Monday, April 30, 2012

Survivor's Guilt

And so it's out...

I posted on Facebook today to dozens of "congrats!" and, well, it feels nice.  No more hiding, no more worrying, no more coming up with explanations or telling each person privately and explaining the situation (though admittedly that was a bit fun).  It's announced and over with and is now a basic and public fact.

And I'm happy about this.  Really, I am.  I can now embrace, openly, that I'm a pregnant woman.  I mean, it won't be obvious for some time to come unless people know me.  I'm only 3 months along and this being my first pregnancy plus me being overweight already means it'll be awhile before you can really tell. But in a couple months I may actually need the maternity clothes I've already picked up.  And I'm dying to feel the baby kick!  Granted when it's happening all through the night I'll be dying in another way, but still...

So I'm happy.  I've accepted this new reality and I'm pleased with it and those around me are pleased with it and this is a good and happy thing.

And yet...

Maybe it's just particular to the infertility crowd, but oh man, the survivor's guilt.

There are several people I know (either in real life or digital, either friend of friend or acquaintance or actual friend) who are either going through IF now or have battled it extensively, far more than I.  When I first found out about the pregnancy, my mind immediately rushed to these women.  Here I was, at peace with not having a biological child, ready to move forward with foster care, already with two healthy children at home, and actually feeling a little inconvenienced by the timing of a natural, healthy pregnancy.  And then there are these women, these incredible women, who have been struggling for years and years to become parents.  Sometimes through adoption, sometimes through fertility treatments, often through both.  Some even struggling for longer than I've been a parent.

I thought about this, about the fact that I who am not currently struggling have been gifted with so much while they keep going to have even one child, even the chance of a child.  And all I could think was, "It's not fair."  It's not fair that I should have two healthy kids at home and suddenly become pregnant without injections or schedules or emptying my bank account.  It's not fair that I should be at peace with not becoming pregnant while so many would give anything for it, and here I am the one who becomes pregnant.  It's not fair that I'm younger than many of these women, just hitting my 30's in a couple months from now, and already on my way to #3.  It's not fair, because if it was going to happen to anybody, any of them, any one of these brave and resilient women, should have been blessed with this before I was.

But the universe doesn't work that way.  If the universe worked on who deserved a child more then none of these women would be struggling to start a family and there would be no children in foster care or on the streets.  It's not about fair.  It's about luck.  It's about numbers and odds and possibilities.  It's all a crap shoot.  And while I used to pity myself that I was on the "losing" end of those numbers, now I'm finding myself lucky beyond all belief. 

And guilty. 

As much as I know that my becoming pregnant does not in any way affect the chances or likelihood of anyone else becoming pregnant or adopting (or both) or going on to live a great life, or not, I still almost feel like I'm taking up more than my fair share of good luck. 

I can't help but remember when we first got our IF diagnosis, after months of negative tests and so many days spent in tears.  We were teaching Sunday School together, Nik and I, with another woman, a parent whose child was in the class.  When she told us she was expecting her third child, all I could do was stare.  No, not stare, glare.  Part of it was that I was young (23) and had not had anyone ever announce a pregnancy to me.  But another part was that I was so, so, so jealous, so angry at her (this sweet, kind woman) for becoming pregnant with her THIRD while all I wanted was just to hold my first, and I just couldn't see past the anger.  She stopped teaching Sunday School with us and I never saw her again.  I will never forget the hurt look on her face and how guilty I felt over that.  And I will never forget the anger I had against her. 

It's odd to have experienced both ends.  Not saying anyone's angry at me, but honestly I would not be surprised if there are people who are angry.  Not at me, necessarily, though I can be pretty annoying admittedly.  But at the situation, at the fact that I never did any treatments, never took any meds or went for tests, and I still became pregnant even though I was (am) "one of them".  Because, really?  It's not fair.  It's now how this sick game of struggling to build a family should work. 

I guess the reason I'm writing this is to say... I'm sorry.  I'm sorry to all of those who are still struggling.  I'm sorry that you didn't get to sing your child a lullaby tonight or help a child with homework or make an ultrasound appointment for the baby in your womb.  I'm sorry that you're surrounded by baby announcements, including my own, when you'd long to make that announcement yourself.  I'm sorry that life isn't fair, that others have what you should rightfully have, and that you have to struggle where others do not.  And I'm hopeful.  I'm hopeful that all of you who struggle, no matter where you are right now, will one day be on the other end of this.  This end.  With children and a life full of noise and activity and love.  With a feeling of contentment and peace, set in the belief that despite all the pain, had life happened any other way you would be missing out on something incredible.

