The Sucker Punch BFP

I’m about to write about something that is rarely written about. It will probably make people uncomfortable. It makes me uncomfortable, incredibly so. I have waffled on whether I would write this post for weeks. I finally sat down to do it because I can’t seem get past it and I hope that maybe, by writing about it, I will be able do just that. Lord knows I need to just get over this already.

Recently there has been a “rash” of surprise pregnancy announcements in my reader. IFers who had been worried about how they might continue building their families have suddenly realized that they need worry no longer, because not only are they pregnant, they are half way through the first trimester.

I will of course say, and this is absolutely the truth, that I am first and foremost thrilled for these women. I truly am delighted that their family building endeavors will not require ART, at least not at the present time. I am so happy for them that the were able to experience the surprise BFP that eludes most IFers. I absolutely hope that they have nothing but healthy and happy pregnancies and safe births ahead.

But, I will also say, this has been… difficult for me.

I wasn’t sure at first what it was. There was something about these surprise IF pregnancy announcements that just hit harder than other pregnancy announcements. It wasn’t until today, actually, when another blogger very articulately described what was different about these BFPs, that I got it. Ironically, she is one of the bloggers who recently got a surprise BFP. This irony was not lost on her.

I understand quite well the false sense of security that you feel with your IF friends–you feel like you don’t have to worry about suckerpunch pregnancies, like you’d have some foreshadowing of a pregnancy because some measure of treatment (deets about which you’d surely dish on some level) would be involved. For me, those surprise pregnancies from my IF friends were more shocking and startling than the random FB drive-by pregnancy announcement. Don’t get me wrong–I am happy for all of your pregnancies, you know who you are. But, I will openly admit that they were momentarily disorienting. The irony that I am in possession of one of these urban legend fetuses is not lost on me.

So I guess that is part of it, that I just wasn’t prepared. When we read someone’s ALI blog, we expect to be privy to their family building plans and efforts so we’re not expecting a BFP announcement randomly, out of the blue. With fertile friends of the Facebook variety, after their first child reaches a certain age one starts expecting that the announcement of their second child will be forthcoming. I have a few IRL friends whose (very infrequent) calls I almost always let go to voicemail now because I assume that is why they are reaching out. I was very grateful that my cousin emailed me, knowing it would be somewhat difficult for me to hear her news.

But with IFers you just aren’t expecting it, because well, they’ve suffered from IF. We all hate when people assume that one successful pregnancy guarantees many more to come, and without intervention to boot! I guess we just don’t expect our friends to be those urban legends, at least I didn’t. At least, not so many of them.

I’m actually very grateful to that blogger for explaining to me one aspect of why it’s so hard. If she still read my blog I’d say thank you.

The other effect of these surprise BFPs, I’ve noticed, is to make me feel more broken. As each person who just gets pregnant without trying (or not trying long or hard) settles into my understanding of the world, I am further confused that I can’t seem to do the same.

I have this cycle of thoughts I run through, it goes something like this. First I run through all the people I know who recently got pregnant easily. Then I wonder why I can’t do the same. I list all the possible reasons why it’s not happening, maybe my eggs are crap, maybe Mi.Vida’s swimmers are shit, maybe my hormones are still not high enough to sustain a pregnancy if it’s happening, maybe it’s just really shitty luck, time and time again.

Then I decide that it’s obvious what the difference is between these people who get pregnant and me: The want it more. They are better people, better mothers. They will love a second child more than I could. They are more grateful for what they have. They deserve it more. It my dark envy that keeps me from getting pregnant. It is my depression that denies me another child. It’s my own fault I can’t make my daughter a big sister.

Of course I don’t believe these things to be true. If someone said this to any of the women I know who are trying–and failing– right now to get pregnant I would be the first to stand up in their defense. I would never think these things about someone else, but I am always thinking them about myself.

So that is where I am. These surprise IF pregnancy announcements are wearing me down. I just don’t know how to handle them. I want to be there for these women but I just don’t know how to shake this cycle of self-deprecating thoughts. I don’t know how to put in perspective.

