Sunday, June 17, 2007

Gone Forever?

In honor of the Commentathon, I am writing a post. It won't be as entertaining as The New Baby Guy, but if people happen to hop over to my blog in an effort to boost their points and find new blogs, I'd like them to read something other than details of my recent BFN Pity Party.

We have all been to waaaay too many of those parties anyway, so no need for me to drone on and on about the anger, disbelief, crushed hopes, broken dreams, despair, and other terrible things that go on at these parties. We know the words to all of the songs, we have all the party favors, and we've gotten sick off all the party food served there. I'm confident that I'll circle back to further explore the range of shitty emotions I'm feeling right now related to the latest BFN, but it's not going to be the topic of this post. (Except that I just spent 14 lines writing about it. Nice.)

Like the Pity Parties, we are also all aware of the changes we go through as a result of IF. None of us are the same people we were when we started TTC. Pretty common things to be ditched along the side of the road are: innocence, naive optimism, emotionally unencumbered sex, and the ability to feel true, pure joy at someone else's pregnancy announcement. But there are dozens and dozens of other ways that we all change -- many are the same for all of us, but many are different. We've lost friends, we've lost joy, we've lost that spark inside of us that used to shine so brightly. I can't possibly express strongly enough how much this sucks.

I had a particularly rough patch about 8 months ago. Three pregnancy announcements -- by very close friends -- in one week sent me over the edge. First was one of my closest friends whom I also work with named Laurie. Shortly after her twins turned 1, Laurie told me she was pregnant again. I'll never forget it, our cubes are right next to each other so she rolled up next to my chair and had a horrible look on her face. I thought someone had died. She spoke very quietly and simply said, "I have something to tell you." Somehow, in that instant, I knew. This woman got pregnant naturally. On the first try. With boy/girl twins. Then, she and her husband decided that they'd like their kids 2 years apart so they did the math and figured out when to start TTC again. Yup, you guessed it. On the first try again. They just had a beautiful baby boy, born 2 weeks after the twins' 2nd birthday. It would be impossible to express the jealousy I feel at being able to plan like that. But I don't need to tell you guys, you already know how it feels.

The next announcement was by my neighbor Lynn whom I see every day. She already had 3 kids aged 4, 3 and 1. Like a complete dumbass, I came home the day of Laurie's announcement and boo-hoo-hooed to Lynn about it. Imagine my surprise when, the very next day, Lynn looked at me -- with exactly the same expression that Laurie had the day earlier and said, "I have something to tell you." You could have knocked me over with a feather. The real kicker is that she was already 17 weeks along and I had no idea. I see this woman every day. I was so wrapped up in my own dramas that I didn't notice a pregnancy right in front of me. She now has another baby girl who, although I get to snuggle on whenever I want, still makes me sad and jealous every time I see her.

The next announcement was by our former nanny named Jessie. It came 2 days after Lynn's announcement. Jessie cared for our daughter Megan part-time starting when Megan was 3 months old. (I work 3 days a week.) Just before Megan turned 2, Jessie and her live-in boyfriend broke up and she decided to move back to Pennsylvania to be close to family. At the time of this decision, she wasn't pregnant, but by the time she moved away, she was. Not by the now-ex-boyfriend, but by another guy. Anyway, she moved away, and a few months later emailed me to tell me she was pregnant. I was stunned. She also now has a beautiful baby boy, although she's only 21 and the father is a lazy, 19 year old loser.

The point of me telling you all this is that all 3 of these people were AFRAID to tell me they were pregnant. Laurie said that the very first thing that went through her head was, "Leah is going to be so upset." She didn't think, "Wow, how great that I'm pregnant!" or "Yeah, we're going to have another baby!" She thought, "Shit, Leah is going to be so upset."

Apparently Lynn went through the same thing. They didn't tell anyone (even their own kids) that she was pregnant for over 4 months because she could never figure out the best way/time to tell me. And if she told her kids, they would certainly tell me since I see them every day. So they kept it a secret until the day before they left for a week long vacation. Lynn said she wanted to tell me just as they were leaving so I "wouldn't have to look at her" while I was adjusting to the idea. The outrageously sad thing is that she was so right. It was a horrible week with lots of mean thoughts and crying, and it was truly best that she was away. I was okay with it (really, what choice did I have?) once they returned.

