Monday, December 07, 2009

I Can't Complain

I've started a post three times now about a baby shower that was thrown for me by my mother last weekend, and I just can't get it out. Mainly, it's because every time I write about it I feel compelled to also talk about the shower thrown by a friend that was canceled because of my bleeding episode/bed rest orders. And then I complain about how disappointed I was about the whole thing. And then, remembering how, just one year ago, I would have killed to be in a position to have a baby shower to cancel, I feel ridiculous.

It's gotten me thinking about the emotional aspect of pregnancy after infertility. How truly challenging it is to navigate, in part because of the promises you make to yourself during treatment. About how you'll never be "one of those people" who waxes on about how happy they are. That you'll always remember how it feels to go through it, how others are still feeling right now while you're enjoying your pregnancy. And you certainly can't imagine ever complaining.

Except –and you wouldn't know this when you're making those promises to yourself, before you're actually pregnant – being pregnant after infertility is hard, too. I know that probably elicited some groans (I would have found it unbelievable myself) – at least you're pregnant, how hard can it be – but it's true. That feeling you get when you're going through a cycle, things are going well, and you're terrified that something will go wrong and bring you back to square one? It's a thousand times more intense when there's a growing baby inside of you. Every normal ultrasound, every healthy heartbeat you hear – they raise the stakes. Who would I be, you think, if something happened now? What would I do? Forget about it when something does come up, when you experience an actual complication.

And that's just the emotional aspect of it. Before you get pregnant, you picture yourself in maternal glory, a delicious bump on your belly (and only your belly, the rest of you naturally as svelte as ever), a radiant, halo-like glow surrounding you. You know what I say to that? Screw Hollywood. Thanks a lot Sarah Jessica, Heidi, Halle and the whole lot of you with makeup artists and personal trainers and access to million-dollar maternity wardrobes. Because the rest of us? Can't afford to stand up to your perfect-pregnancy images.

The truth is, pregnancy isn't always beautiful or comfortable. And it doesn't matter how much you wanted it, how hard you worked for it, how ever-grateful you are that you have it. Because when you have a fireball in your chest and toss and turn all night and have an odd painful numbness in your hip all day and can't leave your couch because you're put on bed rest and have hair growing in odd places, colostrum leaking out of your huge, painful boobs and see your first stretch marks, you know what? It's not all fun and games. You're human, not some Pollyanna Stepford Wife, and you don't have to pretend that these sucky parts don't exist. In fact, if you ask me, all the hard work you put in to get pregnant gives you even more right to be perfectly honest about what it's like – you get to commiserate about the less appealing aspects and seize and celebrate all of the moments of hope and joy you feel along the way.

The shower I had last weekend, while not exactly what I'd imagined (still on bed rest, I felt like the Pope or the Queen sitting in waiting on my couch while my aunts, cousins and longtime family friends paid me visit), was wonderful. My family – many of whom know what I've been through on the way here – was genuinely happy for me. They brought me the sweetest gifts, complete with a diaper cake. I reveled in the cozy kitschiness of it, this time-honored tradition that was finally, finally being celebrated for me. I got the milestone I thought I might never reach.

Believe me, I will never forget what that's like, wondering whether you will ever, ever see a baby shower invitation and feel joy rather than pain. I am right there with those who are still in the infertility leg of the journey. I truly hope to hear you both celebrate and complain about – profusely and unapologetically – your own pregnancy fears, discomforts, joys and surprises, very, very soon.


PJ said...

First, I'm sorry you have to be on bedrest and are having bleeding issues. That sounds scary.

Yep. So far being pregnant after infertility is HARD. I feel utterly and completely disgusting. No glow here! I told my boss and few other people today, because I got sick. And then I felt guilty because, what if something happens. 20 days between ultrasounds, a lot can happen.

I hope you're being pampered and are at least enjoying the relaxation a bit.

Michelle said...

I imagine that the whole process is scary. And it probably doesn't make it better that you are on bed rest. I know IF I ever get pregnant I want someone to knock me out for 9 months because I will be a basket case. I am glad you had a nice baby shower and I hope the rest of your pregnancy goes smoothly. ((HUGS))

anofferingoflove said...

This is a beautifully written post. Pregnancy after IF is so complicated.

