I remember sitting at the office after my fourth IUI didn’t work. My colleague was showing me pictures of her beautiful 2 year old running on the beach. She had no idea what I was going through.
Except that she did. As I cooed over her beautiful child, she opened up about IVF. This had been her 3rd go, it was hell but it was all worth it.
I told her what I was doing and where I was. As I said the words, I could barely hold it together. “Don’t worry,” she said. “It will all work out as it’s meant to.”
Easy for her to say. She had the gorgeous daughter, waving to mama from the sand. Pictures like that are like nails on a chalk board to someone going through fertility treatments. I wanted to get the hell out of there, and then felt even more evil for resenting this mother and her sweet kid.
Maybe that’s why I wasn’t getting pregnant.
I didn’t deserve a kid.
I wouldn’t be good with kids.
I wouldn’t be a good mother.
Some really bad thing I did was coming back as karma.
This was my penance.
These are the thoughts I had when I wasn’t getting pregnant. Maybe you have them too. It’s okay to feel this way. It’s hard to explain the stress of fertility treatments to someone who isn’t in it.
But couldn’t she remember her own stress? She had done IVF 3 times? She had been through this, she was just like me. Didn’t she understand how awful it was for someone to say, “It’ll all work out as it’s meant to”?
First of all: “As it’s meant to?” That clearly means I’m not MEANT to have a child, doesn’t it? Because it sure ain’t working out now. It will all work out – like I’ll come around to the idea of being a barren old maid? Because that’s what it feels when you’re in it.
But when you have distance from the situation, does that change? I was recently speaking with a client who had navigated the fertility maze, and now was at home with her healthy 4-month-old baby girl. I asked her, “Knowing what you know now, would you have said to yourself when you were going through the fertility treatments?”
“I would have told myself to relax. It will work out as it’s meant to.”
The wisdom of hindsight. In the moment, it’s not what we want to hear. Well intentioned people see the possibility of a positive future; it just feels so far away when we’re sitting in a painful present.
Today, my client could see that she needed extra time to prepare herself for the baby. Today, she has the perspective to say the baby came at the exact right time.
When you’re sitting in the problem, you feel it more deeply than anything else. It’s hard to step out of the present and imagine the possibilities that the future can (and will) bring. When you are in it, you may feel excluded from the parenting joy that others have access to. You may get angry, frustrated and jealous. And then the guilt comes in.
Those who love you (including the future you), want to put a window in that wall, so that you can see possibilities. To see the good that can and will come from this.
But at the time, the positive people make you want to scream. Because they give you that hope – they see you with your baby. And after a D&C, a miscarriage, and a chemical pregnancy, it’s almost easier to believe in no baby then to gear up again and believe in the possibility of a viable pregnancy. Hope requires vulnerability.
The pain of longing for your unborn child is a most exquisite pain. Because in this wanting, you have joined the ranks of feral animals that give anything to protect their young. The energy that helps women pick up cars if they think their child is under it. The protective power of a momma bear separated from cub. You have become a mother. And something has come between you and your child.
And that strength, that deep maternal power and connectedness to your core will help you create the child you are meant to have. Because you have already become your powerful mother self. You have become a mother, and the child will arrive, I promise you.
Even though that’s the most painful thing you can hear. If you have the courage to believe it and find peace in it, then that whole labor thing will be a walk in the park.