Jessie was scared to death to tell me. I think hers was also because she knew she messed up by getting pregnant so young with a loser, but she also knew I'd be crushed. That's why she had to tell me over email instead of when we talked on the phone every other week.

I hate that I am now THIS person. I am the person you avoid. I am the person you walk on eggshells around. I am the person who causes you to pick and choose your words. I am the person who makes you filter your conversations so that there aren't any pregnancy stories. I am high maintenance and that might actually be worse than being infertile.

I am this person because of the changes due to IF. As if all the crap that goes along with being infertile doesn't suck enough, we need to add in the fact that our friends and family see us as emotionally fragile. That sucks. I hate that. I was never the emotionally fragile person, the sensitive one. I was the rock-solid person who could handle anything and was there for all of my friends to lean on. That was the Old Me -- funny, carefree, generous, giving, strong. Strong. I miss the Old Me. Every day.

Now they all pussy-foot around me, hoping that I don't crumble. However, one day when I dicussed this with Lynn, she said something really helpful. I was lamenting how I hate that I've become THAT person. The one you are afraid to tell things to. She assured me that I wasn't THAT person, I was just in THAT situation. It made me feel much better, like I hadn't actually lost the Old Me, she was just hiding under layers of shitty situations.

But now, I'm not so sure. I think I might be changed permanently. Surely things will get better when we eventually reach the end of our BabyQuest journey, but will I ever be the same again? I just wonder if that Old Me is gone forever?

31 comments:

Cece said...

I don't know what to tell you... I'm kind of in the same place. I don't think that everyone knows, and I still but on a 'decent' face when I hear of preganacies - but I do know that the people who work with me and know the hormonal rollercoaster ride that I am on get very nerous when tell me bad (work related) news.

: )

Mands said...

I am so very sorry about your BFN. I know that IF changes us, but it's okay to be that person. So what if it makes other people uncomfortable. Being a good friend is being able to face the ugly together without having to always have the right answer, maybe just a hug or a chat and a cuppa. And the good news, is that you have all your online posse to talk to when the world doesn't understand. ((Hugs))

Jenn said...

I think it does change you permenently. It might not always be this intense, but it's always going to be there I think. I don't know how you can go through something so heartbreaking and not come out of it a different person.

Rachel Inbar said...

I popped over from the commentathon :-)

I'm on the other side of infertility and by now such announcements only make me happy.

It is definitely the situation you're in and the old you is still there.

It is great that you have such caring friends who know to be sensitive.

Rachel said...

I am currently expecting, but those announcements are still upsetting to me.

I went to dinner with a friend who is planning a shower for another friend. I finally had to ask her if we could discuss something else because it was beginning to be too much.

Meg said...

Wow - I wrote this exact same post not to long ago. I can totally relate to this. I am sooo sorry about your BFN and what you are going through.

Kate said...

I have a good friend who I know is afraid to call me until she stops breastfeeding so that she doesn't have to bring the baby. It SUCKS. That, and the fear that someone else will announce a pregnancy. Your post really rang true for me.

Aunt Sassy said...

Glad to have found you through Commentation!

Yeah, I have run into the same problem. When my sil got preg, how I was to be told apparently became the big family problem for the week. What??? I am a strong independant woman. I hate that they see me like a fragile egg that will break at the mention of pregnancy. Having said that... I did have a good cry after giving heartfelt congrats to sil.

Oh well.

M said...

Inevitably, we change because of life events. IF is a life event. No doubt about it. I'm on the other side now and the pregnancy announcements STILL burn like a SOB. I don't know that I'll ever get over the jealousy regardless of where I am on my journey.

Inconceivable said...

i have to tell you - I am not in the same phsyicall place as you but mentally -- IM THERE- thank you for sharing that story. I'm not "THAT person" its "THAT situation" that comforts me because it means it is temporary !! Glad We are in the same boat

Jenna said...