I know the statistics. I know that four months of trying is an entirely reasonable, normal amount of time to try. IT’S NOTHING!! I KNOW THIS, in my head. But every story of pregnancy easily achieved seems to make a mockery of those statistics and I don’t know how to reconcile what I read and what I see.

And to all those who are reading this and are trying for a second (or a first) child, and have been trying infinitely longer than I have, and spent tens of thousands doing so, please don’t think I look past you. I do not. I think of you each and every day. I try to understand how people who want children so desperately can be denied them. I try to make sense of the longing they are forced to feel, the panic, the pain, the desperation. Every day I think of every one of you and hope with all my heart that you are able to complete your families in the way you hope and dream to. I have lost faith in the world, watching the women of this community suffer, and I doubt I’ll ever get that faith back again.

And now I’d love to hear from you all. Am I crazy on this? Do these surprise IF BFPs hit a little closer to home for you? Or is it just me? How do you handle the mixed emotions involved?

If you’d like to email me or comment anonymously on this one, please feel free to do so. I’d much rather hear people’s honest thoughts than socially acceptable versions.

14 responses

  1. I know what you mean. My mom just told me about my second cousin, who went through IVF several years ago and had boy/girl twins. I nodded. “Then, she had a surprise pregnancy! She has an 18-month old girl!”

    I felt like I had been punched. I was happy for her, but sick. We’re the same age. My “surprise pregnancy” didn’t work out in a live baby. It still makes me very sad. It’s surprising how very often it still makes me so very sad.

    So while I’m happy for those who have surprise BFPs after having twins, they make me sad, because they remind me of what will never be for me.

  2. the surprise aspect of any announcement can be disorienting for anyone struggling to conceive. certainly many IRL surprises have knocked the wind right out of me. IRL it got to the point where it was like ‘of COURSE she’s pregnant again’ (ie, no surprise there). there is a sort of security reading IF blogs, but that IS the ultimate goal, isn’t it? still, it can be hard to face when dealing with your own issues and asking ‘why not me?’

    now as one of the more rare urban legends — i.e., someone who announced a most unexpected pregnancy after 10 yrs of known infertility, more than 7 yrs after we started trying and 3 yrs after we stopped and shifted to adoption — the “surprise BFP” (well into the 2nd trimester) did not lead to spontaneous excitement and joy as it might for another IFer. quite honestly, I was terrified. 42yo with zero testing, high risk and my only pg resulting in a late-term loss… my blog was as safe a place as any for someone wanting to avoid such announcements. yet there I was, titling it something like ‘I don’t even know what to call this and you may not want to read it.’ at that point I was sure it would end badly and I just needed to write through it…

    I was relieved when we shifted to adoption and were finally among those no longer trying; gone was the fear of those surprises (until mine…). telling our adoption group was similarly difficult, particularly because it was such a SAFE place. I was very sensitive to that and even cringed when I hit send on the email. it meant the world to me when every single woman in our group replied.

    so I get what you’re saying. here we don’t expect to be sideswiped. but again since it’s the ultimate goal, maybe it’s not so shocking when someone gets pregnant when they’re still TTC? like any surprise, it can be disorienting, but I think there’s also the idea that a peer is moving on and leaving you behind (leaving you to keep asking ‘why not me?’).

  3. I can completely relate to the sucker punch feeling, both as an IFer/loss survivor, and as someone with a recent ‘surprise’ BFP for (hopefully) #2. I’ve had that feeling in the pit of my stomach more times than I have ever cared to count. Both while struggling for #1, while pregnant, and while parenting. I had seven BFP calls during my ectopic. Totally, totally sucked. They feel different now, but it is still there.

