Forgive me if I seem bitter…

Posted in Infertility by

But over the past few week’s, there have been a number of posts, articles, updates and tweets about pregnancy. More specifically focusing on how unpleasant being pregnant can be.

I’d love to say I know. I’d love to tell you I know how it feels. I’d love to share my own pregnancy related horror stories of tiredness, back pain, needing to pee, all day nausea, hemorrhoids and varicose veins. But I have no story to share. None you all want to hear anyway. None that anyone wants to be able to relate to.

But my truth is I can’t. I don’t know. I don’t know the unpleasantness that is pregnancy.I don’t know the joy of pregnancy either. Only one of my pregnancies was joyful and it was very short lived.

Yes, you read that right, one of my pregnancies. You see, I am the Blessed Barrenness, barren but abundantly blessed. My womb is as desolate as any desert. My body is a baby killer, if you will. I can get pregnant, I just can’t stay pregnant. Seven miscarriages guys, SEVEN.

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Only my first pregnancy was joyful. Because in my innocence, I never dreamed the nightmare of a road that lay ahead of me. And even that was short lived. I only got to experience the joy of pregnancy for a few short days when at 8 weeks I woke up in a pool of my own blood and new the worst imaginable had happened.

What followed was a 7 year nightmare. Pregnancies and miscarriages. Chemical pregnancies – where you’re only a little bit pregnant (did you even know that was possible?) and holding your breath waiting for the inevitable. Surgeries. Doctors. Procedures. Blood tests. Pain. Frustration. Grief. More blood tests, more surgeries. Injections. Injection. Injections. No dignity. I’ve injected myself countless times. In my stomach, in my legs, in my butt. I’ve walked around bruised and battered but determined to keep trying. An empty bank account. And utter hopelessness. Grief. Grief. Grief.

I wish I could share in your stories of how dreadful pregnancy could be. I wish I could. I would love to know. I would take on every ache, pain, discomfort to know what you know. Every last bit of it. But I can’t. And there came a time, when wishing, hoping, praying and trying had to stop. And so I switched gears and found an alternative path to parenthood.

And I am blessed. Abundantly so. I am blessed beyond the realms of my own imaginings. But that doesn’t ever mean that I don’t yearn for your experience. I don’t, in my weaker moments, wish that things could have been different. Or at least the path to my beautiful children could have been conventional. I wouldn’t change my outcome for anything, but I wish I knew what you knew. I wish I could join in your stories of how dreadful pregnancy can be.

I wish.

But I can’t.

And even in your worst pregnancy moments, I hope you know that there are thousands of women, just like me, who read your laments about how awful pregnancy can be and wish to know what you know. Who would trade places with you in a heartbeat. Who yearn to experience what you’re experiencing.

I will never know what those first baby movements feel like. My husband will never lie with his head pressed to my swollen belly. We will never see images of our child on a scan. I will never know what I’d look like pregnant. None of it. And there are times, when there feels like there’s a gaping hole where those memories should be. Where I look back on the days our children were placed with us, and I try to look to what came before that, and there’s just a big expanse of blackness, of nothingness. And I wish I had that little bit of history, I wish I had the pregnancy stories to tell them about when they were in my tummy. I wish…

Be blessed. This pregnancy journey will soon be over and be just a memory, a memory to be treasured because the alternative…. well the alternative is so much worse than what the current discomfort could be.

xx

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66 Comments

  • Reply Jonelle

    I read this and it is both beautifully written and filled with so much sadness. I am one of those who who complain about being pregnant… I know how blessed I am. In fact, we were told by our Dr that we would “never” conceive naturally so to find myself pregnant was nothing short of a miracle. I am so sorry for your awful experiences – one that I will never know… I can only imagine that you would in a heart beat have an uncomfortable pregnancy, over none. As would I. I think the issue is that pregnancy is difficult. It’s something I struggled to adapt to. This doesn’t mean I’m not grateful…and I would never wish my baby away. A baby I love already with more than I knew was possible… but in a world where we are guilted for admitting that it’s not easy for everyone, that makes it harder to cope with.

