The End of “The Only Ones”

Sometimes, just when you think you have life all figured out, it throws you a curve ball.

This weekend we went to a friends’ child’s third birthday party. We rarely see them and were happy to have a few moments to catch up. These are actually Mi.Vida’s friends so he spent a lot of time talking with the father while I chased Isa around, trying to keep her cute spring dress and pink shoes in tact.

After we left Mi.Vida told me that they were pregnant. This surprised me because I remember last year the mom saying that because she was just starting a new job they would have to wait for a few years before adding to their family. Their kids would probably be four or five years apart but there wasn’t much she could do because as a lawyer, she had to be available in those first years with her new firm.

As I did the math I realized the timing actually did work out, as their son just turned three so by the time their next child was born it would be almost a four year gap. I thought, wow, they probably got pregnant on the first try, just like last time. Literally as I was forming this though, Mi.Vida added that they’d been trying for a year and a half and had suffered a loss during that time.

I was caught so off guard by that. I was just so surprised. They got pregnant the very first month of trying the first time, I know this because they complained a few times about it, as they had been told it would take longer and weren’t feeling quite ready since it happened so fast. The fact that the second time around they struggled so long and hard shocked me. As I let it sink I realized that they must have been trying when she made that comment to me, the one about having to wait because of her job. I wondered why she said that then. Maybe because her kid was two and she had been fielding questions about when they would have another. Did she want to head me off at the pass? Assure herself that at least this family wouldn’t be asking her when they might have another kid? (I hadn’t by the way, she had just offered the information).

It was so strange to process this new information, to move this family from one category in my mind to another. Now, they are no longer one of the families that has it so easy. Now they are one of the families who has suffered for to have the children they want. I have to admit, it changes the way I think of them.

I also have to admit, after it all sunk in, I started feeling the fear. We’re so close to trying again–when my period shows up this week it will officially be our first CD1 of TTC#2–and I’m starting to feel anxious and worried, overwhelmed by what could go wrong. Hearing a story like this is hard for me right now. I know it’s not about me. I know their story has nothing to do with my own. But a reminder like this, of what can happen, of what DOES happen even to people who have it easy the first time, well it’s just a difficult reminder.

Mi.Vida was frustrated. The way he saw it, I could never be happy. If people have it easy I feel frustrated and envious. If the have it hard I feel scared and anxious. Basically there is no TTC story that doesn’t effect me negatively.

Of course, he doesn’t want the alternative. He doesn’t want, and would never expect, me to celebrate in the face of others’ struggle. Just because someone’s easy experience makes me feel frustrated or upset doesn’t mean the inverse is true; I am not gleeful upon hearing my friends’ troubling news. In fact I felt incredible grief for what they endured.

I will admit though, as I grieved for them I also breathed a sharp sigh of relief. I felt relief that I am not the only one who has struggled, that we are not the lone couple that argued over when to start to start trying, that suffered a loss and not being able to get pregnant. We’re not the only couple of our friends who didn’t enjoy the perfect family building experience. There is something about not being the only ones that brings me relief. And I feel horrible feeling that way. It’s not that I want anyone else to suffer, it’s not that I want people I know and love to have to go through this, but knowing I’m not the only one of our friends who has walked this path, it just brings me a strange sense of solace. I hope that doesn’t make me an awful person, but I understand if it does.

Later Mi.Vida was telling me about a comedian he loves who was interviewed on a podcast he enjoys. Evidently he and his wife also had troubling conceiving their second and eventually adopted. I have to admit, two stories of secondary infertility a week before we start trying again has me spooked. I’m decidedly less sure of the choices we made to wait, to get ready for our second attempt with diet changes and acupuncture. I wonder if I’ve made a huge mistake. I wonder if I’ll regret the path we chose.

Of course there is nothing to do to change it. We waited and now all we can do is suffer the consequences–whatever they may or may not be.

 

8 responses

  1. I completely understand your feelings. The support I received while trying to conceive Matthew came mostly from two women who had gone through the same thing. We had this very conversation – that it’s nice knowing we’re not the only ones. This is why I tell almost EVERYONE about our TTC struggles – because if they’re going through the same thing, I want them to know that THEY are not the only ones either.

  2. It totally makes sense to me that any and every TTC/conception/pregnancy story, no matter which side of the coin it falls on, would tap into this deep well of emotion for you – and it’s all mixed together, the envy-fear-anxiety stuff. Does your yoga practice help you manage some of this?

  3. “If people have it easy I feel frustrated and envious. If the have it hard I feel scared and anxious.”

    I can relate to that statement and appreciate where you are coming from writing this post and being honest about how finding out about others’ experiences trying to conceive had effected you.

    I agree I wouldn’t wish infertility or loss on anyone, but finding out we aren’t the only ones certainly can be comforting.

    I am excited and cautiously optimistic with you and Mi.Vida as you prepare to begin TTC#2. You truly never know what may happen this time around. I don’t think it is all bad that you are not more naive about what could go wrong. However, I do think you can be both realistic and hopeful at the same time.

    Sending positive and fertile thoughts and prayers as you begin your journey trying to expand your family. xoxo

  4. I’m the same way. Whatever the story, I somehow relate it to my own, either by being envious or anxious, even though it has nothing to do with me. I think that’s what frustrates my husband, that we’ve hardly begun our story, but I let others’ have such a profound effect on my mood and expectations. I wish you nothing but the best in your attempts to grow your family!

  5. I think it’s always complicated isn’t it? The fear is there no matter what, and anything can expand it – so if someone has immediate success it accentuates our difficulties, and if they have difficulties, we assume we will too. It’s hard to “look on the bright side” when we know what the “dark side” is like. Men seem to be able to discount that and put it aside. I often quote my husband who told me “you don’t understand, if we (men) don’t want to think about something, we don’t!”

    I could of course tell you about the women I know who suffered loss and difficulties conceiving their first, but had their second and sometimes third (or more) without problems. It was as if their bodies learned what they were supposed to do. But I know that’s like people telling me of women who conceived in their 40s. No help whatsoever!

  6. I absolutely get this. We can’t help but relate others’ struggles to our own; that’s part of what makes us human. I hope that your second goes without a hitch, but I also know that we try to protect ourselves by expecting or anticipating the worst. I think that’s human, too. *hugs* to you as you begin this leg of the journey …

  7. I get this too. One of dh’s cousins came to mind… wonderful guy, an usher at our wedding. He & his wife married in their early 30s, both obviously loved kids — and then the years started going by, & no babies. I didn’t LIKE to think that someone else was struggling to build a family as we had. And yet at the same time, it was comforting to know we weren’t the ONLY married couple in the family without children. She was the one person I could depend on at family gatherings to talk with about something else besides kids (our jobs, travel, house renovations, etc.).

    And then, when she was about 42 & had been married about 10 years, she got pregnant and had a baby girl. Followed by a boy when she was 45. IVF, so the whispered family gossip goes. I guess they finally found the magic formula, & I am happy for them, but we are back to being the odd couple out again, & that sucks sometimes. :p

  8. My own experience has been that the vast majority of people in our circle struggled with primary or seconday IF (or both). It’s complete luck, as I have known most of these couples since before they were married, and yet only one or two have NOT had problems. I think it’s a lot more common than we realize, and that most people just don’t feel as open to write or talk about it because of the *perception* that problems are so rare.

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