I told you so

Recently Cristy wrote a really important post about how those around her are eager to erase her infertile past as they enthusiastically embrace the couple’s current joy. So many people seem to insist that now that she’s pregnant, her infertility is a thing of a past; some even seem to imply that it never happened at all.

For me it is encapsulated in my FIL’s know-it-all, “See!” As if he somehow knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that this would happen, that everything would be okay. Like somehow his insistence that it would all work out was more accurate than the dire diagnoses we received from trained medical professionals interpreting actual lab results. The know-it-all I-told-you-so is really hard for me to swallow.

And this is for a girl who only had to bang her head against the wall for a year of trying and then process two shitty diagnoses for a couple of months before getting knocked up the “old fashioned way.” I can’t even imagine how demeaning it would feel if I’d struggled with failure and loss for 2+ years and only got/stayed pregnant on my final attempt at IVF. If people wrote off my past then I’d be fucking furious.

As it is, I sometimes dread telling people who knew what we were going through that we’re pregnant. Not long ago, on the eve of our 6 week appointment, I called my grandmother for a quick chat and no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t tell her that I was pregnant. I know how much she wants this for us and I know it pains her to see me struggle, but I also know that when I tell her it finally happened she’ll be all full of know-it-all I-told-you-so’s, quickly brushing the last year under the rug, pretending it didn’t happen and pointing out that she was right, that in the end, everything worked out okay.

And that kind of shit drives me pretty crazy right now. I just don’t want to hear from anybody that they knew it was going to be okay. Because they didn’t know. This amazing thing happened but they never knew it was going to happen. They couldn’t know. NO ONE COULD KNOW. And the fact that it did happen does not mean that the doctors were wrong or that I was over reacting or impatient. It just means that this pregnancy is a very special, unexpected gift. One that happened IN SPITE of what we had stacked against us, not because it was bound to happen anyway.

So far the people I have told have been so very excited for us. They all know how hard the past year was and how dismal our chances were. The vast majority of the people we’ve told have responded with the perfect sentiment of, “wow, I know this last year was so hard and you must be so happy and relieved right now. And I am happy and relieved for you too.” I’m so grateful that, for the most part, sharing this pregnancy has been a very positive thing.

I also know that many of the people we have still to tell we be all sing songy, I-told-you-so, and even more won’t know what we went through at all, as they quickly assume that we’re adding to our family in the same way they did (or plan to do), when the time is exactly right, not a moment sooner–or later–than what we hoped for.

I know we didn’t go through much. I know our struggle pales in comparison to pretty much everyone else’s. But it was our struggle and I feel it should be recognized in some way. I suppose I want it to be acknowledged, if only for a moment when this pregnancy is first announced. I want what we went through to mean something to the people we care about, because it meant EVERYTHING to us.

I don’t think much about the future of this pregnancy but I have wondered, here and there, how I will announce it “to the world” (ie on Facebook) if it comes to that. I know I have to acknowledge what we went through in some way, but I’m not sure exactly what I’ll say. I know I can’t force people to see this whole experience through my eyes–I could never make them understand no matter what I might do–but I also don’t want to perpetuate the myth that family building is always a walk in the park. And I want to make sure anyone else who might be struggling, knows that they are not alone.

10 responses

  1. I constantly get told that I will fall straight away with #2 because you know that always happen when people do IVF the first time. It drives me mental. It wasn’t because you relaxed its just somehow you managed to get it right. The ole I told you so makes me ready to scratch out eyes!

  2. When we decided to try for #2, everyone was like it’s just gonna happen before you know it. They all thought since I had a child, it was going to be super easy. It wasn’t. But I have learned to take things normal fertiles say with grain of salt. They don’t know. I have done some educating on how things actually work. Yes the basics are the same, sperm and egg meet up and create an embryo, but that has to happen out side of my body. It doesn’t work when they meet up in my tubes. It just doesn’t. So now I’m dreading telling people we are pregnant again, even though it was through ART again and not the old fashioned way. I can’t imagine how you handle it. Although I firmly believe the HSG opened things up to allow things to happen. So really, you did have a little help! That’ll teach ’em 😀

  3. After having Matthew, my mom and aunt asked, “doesn’t this just make it all go away?” I was very firm with my, “no, it does not. I still get upset when I think about the first IVF failure and how that made us feel,” as I teared up and choked back tears. It’s just not something that normal people will EVER understand – it just isn’t. Even those who watch us go through it think it’s erased with a new baby – but it’s never erased. And it certainly doesn’t happen because we relax. You got lucky – and thank God you did! But it’s not because your FIL was right. Hell no!

  4. The “I told you so” would drive me nuts! Perhaps even more so than people doing the same to me saying if I waited too long I’d never have kids. (Not that I really did have people say that – nor have they rubbed it in my face.)

    I’m trying to think of a strategy to deal with any “I told you so’s.” Perhaps a shrug and “you can think that if you want” and a change of subject? Because what they think doesn’t change what you think, does it?

    Wonder if anyone else has any ideas.

  5. That “I told you so” bit is so obnoxious! I think some people really struggle with hearing about others’ pain and the “I told you so” bit means they don’t have to.
    I’ve wondered about how people handle the whole facebook announcement bit as well. A friend who finally got pregnant after 1 1/2 years of trying just announced her pregnancy on fb and I was surprised that she made no mention of the long road it had taken to get there. For me it would feel important to acknowledge the difficulties–for my own sake and for readers who might have struggled themselves. I’d love to hear what you decide to say.

  6. Oh Esperanza. I’m so sorry. So happy for the news that you’re expecting (very belated congratulations, btw. That’s just awesome.), but so bummed that after such a devastating diagnosis you’re now facing the “I told you so” comments. Pamela’s recent posts and interviews get at some of the mental reasoning of the commenters, with avoidance and denial being society’s preferred way of coping with infertility. Still, it doesn’t make those comments hurt any less and I know first hand your trepidation of sharing your news because of this.

  7. I loved what you wrote about: “This amazing thing happened but they never knew it was going to happen. They couldn’t know. NO ONE COULD KNOW. And the fact that it did happen does not mean that the doctors were wrong or that I was over reacting or impatient. It just means that this pregnancy is a very special, unexpected gift.” I wonder if there would be a way that you could wrap that sentiment up in a Facebook post. I totally hear you with not knowing how to proceed. So tough to navigate this type of stuff.

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