    But my surprise BFP for #2 was also a sucker punch – for me. Seeing two lines made me question everything I thought I knew to be true about myself and my body for the last six years. My identity (here and in my head) and the very small place I occupy in this community. It is a mix of feelings I cannot describe – all the usual feelings of anxiety and terror associated with hoping and praying for a real live baby, but also the anxiety and terror f wondering how the community will accept the announcement (which I struggled, and wept, over writing). The circumstances of this conception. Of this baby that I wasn’t “trying” for. Because I TRIED for all of my pregnancies, even if that trying wasn’t sequential or chronological, even if I wasn’t injecting myself with drugs this time. I tried to keep them all healthy and alive. I have adjusted my lifestyle to manage my condition, for life. I feel now like some of that heartache and effort of trying has been paid forward, built into this surprise BFP. I don’t believe it was easy, or without trying in that sense. It’s a mindfuck too. I never got that until I was ironically on the other side. I am not writing this now to be contrary to your feelings (which are real, valid, and totally understable), but to show that it is a tough bag to hold over here too.

    In short, I just wanted to say that I can relate to how much these things sting, and that how raw the wound is really depends on the day. I wish nobody ever had to feel this way.

    • I actually, really, really appreciate your comment and hearing what this is like for you. I’ve kind of been watching the blogs of women this has happened to, waiting to read a post like this one, to see what it has been like for them, both because I’m curious and want to live vicariously through them (as I know now that this will never happen to me) and also because I just want to understand what it is like for them as I assume it is a kind of mindfuck and I think reading about what it is like for them can help me move past this endless cycle of negativity, where I find myself. But I haven’t read any posts like that yet and that has been, well, another difficult thing. Not that I think people should write what I want to read, but just because I felt it would be helpful for me. And it is helpful, reading your thoughts on this. So it is with deep gratitude that I write this response to your comment. I am humbled that you explained a bit of what it is like here, the ways in which is messed with your understanding of yourself and your place in this community.

      I do hope for nothing but a healthy and happy nine months for you, that this is the second baby you hope to have.

      • Thank you so much for the above.

        But honestly? I an too afraid to write that post. To seem ungrateful. I had a terrible experience with an IRL IF friend during my son’s pg. Basically told to STFU because at least I was pg. Everyone else thinks you should “just be happy.” So you are stuck, voiceless. And I don’t feel safe enough to add more.

        I just want everyone reading to know that there are complex emotions all around. Thanks for the space to share.

  4. It’s funny, I am really not reading many blogs whose authors are pregnant, so I have not been experiencing this. In fact, I hardly know anyone in real life who’s pregnant right now, either. But I do think I know what you mean. When I was trying for #2, I kept thinking of all the people I knew (bloggers and IRL people) who’d needed significant assistance getting pregnant the first time, and then got pregnant accidentally or at least very quickly the second time. They had me totally convinced that would be me, and much like you, when it didn’t happen quickly for me I assumed that meant it would take forever and maybe even be harder than the first time. That turned out not to be the case. It does feel very strange to be in the place where I’m in: I am well aware of how harmful those myths are about “if you just relax…”, and I worry that by sharing any of my stories I might be perpetuating those myths and hurting other women. But it’s my reality, and apparently a lot of other people’s realities as well. So, what to do about it? Depends on who I’m talking to. If it’s one of my IRL friends, I might say “it’s nothing. It takes a lot of people longer.” If it’s a blog friend, I might remind them that I have unexplained infertility, and that does not necessarily imply that someone who has documented issues could get pregnant independently after needing medical intervention in the past.

    This is an interesting post, though. I am glad you decided to go ahead with it!

  5. Yes. I think any surprise announcement of someone else’s good fortune is hard, whether it be a pregnancy, amazing new job, or gorgeous new home. It’s a tough balance on being happy for the person and dealing with your own feelings of jealousy and/or (in my case) insecurity.

    As someone who recently got a surprise BFP, I will tell you honestly, it’s been hard. While I am excited and amazed about this little life inside of me, it’s been different this time. At times I’ve been resentful of being so sick, of this suprise taking time away from my son already, and of my changing body, which isn’t as fun and magical this time- I just feel fat and lumpy, honestly.