    For the first few months, I cried alone. Too ashamed to tell anyone how much I was struggling with being pregnant. Too afraid that people would think I’m wishing him away. When i finally found a voice I discovered that I wasn’t alone. That for many – pregnancy wasn’t easy and it was emotionally taxing. I don’t think anyone should suffer silently even though my suffering is nothing in relation to yours.. but it is still suffering non-the-less and no less valid.

    July 23, 2015 at 9:21 am
  • Reply Tam

    I just loved this. I am having a hard time and it is like you climbed into my mind.

    July 23, 2015 at 9:26 am
  • Reply A Love Beyond Measure

    I feel the same. xxxxxxx

    July 23, 2015 at 9:28 am
  • Reply Noelene

    Thank you for those incredible heartfelt words. I am reminded of something that Dallas Willard once said when a friend phoned him in great pain and anguish. Dallas said “This will be a test of your joyful confidence in God”.
    Your testimony is so powerful because you found your ‘joyful confidence in God’.
    God bless and thank you so much for sharing.

    July 23, 2015 at 9:32 am
  • Reply paddatjiesema

    I was one of those that complained about being pregnant because I hated it, hated feeling sick for 9 months, but every time a complaint left my lips I would feel so incredibly guilty because both my sister and sister-in-law couldn’t conceive. And it continued when I complained about their crying through the night when they were babies, or tantrums as toddlers, or that I’m drinking wine to survive the kids homework both of them wished that they could experience that.

    On the one hand I want to share the good and the bad of life with kids with them, but I wish it was easier.

    July 23, 2015 at 9:47 am
  • Reply hilaryjgreen

    I hear your sadness and I identify, but in a different way. I had no trouble being pregnant, but birth is clearly just not my body’s thing. I desperately wanted to experience natural birth, it was what I wanted from the minute I fell pregnant. I did everything I was supposed to but in the end my body let me down. 12 and 10 years later, two amazing children later, I still feel undeniably sad that I couldn’t naturally birth them. I blogged about it here http://wp.me/p5H2N7-11.
    Love and strength to you. And all other women who feel pain and loss, no matter what the reason.

    July 23, 2015 at 10:02 am
  • Reply dummymommy

    I must agree with you here. I am 16 weeks pregnant today and have had a really tough time in and out of hospital but have decided not to blog about my “struggle” as how blessed am I? After a twin miscarriage last year and over a year to fall pregnant again I just give thanks to God daily, as being pregnant is such a miracle and blessing – NO MATTER HOW CRAP YOU FEEL!

    It annoys me to no end when people say “I want my kid born in June, so we’ll start trying in September.” What if you don’t fall pregnant, it’s not that easy, but some people take this for granted and assume it is! I have 500% empathy with people who can’t fall pregnant and wish those that “look at their husbands and fall pregnant” start being empathetic too!!!

    And if you feel sick – suck it up and stop moaning, GIVE THANKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 23, 2015 at 11:28 am
  • Reply Jenny

    I must – with respect – disagree. Many pregnancies are life-threatening and many women suffer different degrees of depression through them – should they keep quiet and pretend to feel blessed because others don’t have the opportunity to go through it? I feel this is almost like saying because you have a baby (if you are infertile) you cannot moan about how hard it is or ever stop feeling blessed – which is just unrealistic as we are human and shit sometimes gets tough and we should always be able to say that and of course we can without ever losing sight of our blessings.

    July 23, 2015 at 11:54 am
  • Reply Correen

    Thank you for your very insightful words. Like Paddatjiesema, both my sisters-in-law are unable to conceive, despite the miracles of IVF, and your blog through the years has given me valuable insight into their lives and considerable loss and suffering. You have given me so much compassion for them.

    I am currently pregnant with my second baby and for me, pregnancy is not physically difficult. I don’t complain since I have nothing to complain about, physically. Yes there is nausea and yes there is heartburn, pain and discomfort but I am one of the lucky ones and it is not unbearable. But pregnancy is still very difficult for me. I struggle with pregnancy nonetheless. I struggle to the point of having anxiety attacks and depression. And this is something that is not disclosed to hopeful mothers-to-be before they fall pregnant. What makes me struggle is the uncertainty of becoming a mother again and the judgement from other women. Judgement that leads to women not supporting one another.

