While riding my bike to the clinic on my seventh day of stims I was overcome gratitude. “Wow,” I thought, “I don’t feel the anger that I used to… I am so lucky to be here and to have this opportunity… we are so lucky… we have flipped this IVF process on its head and are living this amazing adventure.” It was a beautiful and sunny day in Valencia- a quintessential spring day- with birds chirping and fragrant flowers adorning each tree. I gave myself a pep talk and recognized how far I have come from my darkest moments. I realized only then how I had let so much of my deeply held anger and resentment go. On this trip to the clinic my heart was filled with excitement and my mind was content. I had stopped comparing myself to others, stopped worrying about what the future holds.
Instagram’s Punch in the Gut
That night I went on Instagram and I saw a “big announcement” post from someone I follow. Several weeks ago she had announced they were going to start trying “to see what happens” and that they were OK with whatever the outcome was. On this night they announced that they are expecting, and they broke the big news with hash tag #gotitonthefirsttry.
My immediate response was “Fuck you.”
So, I guess I haven’t come as far as I thought.
The Self-Inflicted Pain Caused By Comparison
Trying (unsuccessfully) to get pregnant is hard. There is always someone who has it worse than you, and I don’t mean just from an infertility standpoint. When I look at my other TTC sisters, I see women who have been trying longer, who feel more hopeless, and who have a smaller chance than me to conceive- even with all of the best medical technology in the world. And I want to acknowledge that struggle, and feel thankful for the access to options that MH and I have that others don’t.
However, in some moments I still have that visceral self-pitying response of “Why can’t that be me?” Why do I have to spend $13,000, administer injections and go through a three month (at least!) process after trying for almost two years? Why can’t I have fun and spontaneous sex and then 3 weeks later realize my period is late, and voila, see two pink lines staring me in the face?
Permission to Feel How You Feel
When I was having a particularly tough time, one of my best friends told me that it is OK for me to feel this way. Those words- that permission- took a huge weight of my shoulders. I had felt shame for having negative feelings like jealousy and resentment. And I think that shame made me feel worse about myself than having the actual feelings. Yes, of course it isn’t healthy to bask in a cauldron of negativity. But it is also not healthy to deny how you feel; these emotions tend to fester more when you disclaim them. They also can inflict real damage in a very subversive way.
By acknowledging how I feel, and allowing myself to feel those emotions, it was easier to loosen their grip and make space for how I want to feel: grateful.