    I’m a planner and I didn’t plan this- sucker punch is probably a good term for how I felt the first few days after peeing on that stick. With my son starting school this fall, I was finally going to get some time for myself- I was going to get back in shape, maybe go back to work some. Now everything’s changed, and while completely a blessing, it’s still been hard to work through.

    I hope this doesn’t sound too negative or whiny- again, I am way more excited than not, and I realize how lucky and blessed I am with a chance for a seond child. I think it’s so brave of you to write your true feelings on this- and without a doubt in your position I would feel exactly the same.

    • It doesn’t seem whiny or negative at all, in fact it is really positive for me to see what this is like, because honestly I have no idea. I’ve always thought I would like to experience this, but my partner is absolutely against the idea of our family happening organically/without planning, for him every single choice needs to be exhaustively thought over and hashed out until we’re absolutely sure it is the best possible move, under the circumstances. I’ve been very resentful of that way of going into this, I just didn’t want my family to come about that way, but I understand where he is coming from and it’s true, we just don’t have the resources to have children whenever we want. But it’s really interesting to read how this has been for you, you bring up all sorts of points I never would have considered. So thank you for your very honest account of what it has been like. I really appreciate it.

  6. Sorry – Matthew posted that before I was done, obviously 😉

    The surprise IF BFP’s have messed with me in a different way. They have made me feel like it can happen for me too. But I know it can’t – or most likely – won’t. We have MFI – severe MFI. Two years ago, or RE said that my husband could easily be 100% sterile in 2 years time – and that time has come. What could have made me forget that? All of the surprise BFP’s out there have made me forget that until JUST NOW. I am over a week late and have taken enough HPT’s to know that I’m not pregnant, but because of all the surprise BFP’s in the IF world right now, prior to those tests, I believed that I had been granted some good luck as well. I was not totally deflated from by BFN’s, because come on – I knew that I couldn’t REALLY be pregnant, but I took them differently than in the past. I felt even more defeated because I had a little more hope this time because it had happened to people “like me.”

    I think this is going to hit me even harder when we start treatments next month (if I ever get my post-nursing period!) and we fail – which we statistically WILL do (we’re doing an FET first this time, and to get Matthew, we had to do 1 fresh cycle, then an FET, then another fresh cycle. The odds are not in our favor). I have no reproductive issues myself – I always produce 10-16 super strong eggs and my cycles are like clockwork – and we have the easiest type of IF to treat – but it took 3 cycles to get pregnant last time. I will likely STILL not be pregnant by the time these ladies deliver – and that is going to hurt my heart 😦

    And now – I’m in tears. I did not know this was causing me as much anxiety as it is. Ugh.

  7. I get it. And I think that the other blogger is right … there’s something about the planning of treatments that lures us into thinking that we can predict pregnancy without the surprise. On the other hand … the negatives are as much of a surprise, too, aren’t they? Because we think that if you do A and B, you’ll get C? Or at least more of a chance that you’ll get C? So why are we not as sucker punched by the failures of planning as we are by the unplanned successes? It’s a strange paradox.

    I *had* a surprise BFP. And it still boggles my mind, and it doesn’t make the other surprise BFPs any easier to process.

  8. Yes. Sucker-punch says it so well. Its that feeling of being gutted, can’t breathe, the longing. I still feel it, even after having #2 (neither one “surprise” or intervention-free, but #2 happening quickly). Its for this experience that I’ll never get to have…getting pregnant without TTC, RE, OPK, IUI and 2WWs. All those acronyms I wish I didn’t know. But I very very much appreciate SRB and Elizabeth above for discussing the “other side”. And as another “planner”, I have to admit, I might be a bit gutted by a surprise BFP also… Great post, and fantastic discussion!

  9. Pingback: The Infertility Voice | On Inevitability: Contemplating BFPs, Blogging in the Limelight and Necessary Naïveté

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