    Both my sisters-in-law discontinued contact with me after hearing that I fell pregnant with our firstborn naturally, at age 36, after trying for 4 years. My mother lives very far away, and therefore my support structure fell apart. My husband works long hours and I am basically alone with baby in the afternoons after work, and during weeknights. I am not expecting a baby shower for this little one, due in 3 months, since this birth is not joyous news to the women in my family.

    The uncertainty and loneliness of this emotional “place” has brought back my anxiety disorder (under control for the last 2 years, after my post partum depression with my first born). I am worried about having a child at age 39. I am anxious about my baby, about Down Syndrome (not even the most accurate tests can exclude this possibility), about birth complications, cerebral palsy, infections contracted from my toddler that can cross the uterine barrier, causing birth defects. I am worried about stillbirth and 2nd trimester miscarriage (a real risk, in my case). About breast feeding and all the societal judgement that goes with this topic.

    I am worried about myself (yes as selfish as that may be). I am worried about birth complications, a repeat of my post partum depression/anxiety and pelvic organ prolapse (about 50% of women suffer from this, in some form, after birth, where your organs “fall” through your pelvic floor). I am worried about not coping, without a support structure, with a toddler and a newborn, especially if the newborn also has colic and cries for 6 hours non stop every night, for endless months. Stretchmarks, unable to lose baby weight, eclampsia… all of these keep me awake at night. Pregnancy and birth, even today, can be life threatening for mother and baby and a woman is seldom as vulnerable. What will happen to my toddler if something goes wrong and I am unable to care for her?

    Pregnancy is a blessing, and I have beautiful memories of my first pregnancy and hope to have the same with this one. I just wish I could share these, as well as my fears and feelings, with my family, as Paddatjiesema has said. I’m living with the guilt every day that I should feel so blessed and happy, but inside I am scared and lonely and it is frowned upon in our society to be anything but gloriously pregnant and happy.

    July 23, 2015 at 12:28 pm
  • Reply Heather

    Ah Sharon, big hugs. I cherish the miracle that I had, and I’m even so bold to pray that I will have it again. But there are no guarantees and I might not. But I know that God’s got a bigger plan than my own understanding of the situation. I am glad you are blessed with your two children. I’m sorry you never had that positive pregnancy experience. It’s hard when you are surrounded by something you want so badly. I tell myself comparison is the thief of joy but it is hard, and I don’t have any answers actually.

    July 23, 2015 at 12:54 pm
  • Reply Nisey

    I have a slightly different view. I think that everyone goes through a hard time and I think that its important to vent appropriately. Whether you’ve had a tough pregnancy or many years of infertility for you that is the struggle you are going through. As a fellow adoptive Mom, I find myself struggling often with the intricacies of my situation and I do moan from time to time but I vent appropriately. To my VERY CLOSE friends, my mom or other family. Not FB, twitter or public platforms. These hard times that we go through are intensely private and if you put them out into the public you are opening yourself up to criticism from people that couldn’t possibly understand what you are going through.
    And more than that I believe that the more energy we give these negative thoughts the bigger the problem becomes. If you have intense heart burn during your pregnancy (a friend of mine had debilitating heart burn) take the meds whine to your bestie and get on with it. Would you rather not have the baby? Can you stop the heart burn? If you can’t fix it and you don’t want to end it don’t moan about it. And that goes for infertility, disease, depression etc. Anything you are going through, do your best to deal with the situation and then make peace with it. Don’t keep whining!
    With the internet, blogs, twitter and FB I think people have trouble drawing a line between sharing and whining. Sharing an experience (negative or positive) allows people to connect, whining about it makes you lonely.

    July 23, 2015 at 4:33 pm
  • Reply Vanessa

    Sorry you are having a hard time. I too will never experience being pregnant and all the experiences associated with that. It doesn’t take away our love gratitude and love for our kids. We experienced a different miracle one that not many people experience.

    July 23, 2015 at 7:14 pm
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  • Reply Kerry

    Sorry but what I tell myself is everyone is tested with what they can handle. You are strong so you were given a tougher experience. So understand that for some people their seemingly lesser experiences feel as tough to them as your experiences felt to you.

    July 24, 2015 at 9:03 am
    • Reply herwordsflow

      Seriously? No offence but I find the thought of only being given experiences because we ‘can handle them’ really off. I can tell you now that I, in no way, ‘handled’ our 15 years of infertility and all the miscarriages we endured AT ALL.