Our friends can't seem to win and neither can we. If they didn't mind telling us this kind of news we would think they were insensitive. If they withheld it, we would think they were isolating us. I too, hate that this is the person I am after so many years of frustration and disappointments. hang in there.

Somewhat Ordinary said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I hate these announcements and actually unoffically got one last night that sort of blind-sided me. I hate being that person too!

In and Out of Luck said...

I'm sorry. I relate - I have a friend who was sort of coy about the "good things going on in her life" when it was all code for "I'm pregnant but I won't actually tell you because you're infertile and you'll get sad." I was mad at that, and would have preferred a straight-up "I'm pregnant. And I wanted you to know." I know what you mean - how did I become THAT person?

Nearlydawn said...

My assvice? Maybe you can take your good friend's statment to heart. She KNOWS you aren't "that person" that you are just in a tough situation. She, and others, loves you. They are just the kind of people we all hope we will have around us. The ones that don't say insensitive pg things... The ones that are easy on the pg language... The ones that love and support us through these dark hours. Simply try to love them back as much as they love you.

Amy said...

FIrst, so sorry for your latest news.

I'm new to the blogosphere, and your post so rang true for me. My playgroup for my 4-year-old is a small group, but as I got deep into my struggles with IF nearly all of them became pregnant with their 2nd child. It was awful for me and them. I couldn't believe I was THAT PERSON, both the one with IF and that other one.

I think IF does change you, I just hope that in the long run that it is a change for the better. :-)

Bean said...

Leah, Wow - your post made me cry, I feel like you could have been writing about me. I still remember how hurt I was when one of my closest friends told me she was pregnant with her second. She was one of the first and few people in whom I've confided about all this IF. Anyway, when she told me she was pregnant it came out that she'd already told a bunch of other mutual friends and it really stung me that she hadn't told me first. That may sound very middle school, but I KNOW that if it weren't for the IF I would have been one of the first people she told. And of course while I felt sad for this little wall that had gone up between us I couldn't blame her. In fact, when I got back to the office after lunch that day, I shut my door, thought about the fact that she tried for a month, while I'd been trying for a year and a half, thought about the fact that she'd gotten pregnant right about the time of my 2nd failed IVF, and then I cried and cried. And even if this current cycle works and I end up with a real live baby in 9+ months, I don't ever think I'll go back to being the who I was before. There are two families in my daughter's daycare who have 3 children in the center (both had 3 kids within 4 years). I can hardly look those parents in the eye when I see them. I feel like a total shit about that, but I worry that it will ever change. I worry that I won't ever hear about a pregnancy of a non-IF without wincing and feeling jealous. I suspect time will ease it, but I don't expect it to go away. My daughter was born 8 weeks premature 4 and a half years ago, and still I can hardly stand to hear people complain about how big or awful they feel in the last two months of pregancy or about their happy birth stories. If that hasn't gone away, I'm not sure how I'll get over this stuff no matter what the outcome. Hmmm? I'm just a big ole downer aren't I. I guess that point of that long post is that I get it and I'm sorry you're there. Big hugs coming your way.

Also, thanks for your note, I really appreciate it. And I'm really disappointed about tomorrow night, but I swear I'll be at the next one!

Lara said...

You know whats funny? I am the girl who can hide her feelings about all this so well that everyone tells me everything without censoring themselves! Sometimes THAT really sucks! As for the dates of my cycle. Not sure yet. I go to the RE on Thursday and will find out then I suppose. It's a DE FET and tomorrow should be cycle day 1, so I'm guessing it's going to be a transfer probably around July 4th somewhere? I will let you know so you can hold that magic stone and think good thoughts for me! :)

xxoo
Lara

kati said...

I like what your friend said. It's THAT situation. I thought about that when I received the birth announcement of one of my friend's third child. In the time that I have tried so hard to have a second child, she not only had one but two kids. Though it does sting less these days, it still stings.

KarenO said...

