Infertility Induced Assholeness

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Yesterday should have been a very happy day.  My sister-in-law gave birth to their fourth child.  As I’ve blogged about many times before, this is their third child since we started trying to conceive.

I remember when my first nephew was born.  It was so incredibly exciting.  When we got the news that she was in labour, my husband and I, along with the grandparents-to-be, got together for a meal and anxiously awaited any news.  We pondered the name and gender.  We counted the minutes until we got to meet our newest little family member.

Fast forward five years later and I was filled with many more icky than nice feelings when I received word she was in labour.  I felt fearful about how I would react, nervous and resentful to fulfil what was expected of me in the days ahead, and worst of all, insanely jealous.  I felt like an absolute asshole.  How can anticipating a new arrival turn me into such a jerk?

As I neared the end of the workday, I glanced at my phone to see a text from my brother-in-law.  After having three boys, they welcomed my precious little niece into this world.  And I promptly reacted by bursting into tears and having an ugly (both literally and figuratively) cry.

Throughout this pregnancy, I was plagued with the hope that this fourth little one would be a boy.  I thought that maybe if we were finally placed, and it was a girl, our baby would some how be “special.”  This is ridiculous because I truly don’t care what gender our child will be, nor did my in-laws have any control in determining the gender of their children.  I just felt like since we will never have loads of children, maybe us adding something “new and different” would make the kid stand a chance at family get togethers.  But hearing it was girl filled me with ugly jealously and resentment that they have it all and I continue to grieve our empty arms.

As suspected, we were invited to the hospital with everyone to meet her.  In the spirit of wishing to show excitement, we stopped at a clothing store to pick up some infant sleepers from the girl section since all of their clothing is for boys.  Even my husband acknowledged that being in that store was painful for him.

I really struggled going to the hospital for the birth of their third.  Yesterday was even harder.  We walked through a hallway lined with newborn photos to the maternity ward to cram in to her postpartum room with their three other children and two sets of grandparents.  Everyone was so joyful and all I could do was hide in the corner.  They offered for me to hold her, but I politely declined.  It was just too much.

On the way out to the car, my little nephew asked, “Do you have a baby in your tummy?”

Can anyone out there speak to how they cope when family members are exceedingly great at multiplying?  How do I choose joy when I am so conflicted by my own grief and jealousy?How are you able to compartmentalize these opposing feelings?

I love my nephews and my new niece with all of my being, but sometimes looking at them hurts my heart.

 

 

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16 thoughts on “Infertility Induced Assholeness

  1. Oh my, I cannot imagine how hard it must be to watch your sister have 4 children in the midst of your struggle. I hate to say this, but part of me was always thankful (not sure if thats the right word) that I dont have a sister for this very reason. Im sure it doesnt feel like it, but u are incredibly strong for doing what u did-buying those outfits and visiting. Im sure it was so tough. I dont think I have an answer on how to make this any easier on you-although I wish I did. I will tell you to keep your hope, dont let it go. It will be u one day having that baby…thinking of u!

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  2. I do not pretend to understand… You are incredibly strong! I do wish to share that you are in no way horrible or bad… I have experienced jealousy as other friends have completed their adoptions or have gotten calls to be foster parents when we sat here waiting… It is hard! Waiting is horrid and painful! You are amazing for being able to show your sister-in-law any kind of support and excitement during this time… You did great! I’m sure she loved the girlie sleepers!

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  3. I’m sorry for how you’re feeling and…. how harsh reality is around you. Your feelings and realities are valid and so very hard to live through healthfully. I’ve been there and literally started feeling shock and anxiety at times. I even felt like I was going crazy when family, especially, didn’t register our woes and struggles… even when we tried to express them. It was so sad and maddening and guilt-inducing. I can say that talking to a fertility counsellor was and is something I could control, and something for the betterment of me.
    I can relate so much to some of your feelings, that this is the reason I haven’t updated my own blog since Easter. I’ve wanted to, but feel so badly about my authentic feelings about some family and friends that I feel like I can’t put it out there in the universe. I’m so glad that you did – I just wanted to reach out and give you a big hug. You have been gracious and supportive in traumatic times, and they are all lucky to have you in their lives!

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    • Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I love the idea of a counsellor the specializes in infertility. I hope you can consider using your blog to share your true feelings if that feels comfy for you. I feel so grateful to have this space to be genuine and to get support from people like you who can understand where I am coming from.

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  4. This hits home for me as well, as my brother and his wife found out they were having a baby less than a month after my first miscarriage. I knew they were trying in earnest (and that my sister-in-law had a miscarriage years before in a previous relationship), but hearing that they were successful was hard. Actually, when I’d announced my pregnancy a few months earlier my brother later told me that his wife had a very emotional reaction and shut herself in the bathroom for several hours. That was tough to hear, being as she knew we’d been trying for so long.

