past)? In the months of fresh devastation after my miscarriage, the best comfort was a friend who had also miscarried fairly recently. We didn’t get together to sob and moan about it all day. We were just two friends who had a lot in common outside of the baby situation and who understood the baby issue as well. Reading your question distinctly brought up the time my husband didn’t tell me that a good friend’s baby had been born for almost two days (he got… Read more »

cass
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cass

I’m so glad you mentioned that the bitterness/jealousy/rage/upsetedness can continue even if you DO manage to conceive! A casual friend announced her honeymoon, first-shot-out-of-the-gate-trying pregnancy about a month after I announced mine (after about 6 years of infertility.) I’m three weeks out from my due date (whoohoo! Can’t wait to meet my little guy!)and I still shy away from a lot of her talk about her pregnancy because it still hurts that it was so damned EASY for her and so damned HARD for me. I’m very happy for her, but still find it hard to reconcile her situation with… Read more »

Angela
Guest

Agreed. As someone who waited through 11 years of infertility to get our first son, I can tell you that it was hard hearing about or witnessing others’ pregnancies. One thing I did, that maybe isn’t for everyone, was to be very open about our struggle to conceive. I mean, not the gritty details, but open about the fact that we were trying, that I had PCOS and that infertility issues sucked bad. I still made it to my best friend’s baby shower, but there were plenty of others that I totally skipped. My issue wasn’t so much babies as… Read more »

Anastasia Beaverhausen
Guest
Anastasia Beaverhausen

Wow, I’m glad you mentioned that you felt the pain after conceiving as well! I’ve been trying to sort out in my head WHY I’m still bothered by all the announcements, etc. even though I’m almost 30 weeks along and *should* be “over it.” My husband and I tried for 7 cycles, and that 7th cycle was the magic number. But in that trying time, three close friends got pregnant, seemingly w/o trying, and it just ripped me apart. They’ve all since had their baby boys, and I’m still bothered by their nonchalance. AND I just got diagnosed with GD… Read more »

lisa
Guest

Being someone who had trouble conceiving as well as carrying (would have had a child almost a year and a half old now), it was hell going to work with people who announced before we got a chance to. It still hurts to think about it. I found fertilityfriends.com, who had TTC/IF (and MC, as well as other boards filled with supportive and helpful people in the same situation I was and you are. There are other people out there that feel the same as you. You are not wrong to feel the way you do. It does help finding… Read more »

M
Guest
M

I am so glad to know that I’m not the only person who has trouble letting go of the anger and bitterness of infertility even after conceiving. I’m now halfway through my first pregnancy and SHOULD be thrilled and happy for my pregnant best friend (who conceived just a few weeks before me without trouble), but I still hate hearing about her pregnancy. But how do I let her know that I’m so happy for her, but that that doesn’t make it any less hard for me? So far I haven’t been able to explain where I’m coming from and… Read more »

Emily
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Emily

sometimes I want to punch people who complain about things like “I don’t really want to breastfeed” or similar items. I would really like a baby and I’d really like to breastfeed it and use cloth diapers and make my own babyfood.. and here you are… just taking for granted your little miracle. so, I don’t know if ALL of the bitterness can ever go away. and no one seems to really understand. Even people who say “oh, my 4th child took us 7 months”… that’s lovely – atleast you knew your body was capable of being pregnant. anyways.. I… Read more »

Andrea
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Andrea

I know it took us several years, drugs and a fertility specialist for it to happen. And I was bitter and it was tough. I would send presents rather than go to baby showers because I couldn’t face the happiness of others. To be honest, I am ok with myself for doing that – I needed to take care of me and could only fake so much when I was sad inside. One of my best friends had gone through a fertility clinic as well and that was great to have someone that I could talk to openly about this.… Read more »

Kim
Guest
Kim

What I’ve found is that conflicting emotions can run on two tracks, that I could wildly happy for my friends and still be deeply, bitterly disappointed and angry for myself. But acknowledging that anger was crucial. I could be congratulatory, as long as I went home and cried all over my husband. I hit the fertility jackpot this year – a natural conception after needing ART with my daughter, at a time when I had been desperately (and publicly)trying to process my grief over not having my “ideal” two child family. And I still want to ram a fist down… Read more »

Maria
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Maria

I am the same as Andrea, I couldn’t go to baby showers until I’d had Jakob… not because I wasn’t happy for people, I just didn’t want to be the “party pooper” crying in a corner because I couldn’t have a baby. I not only attended my first baby shower this past Sunday, I threw it myself – for my sister in law who’s due in December… it was so satisfying! If I can give anyone any tips when you become mothers after fertility struggles… DO NOT forget your sisters and friends with the same struggle. Do not leave them… Read more »