      I’m still not handling it. My body is not handling how little respect I treat it with because of how much it has failed me.

      You’re lucky if you’re available to tell yourself (and convince yourself) that you’ve only been tested with what you have because you can handle it but I think you’ll find, not many will agree with you.

      July 24, 2015 at 9:19 am
  • Reply herwordsflow

    I think Sharon, that once you’ve been through Infertility, it’s something that stays with you forever, such the impact of it on your life. Even when you’re past ‘those stages’, it still has the unfortunate ability to rear it’s unwelcome head and make all those ugly feelings come crashing back to you.

    It used to truly bother and get to me when I would read people grumbling about their pregnancy. When people used to announce their pregnancies on Facebook, I would immediately un-follow them so they wouldn’t show up in my feed to save me having to hear about any grumbles they had during their pregnancy – it was self preservation and if asked, I would tell people that I did it and they would always understand.

    I have had private messages from friends apologising to me for grumbling about their pregnancies and I would ALWAYS reply “grumble away – you’re growing a WHOLE other human in your gut!”. Does it hurt a little to hear others complain about something I’m so desperate to experience for myself? Of course but that doesn’t mean people can’t complain!

    July 24, 2015 at 9:35 am
  • Reply CalT

    I echo how you feel so very often… infertility is like the thorn in your side that just never goes away.

    July 24, 2015 at 9:46 am
  • Reply Wenchy

    I have no idea how you hurt. I won’t pretend to. I have been pregnant six times, but I have three kids. My miscarriages all happened before 12 weeks.

    Thank you for writing.

    July 24, 2015 at 11:01 am
  • Reply catjuggles

    Such a hearfelt gut wrenching post Sharon. I have to admit that I did complain with the first one – it was a rather horrid pregnancy. But by the time the twins came we walked the secondary infertility road and it changed everything. Adding to it that it was a super high risk pregnancy and that I was not supposed to be able to carry twins and every complaint turned into a thank you for just being able to carry them. Lots of love

    July 24, 2015 at 12:23 pm
  • Reply stephanie

    big hugs to u and thanks for sharing this with us

    July 24, 2015 at 8:05 pm
  • Reply momof4

    Thank you for sharing your pain and reminding us how fortunate we have been to be able to bear children

    July 24, 2015 at 10:23 pm
  • Reply Maryna

    Hi Sharon, I respect the incredibly difficult perspective from which you wrote this email. However..

    I remember a time when I would have done or given anything for a pregnancy. When the miracle happened for me, pregnancy turned out to a beast I had completely underestimated. At one stage, we were worried I might permanently lose the ability to walk, for example (as can be the result of a condition I developed during pregnancy). None of this dented my gratitude to be expecting a little person. It just caused me all sort of other black thoughts.

    Google “pregnancy” and “suicide” if you would like a deeper understanding of what some pregnant women go through. You’ll come across facts like this one: “Suicide is a leading cause of death among pregnant and postpartum women in the United States” (Gavin, et al., 2011 p. 239; Chang, et al., 2005)”

    As for saying pregnant women should suck it up and be grateful, one could actually say this for many ‘valid’ causes of distress (in our society) if you use the argument that people should be happy with their circumstances whenever there are others who are worse off.

    E.g.: You’re sad about your mom’s death? You’re missing her? Yeah well, suck it up. At least you had a mom worth missing / at least your mom cared about you / at least your mom didn’t abuse you physically till you nearly died, etc.

    Or: You lost your leg due to cancer? Well, just be grateful for what you have and that you’re alive. Other people lost BOTH legs / are dying due to cancer / would be happier if they didn’t need to walk around anymore.. whatever.

    It would of course be most insensitive of people to complain TO YOU about their pregnancy issues. One could never expect you to understand anything about the dark side of pregnancy. Still, it is there. It is real. It has cost many women (and their unborn babies) their lives. Your post is not doing them any favours or acknowledging their anguish, as per my horribly ungracious examples above.

    Sorry if this maybe comes across rather harshly. Your post definitely struck a raw nerve with me, much as you have every right and every reason to write every word you did.

    July 28, 2015 at 4:38 pm
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