As for me... I think I'm just going to have to accept that survivor's guilt is just a part of my journey.  It's held me back a bit from wanting to tell people, but now it's out there for all to see and I'm honestly happy to share the news, especially after a very long couple months of worrying non-stop about whether this little surprise would stick around or not. 

Time to move forward with hope.  Hope that this little one will be born healthy and safe.  Hope that great news is just around the corner for all who are waiting.  Hope that we will all have our happily ever after :)

Sunday, April 29, 2012


So this has been "Announcing" week.

I had already told my parents, most of the people at the preschool, a few friends, and P's teacher.

On Monday I spoke openly about it at the preschool, thus informing a few other friends/parents, after my appointment.  Unfortunately Nik couldn't make it because of the handyman being at home, but hearing the heartbeat was truly magical.

On Tuesday we told the kids.  I had bought 3 gifts at the birth center's boutique.  We took them for dinner at the Ethiopian restaurant and after we ate I gave P his gift (a stencil set), A his gift (a wooden robot doll), and pulled out a small stuffed strawberry with a sleeping baby head popping out the top.  I asked P who it was for, and after he guessed himself he rightly guessed it was for a new baby.  I asked where he thought our new baby was, and said, "I don't know, Germany?"  After I informed him that was incorrect, he guessed, "Florida?"  I laughed and leaned over, whispering in his ear "In my belly!"  He jumped back screaming, "ARE YOU SURE???"  Haha, silly boy!  He was so excited :)  And still is!  He's telling everyone he can, including friends, their parents, and neighbors.  When we drove home that night he asked me lots of questions all the way home :)

On Wednesday I believe I only told one other preschool parent.

On Thursday, my mother, A and I met my grandparents for lunch.  My grandmother was so excited when I told her!  She wants to throw a shower, but we'll see how that goes.  We didn't have a shower for A so immediately I felt a bit off about it, but I realize that this time we have a lot more warning and guarantee.  Maybe we can do a pregnancy shower?  Where everyone buys me pretty and comfortable maternity clothes?  And nice lotions and lots of high end granola bars?  Mmmm, a girl can dream :)  I also reached my sister that afternoon and got to tell her.  I'm so happy about that!  I was worried I wouldn't be able to reach her and she'd find out via Facebook or family gossip.

On Friday... yeesh, what happened Friday?  Oh yeah, PTA breakfast where I helped set up and serve, then picked up Ambrose and had him "help" clean up :)  By eating as much food as he could weasel out of people!  Everyone at the PTA already knew since I told them about it and how that's the reason I won't be a chair again next year.

On Saturday we had a wonderful morning, just P and I, at a book reading from Audrey Penn, author of The Kissing Hand.  She's just wonderful in person!  Wish I'd gotten to speak to her, I could have but missed my chance and I'm still kicking myself for it!  Why must I lock up sometimes?  That afternoon was a birthday party and that was such great fun.  A ate so many cheese balls I'm surprised he didn't make himself sick!

Today is Sunday, and I announced at church.  I got applause.  I guess people need happy news sometimes.

Tomorrow is Monday and I'll be putting it on Facebook, the final "coming out" so to speak.  Then I guess I can make my blog public again.  We're past the secrecy and "are we sure?" phase, and into the hopeful and expectant phase.  Things may still go wrong, even horribly so, but there comes a point where you just have to believe and enjoy the precious gift presented to you. 

So much to do this week, so many calls to make, emails and letters to write, a garden to plant, a house to clean, deep cleaning to start on.... So much to get done in such a short time period!  But I'm hopeful.  Here's hoping my nesting instinct kicks in full force!  It was killer with the boys, got soooo much done when it kicked in, but not quite feeling it yet.  Might need to look at cute pictures of little babies in the morning, get my nesting juices flowing, then clean like crazy!  That ought to get my closets organized!  :)

Monday, April 23, 2012


Today I am 13 weeks, 1 day. I had my second midwife appointment, which went great. Just me as Nik was home with a handyman and the kids were in their respective classes.