S
Guest
S

I went through infertility too, and I am a teacher. What killed me was seeing all these parents who clearly had not intended to become pregnant (former teen moms or highly irresponsible, still living the high life). THEY got to have a baby, and here I was, taking my vitamins, exercising, educated about pregnancy, married, doing it all right…?! So frustrating. But I read one thing that suddenly released me from all my anxiety – something to the effect of, “You WILL be a mother one day. You don’t have to get pregnant to be a mother.” Realizing that whether… Read more »

Gwen
Guest
Gwen

After 4 years of trying (complete with surgeries, miscarriage, and a lot of drugs) I’m halfway through my pregnancy. And I’m still bitter too. I think it’s just hard to listen to people who got something so easily that we had to work so hard at. I started going to a Resolve support group (they have them all over the country) while we were still TTC and I found them very helpful. It gave me a chance to talk about it with people who really understood and didn’t think I was a bad person for getting so angry at a… Read more »

Florrie
Guest
Florrie

People have made some great suggestions here! Infertility is to date the toughest thing I’ve ever had to go through. Thankfully I did finally conceive and give birth to my marvelous daughter. While we were trying, the TTC boards on WebMD were a huge help to me. I also pursued acupuncture and developed a close bond with my acupuncturist. She sort of acted as my therapist. Like a few others mentioned, I had an acquaintance at work who I found out was going through the same thing, and she and I really bonded over it. Many a lunch hour was… Read more »

CrossReferenced
Guest
CrossReferenced

I think one of the hardest things I’ve had to come to terms with (and the thing that’s helping the most) is that maybe those women who are “PREGNANT!!!!” also had fertility struggles, and just like ME, are chosing to keep those details private except within the blogsphere. I know I’m not the only one struggling. Starting a little blog that only my husband and a few close friends know about helped too. I can write out my frustration and it just helps, but my family doesn’t even know it exists. It’s a private matter that I don’t want everyone… Read more »

Malinda
Guest

My husband and I have been in TTC mode for over 2 years now and I have learned one hell of a lot about myself. I see a therapist now and then to keep it from becoming too much to handle. I find myself feeling lucky that I don’t live where I grew up and so don’t have the boat load of friends having baby after baby but I get to see it all unfold on FB of course. but the kicker for me was when my younger sister, 4 years younger announced she was pregnant (due Feb. ’10)! that… Read more »

Good Egg
Guest

I loved this post because I’m becoming the bitter woman. I don’t really have a problem seeing pregnant women or congratulating the rare friend who get pg (I know a lot of women/couples who are choosing not to have kids for one reason or another) BUT I’m having a hard time at work. There is a woman here who used Clomid and did one, yes, one IUI and got pregnant. I was very happy for her. But all she’s done is complain and ask ME questions about baby crap. Really? Or to tell me about her cousins or friends pregnancy.… Read more »

Julie
Guest
Julie

This was very interesting to read. I sometimes feel bitterness for a different reason, and it is to women who take for granted being able to carry a baby to term. I had my son 8 weeks early, and even though he is perfectly healthy, I still can’t help but be envious whenever I hear about someone having a baby that didn’t have to spend over a month in the NICU when they were born. I don’t feel sorry for myself, because I know I am blessed and lucky, but I don’t think that feeling will ever really go away.… Read more »

Sarah
Guest
Sarah

We tried for almost a year before tests at the RE revealed things were probably never going to happen on their own. Our first cycle of IVF worked, luckily). In the meantime I had started acupuncture and going to a therapist. I loved both. Once the baby was here, I figured the feelings of anxiety, resentment and jealousy would disappear–after all, I’d gotten what I’d wanted for so long, right? But they don’t just go away (as I write this now, that seems pretty obvious). I need to get back to that therapist as soon as I can. I am… Read more »

Melin
Guest
Melin

I have a 7 month old conceived on my second round of IVF after a year and a half of infertility (3 ectopics, multiple methotrexate treatments, among others). It was hell and I was so so bitter. I had many of the same thoughts and feelings as many of you. During the darkest days of my infertility I got to the point where I realized that I had to protect myself and stop worrying about being “that girl” or a bad friend. I avoided events that involved pregnant people or babies (even good friends and family members) because it was… Read more »

Mandy
Guest
Mandy

Hey girls I have loved being on iVillage.com’s message boards. I have been on thebump.com before and personally haven’t had any issues but have heard of girls getting bullied and made fun of on there. iVillage has every message board imaginable…and it has been a tremendous help! Great article by the way!