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 :)

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Yay! I am so glad you are back to public blogging. I have missed you. I know what you mean about survivors guilt. You are one step ahead of the rest of the world b/c you are thinking of others and being sensitive. I am so happy for your news!