    Fast forward to now and I have a wonderful nephew (about to turn 6 months) and my brother is a great father. I’m incredibly happy for their new little family. Having said that, I live several hundred miles from my brother and while I adore my nephew, I think it would be difficult for me to see him regularly while along undergoing IVF, etc.

    I also (very regularly) fear that one of my husband’s siblings will become pregnant without any trouble (not that I wish trouble on anyone!). While I’d like to think I’d be joyful for them, I know it would hit me hard. I think it is SO hard to control your jealousy when so much of your life is consumed by the desire to become a mother. It’s a tough balance to strike between being happy for others you love and yet still sad that you’re struggling. I know how much this sucks. Sending you strength!

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  5. I don’t have any words of wisdom on this front as I have been fortunate(?) to only experience pregnancies of friends and could be happy (forced happy at times) via text, phone or other removed means. I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone in your feelings and they in no way make you an asshole. (((hugs)))

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  6. No advice, only empathy. I had to go to my brother’s second child’s christening and hold the baby and have photos taken around the due date for my lost baby. It was excruciating. I just don’t think fertiles understand. It comes across as uncaring but really I just don’t think they get it. Sending you hugs. Xx

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  7. I made the hard decision to not attend the homecoming of my niece. She was born just before Christmas a few years ago, and the entire family was traveling to be together and meet her. I knew that I couldn’t fake it. I wrote an e-mail to my brother, telling him that I wanted to meet her when I knew I could express my genuine joy at her birth and not create a dark cloud over the event. I told him that my emotional reaction wouldn’t last forever and that I still loved him and that he deserved every joy. I mailed her a gift. My brother never wrote back to my e-mail, but I know he received it. It was the first Christmas in my memory that my brother and I had been apart, and that was hard. But I’m glad I took the space I needed. A few months later, when I felt like I could do it, I made the trip to meet her. And it was good. I’ve used the same strategy when people invited me to baby showers that I didn’t think I could manage going to. I’d write a note saying I’d be sending a gift but that celebrating in person would be too much for me at the time and I didn’t want to detract from the excitement at the party. It’s a strategy I developed over time, one that I wish I had started earlier with other family and friends. I’ve found the awkward conversation is actually easier than the awkward silence.

    When I did visit people with babies, I made sure I wasn’t on my own. A trick I used was having a code word I’d use with a close friend or my husband when I was around a baby and I was starting to feel overwhelmed. I don’t remember what it was now, but it was something like, “She’s so stinkin’ cute!” When my partner-in-crime heard the code word, that was their cue to say, “Let me hold the baby!” and I would disappear for a few minutes to breathe. Or I’d let me partner know that I didn’t want to hold the baby, so if anyone offered, my partner should jump in and say, “I haven’t had a chance yet!” or something like that.

    All in all, these strategies worked for me, but I also wasn’t dealing with people who seem to get their feelings hurt easily. There’s no easy or right way to go about this painful experience. You’re a trooper to do it.

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    • I love the strategies you’ve shared. Thank you! I’m learning more and more that infusing a smidgeon of honesty in with whatever excuse I’m offering is so much more well received than if I completely hide my feelings.

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  8. I wish I had some words of wisdom for you! I know how you feel. I didn’t experience 3 pregnancy announcements from one woman but I counted the announcements one day and after my infertility struggle began I experienced about 32 pregnancy announcements in the following year! You must be some kind of super woman because I could have never showed up at the hospital!! Kudos to you my friend! It must have taken every ounce of strength you have to show up in person for that! If I could say only one thing to you it would be, Allow yourself to feel! Give yourself a break. You are allowed to feel whatever you are feeling right now and it doesn’t matter if anyone else understands why! If you deny yourself this, you will only be adding anger/resentment to your bucket of feelings, ain’t nobody got time for that! If you can’t be excited for them, then don’t be. Instead of showing up to the labour send a polite email/text. Have something delivered to the new parent’s house. You deserve to handle these things your way, without trying to be rude or insensitive to them of course, but still your way! Hugs to you…

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  9. I completely understand where you are coming from and can’t imagine the intensity! I know my brother his soon to be wife will start trying in the next few months and inevitably they will conceive quickly. My sister conceived both my nephew and niece in the first month of trying… and the latter was conceived when my DH and began trying as well. I can’t imagine what that feels like over and over again. I agree with several of the comments on here that say to be honest. My sister knows what I am going through (although she will never truly understand) and always invites me privately to things in case I am not up for it etc. Always be yourself and never apologize for you feelings. We can control how we treat others but not our feelings… especially during such a journey as we are on. We are only human after all.

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