And I heard the heartbeat :)

It took awhile, the babe kept wiggling away as soon as we heard a beat or two. The midwife, Allison, said that tends to happen with boys so that's one point in the "blue" corner :) When we finally got a steady beat it was faint, as the baby was hiding out in the back, but it was clear and fast. In the 150's she said. I've been close to tears all day just thinking about it. It was too faint to really get on my phone, but with the room perfectly quiet we could both hear clearly. Apparently his/her little heart is only about the size of half my pinky nail at the moment, and being hidden way at the back in a tilted uterus behind my own extra "fluff" wasn't conducive to a very strong, loud, can share over the phone kind of heart beat. But it's in there. There's really a living baby in there :)

So we're not really hiding the news anymore. Still trying to determine when to tell P, really wish I could hold out until the end of school but I'll be 20 weeks then (fingers crossed!) and others will know. I don't want him to hear it from someone else... so probably tomorrow night when we're both home. I'm sure we'll get a mix of emotions from it.

As for A, two of his preschool buddies just became big siblings so I can imagine he'll be really excited about this. I'm kind of excited to see how this plays out for him. He's going to be a big brother!

I'm actually having a bit of fun telling people, and I'm surprised by how many people are excited to know. I guess I just don't seem like the pregnant type since I'm apparently blowing people away, haha!

So it's on to telling and planning and just trying to eat well and take care of myself and my family and enjoy this time that I never thought I'd have. Because really, even if someone truly awful happens that won't erase this moment, this time, of happiness and expectation and I shouldn't let it.

Sooo... it's on to the nesting I suppose :)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

11 weeks, 6 days

And sooooooo tired!

Stopped feeling the morning sickness early this week, which was nice, but the exhaustion is still here. I think I may be anemic again :-P About to look up some iron boosts I can add, might go grab some walnuts.

So far so good. Made it through our trip to Disney just fine, though had to take frequent rests. I did see blood one day, April Fool's Day (that wasn't lost on me) but it was a very small amount not accompanied by anything else and I haven't seen any since.

When I have a full bladder I can actually feel a hardness in my lower abdomen, under all the extra squish (mmmmm, girlscout cookies!).

Oh, and I'm meeting with a nutritionist next week, and watching my diet. So no more girlscout cookies :( They're worried I may develop gestational diabetes, given my blood results (blood sugar showed fluctuations), my family history, and my own history with food/exercise. So I'm eating better/fresher and skipping sweets, though not fruit cuz fruit's soooo yummy :)

I've told just about everyone at A's preschool now, mostly because I was so sick I was afraid they'd think I had the flu or something and ask me not to come in with A. A few of my friends know and a couple people at church too. I'm almost to the point of just announcing it outright.

Buuuuut... and here's the kicker....

I didn't do a huge announcement on the boys' adoptions until the end of our journeys, when we had been matched and were mere weeks from having them in our arms. People were excited for us, but not in the way people get excited about announcing a pregnancy. My parents, who adore my children, are just *dying* to tell everyone.... but this seems so different than when we were adopting and it was an exciting period but more of a matter-of-fact, might work out might not kind of thing. People we've told are just thrilled, squealing with excitement. And the thing is, many of the people I'm telling now in person are people who found out about our adoptions either through a big announcement to all, through the grapevine, or just seeing it on Facebook or something. So I can't really compare...

I guess I'm just really, really worried that people will see this baby as "more than" our boys. More wanted, more loved, more valuable. The dream come true after two adoptions. And more than anything I'm worried that my boys will see it that way...

It's so complicated!

For me this is a whole new journey, one I'd been convinced I'd never get to take. I'm excited in a different way because I'm excited about the changes in my body and feeling a new life growing in me, but when it comes to the child I'm equally as excited as I was when it came to our boys. Guarded, anxious, nervous, in love, worried, daydreaming, hopeful, etc. And I know that for many people this pregnancy isn't about me "finally" have that birth child we'd set out to have, but me going through a journey that so many women have gone through, and can relate to.

I have some very complicated thoughts on all of this, and how I'll need to present it to the boys not just when we tell them but in the years to come. I don't want them to ever doubt our love for them. Likewise, I don't want to treat this baby poorly in an attempt to prove that s/he's no more important than our sons. I guess I'll just have to take the cues from our boys, especially P, whenever we do tell them.

On that note, Tuesday after next I'll be 13 weeks, 2 days (fingers crossed!) and going in for my next prenatal appt. Perhaps I'll finally hear the babe's heartbeat.... One can hope!