First of all, I am doing okay today.  I was relieved to get the beta over with.  I still had hope up until I got the phone call, but once that was over I felt relief.  The suspense was too much.  I worry a lot about how much something will hurt, before the hurting starts; once the hurting finally arrives, it’s generally not as bad.  This doesn’t apply to nasty or traumatic surprises, of course.  Hence my relief here.  While any number of bad things can happen at any moment, I am presently as un-pregnant as I am going to get.  I can at least look forward to six more weeks free of pregnancy loss.  Also six more weeks of winter followed by several months of, well, more winter.  Where I live, the whole groundhog thing is just a mean joke. 

Traditionally, at this point in my infertility career, I assign myself a kind of emotional handicapped sticker.  Instead of hanging it from my rear view mirror, it could hang around my neck.Antipregnant

What it would mean, if it existed, would be "all pregnant people stay away from me because it hurts too much for me to see you."

The theory behind this is that seeing a pregnant person reminds me of what I don’t have, or have just lost; and if I didn’t see that pregnant person I would not feel that hurt.  Or, not feel that hurt as much.

When I hang the symbol on myself, I generally indulge in a line of cynical thinking to go with it.  That thinking says, this symbol won’t work.  The more I hurt, the more pregnant people I will see.  The more I hurt, the more I will somehow invite hurty pregnant-stuff – emails and announcements and bellies and babies – to find me and stick to me like pollen.  This line of thinking turns me and my pain into the focus of the universe, and hardens my heart against God.

So I hear you asking, how’s all that working for you?  and of course my answer is, not so much.

Despite how cute this little symbol is, I’m going to try not to wear it this time.  Here’s why. 

I can look back and see a few dramatic points of growth in the pain of my own infertility struggles.  All happened when someone got pregnant who I could not get away from – either because of love, or because of a family or work relationship.  In each case, my initial response to the news was horrific.  Every jealous, angry, hopeless, despairing, fearful thought came vomiting out of me.  All those feelings are part of grief and a sane response, so I’m not saying they could / should have been avoided.  But in each case, those negative thoughts and feelings went away as I started to notice the differences between the pregnant person, and me.  I found myself accepting it: She is pregnant.  I am not.  Her life is different from mine.

I didn’t want to stay in these pregnant people’s lives.  I wanted them to go straight to hell (at least theoretically), but I didn’t get my way.  I had to restrain myself from hating those people, combing through their innocent remarks for gloating or ingratitude, and making my pain the focus of their pregnancy.  It wasn’t about me.  They were just pregnant.  People do that.  Life goes on. 

Accepting someone else’s pregnancy seems to splash a little bit of acceptance back onto me, too.  Maybe I can accept my own un-pregnancy in all its forms a little more easily.  Even when the acceptance comes after a wave (big or small) of hurt and fear and anger, it seems to inoculate me against future waves at least a little bit.  She is pregnant.  People do that.  Life goes on.

Had I been able to completely insulate myself from all pregnancies, all the time, I now think I would have grown less.

So I’m not hanging that symbol around my neck.  I claim no special privileges.  People will be pregnant, I will see them, I will hear their joyous announcements.  I may feel bad when I do, for a minute or for a week.  But I’ll try to stay present, and not jump out.  It’ll be cold, and awful, like the pool.  But I’ll just swim through it, I’ll get used to it, and I think

hope

it will hurt less.

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