Sounds like you had a lovely shower!

Anonymous said...

awww. I sucks that you are on bedrest- but it seems like you have good perspective. I would think it is hard to be pregnant after infertility (I hope to know one day!)
Good luck!!


The Amazing Trips said...

Yes, yes, and YES. But here's the thing: You CAN complain. You are going through a very difficult time - after having just gone through a very difficult time just to get to where you are, right now.

It took me almost 10 years to conceive. And when I finally conceived - on my third round of IVF - you might imagine my surprise when I learned we were expecting triplets. Every vision I had of what pregnancy would be like went FLYING out the window. I looked like I was full term by the time I was 20 weeks and was on modified bed rest, soon thereafter. Our triplets were born just shy of 31 weeks, at 3 pounds a piece, and spent 6 weeks in the NICU. But wow they are amazing. They are now five-years-old and not a day passes that I don't think about what I had to go through to get them.

And then, I look at their two-year-old brother, who came along TOTALLY by surprise (the doctors said it would NEVER happen) and I can't help but laugh at the fact that me, a desperate infertile, gave birth to four healthy, beautiful babies in less than three years.

As much as possible, enjoy your bedrest. Savor your quiet time. Because once your little one arrives, you'll miss the days of laying around and doing nothing. Trust me. :)

Heather said...

It is very scary. All of my pregnancies are from IF treatments and I've had 2 successful pregnancies, 3 miscarriages and now have 3 glorious kids. But every pregnancy was not the same as those not jaded by losses. I had my happy moments, yes. But every now and then there were the concerned moments.

Hang in there and take care of yourself. You can be truly happy when the baby is home. That's how I always felt, "I'll be happy when the baby is home."

JamieD said...

So very true - all of it!! And it is hard to come out and say. After trying for so long, I felt like I had ZERO room to complain about any of it.

Anonymous said...

I've never liked this idea that infertiles shouldn't be able to be honest about pregnancy and that they should be constantly overwhelmed with excitement and enthusiasm and relief (blah blah blah) for finally BEING pregnant. I don't get it. Especially on blogs- because if you self-censor on a blog, where can you be honest?!

So thank you for your honesty. The idea of being pregnant scares the crap out of me. I absolutely expect to be one of those who panics from ultrasound to ultrasound. You're right- it raises the stakes to go through what we do, and I think it is SO unfair that we still end up with the same chances of miscarriage and other bad endings as 'normal' people. You'd think we could catch a break.

I have been meaning to ask you how the bedrest is going- are you able to occupy your time? Is hubby taking good care of you? How much longer have you got to go?

I'm so glad you got to have a baby shower, and that you were able to enjoy it. You deserve to grab onto all the good moments of pregnancy extra tight because it's so hard to get rid of the doubts.

So complain as much as you need to, m'dear. I'll feel much better knowing you aren't bottling up your feelings while lying on that couch!

Hugs and love,

Queenie. . . said...

I also felt some ambivalence about how I talked about stuff after we got pregnant. But then I decided that ymt blog was about my journey, and I wasn't being true to myself or furthering the purpose of my blog if I self-censored based on how I THOUGHT I should be reacting.

So I guess I'm saying to write what you feel. There are many of us out here who totally get where you're coming from.

Erika said...

Thanks for your honesty! I think it's great you can be honest about it, and me as a never before pregnant person really appreciates it! Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy, especially bed rest!

Anonymous said...

You are so right, that pregnancy after infertility is hard. I struggle with how to approach it in my blog, because I also don't want to forget what it's like to be in the middle of treatments, and I don't want to complain or come across as being too happy or anything. In the end though, I figure that our blogs are for us to be honest about what we are going through.

I realize that I've probably lost a lot of readers who find it too painful to read a pregnancy blog, and I totally understand that. I've deleted pregnancy blogs from my reader too when I was in a place where I couldn't bear to hear about nursery themes and happy happy this and that.

What makes it easier for me is having others out there like you, blogging about pregnancy after infertility. It makes me feel like less of a nut for all of the worrying and the complicated range of emotions involved.

Ashley said...

Hey honey!! Great minds do think alike...I can't believe you ordered from also;) Waiting on an update from you...and what about a pic!!! Have a great Christmas!!! YAY FOR 35 WEEKS!!!