How Infertility Feels for Me When a New Pregnancy is Announced
My brother and his wife are pregnant. Again. Naturally the grandparents are thrilled. Everyday and everything is “baby this” and “baby that.”
I wonder what the sex will be? I wonder what they’ll name the baby? Just “X” more weeks before the baby arrives! I can’t wait to meet the baby!
I am not pregnant. I never will be. And while I love being an aunt and am excited to meet my newest niece/nephew, I cry when my family is not around. I cry because I will never know the many, many experiences that come from pregnancy, childbirth and rearing a child that resembles my husband and I. I cry because I feel like I am being denied one of life’s greatest gifts. I cry because none of this was my decision and I feel hopeless, powerless and broken.
I cry because, amid the hubub, no one seems to think of how their baby fever affects me. To me, no one seems to consider or think, “I know Erin can’t have children. I wonder if it bothers her that all of our conversations, all of our joy, all of our focus, revolves around something Erin will never have?”
The complete lack of respect for my feelings is perhaps what hurts the most.
I am the first in my family to have chronic illness, so no one in my bloodline understands how lonely and isolating it can be. No one understands infertility due to illness, or the emotional and psychological fallout that comes with it, because none of them have had to face those challenges. I’ve come to terms with that truth. What I haven’t come to terms with, however, is the double-edged sword that is “asking for consideration.”
When I tell family members, “Hey, can we lay off the baby talk for a while? It’s hard on me because I am unable to have children.” I am not met with compassion or understanding. I am met with, “Why can’t you just be happy for your brother? Why do we all have to be upset just because you are?”
If I don’t say anything – hold my tongue and plaster on a smile – life continues to revolve around the baby and I continue to suffer alone. It’s a tough row to hoe.
I’ve been avoiding my father’s calls for a week now because he won’t respect my boundaries, and I can’t face another conversation about “the baby.” Between calls I rack my brain to think of a way to be there for his joy, while at the same time not allowing him to invalidate my pain. If I figure it out, I’ll answer the phone.
When the baby arrives I will love him/her wholeheartedly, as I love the babies that have come before. It is reasonable that my family expect me to love our future generations. But I do not think it is fair or reasonable to ask those of us with chronic illness to deny our truth – that infertility can be devastating. It’s emotionally and psychologically painful. It’s a loss and it is reasonable to acknowledge, support and accept a person who is struggling with it.
Empathy. Or, at the very least, sympathy. It’s easy. It’s simple.
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