I have a whole bunch of mixed feelings about posts like this one of you: so close to my situation that it could've been me. On the one hand its so comforting to know there are people out there that feels EXACTLY the way I do and that someone else understands 100% about the pain in my heart. On the other hand it is heartbreaking to read about your sorrow, and I so wish I could make it easier for you!

You won't ever be the old you again, but its not a bad thing. And yes, things do get better, not always as fast and trouble free as we want them to, but if you take it one day at a time, you'll be OK. Hang in there!

PS: thanks for the comment on my blog yesterday, I really do appreciate it! :)

Caro said...

I wonder the same things. I really wish I could get the old me back.

Imogen and David said...

Honestly who really knows? I just hope and pray that the old me does return one day and the same for you and anyone else in our position.

Needles said...

WOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW I AM THAT PERSON TOO!!!!!! we are the same person...those that know about my issues tread carefully around me. Then I just brave face it to those that are cluless about my quest. You sparked a new idea for a post for me....VERY Good topic and a good read.
I wont lie or try to tell you not to feel that way because Iagree with you 100%. I hate everyone that is fertile and I even look at their offspring with a twinge of anger as well....horrible but natural for us.

Michelle said...

I like how your friend Lynn put it.

I'm pregnant after IVF, and I still feel a pang of jealousy when friends get pregnant easily and BY SIMPLY HAVING SEX! I knew it took my friend 9 mos to get pregnant with #1 (before we'd started trying), and yet I was still a little sad for me when she got pregnant quickly with #2. Another friend told me that they are going to start trying for #2 in September because she'd like a June baby (#1 happened on the first try). As much as I'm happy for them, I'm sad for me that it's not that way for us, too.

So, no, I'm not sure that, once infertile, one ever stops being THAT person (though perhaps the pussy-footing by others does end).

Sticky Bun said...

Wow. It's so hard to hear that people are afraid to announce their pregnancies. Hard because, well, they're not wrong to worry that it will be hard. It is hard.

As for the "old you", it's true that IF changes us probably in some ways that will last. But, we are all shaped by everything that happens to us, the good and bad. And the immediacy of the pain will not always be with us.

I'm sorry you're having a hard time...but we really do understand. I hope there is some comfort in the thought that you're not alone...

hang in there! thinking of you...

Pamela Jeanne said...

From my experience, I can tell you that you'll be a different person -- not better, not worse, just different. How can you not be? It's the same for anyone who's undergone a traumatic and completely foreign experience. You'll also be a kinder and more sensitive and empathetic person. It's a bitch that we had to learn this the hard way...

Karen said...

It was really great to meet you tonight. :)

Changing Expectations said...

The back to back pregnancy announcements are so frustrating. I was almost brought to tears today at work when I thought (just thought) that one of those announcements was coming (it never did). I felt like an emotional wreck. Hang in there.

It was so nice meeting you tonight. I hope that we make it a regular event!

Lea Bee said...

not! not gone forever. it was wonderful to meet you tonight and i hope we get to do this again soon.

Tuesday said...

You know, I can always count on others in my situation (IF) to understand and nod when I post things like this. It's a very refreshing feeling despite the circumstances. I haven't got all the eggshells around me yet but there are enough that my sister-in-law was afraid to tell us she was pregnant. She had been trying for a while after chemo so of course I was happy for her, but she didn't know how I'd take it.

I'm rambling. All I know is that without the support of all the IF bloggers out there, I wouldn't be as strong as I am today. I wouldn't be able to put up with the pregnancy announcements or the baby showers or any of that.

I'm glad we have a community even though the reason is sucky.

Also, I hope you have a fantastic day today.

Carrie said...

I like the fact that we are not that person merely in that situation. That's good.

I'm the opposite. I've hidden my situation from all except one friend (who has two girls but then suffered premature menopause) This was to try not to be 'that person' but it really hasn't worked. Instead I've become withdrawn and quiet, keeping everyone, even family, at a safe distance. Very secretive and general when talking about my plans. In fact just dishonest really. And they don't even know why I've changed. I think that's worse than being 'that person' in some ways. I wish I'd had the guts to be more honest. Inappropriate pride my counsellor called it :-(

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