Adventures in making and raising our test-tube babies

Friday, September 5, 2008

Blessings and Survivors' Guilt

I saw a made-for-TV movie about two people who survived a fatal airplane crash. The guy sitting next to one of them was vaporized. The person the other had traded seats with didn't make it.Though they walked away unscathed, their lives disintegrated because they felt so guilty, so unworthy to have made it out.

DailyStrength.org, the online support group that provided me a community of infertile friends to compare and commiserate with, made a new sub-group this year called "Pregnancy after Infertility or Loss." That was to shield the still-tryings from the conversations of the newly-pregnant infertility-busters. It was also an acknowledgement that pregnancy after what we've gone through is different than just regular pregnancy.

We have our own set of issues.

The most notable, which I've felt and which I've seen over and over on Daily Strength, is survivors' guilt. Achievers' guilt. Those of us who finally succeed in getting pregnant are left a little bereft. Our dreams have come true. We've crossed that second pink line. We get to move on to experiences and annoyances that were off-limits to us before. We're going to have BABIES!

And we've become the people that used to make us feel so sad.

We have left our friends behind. We have put them in the position that we used to be in: happy for the newly-pregnant, but devastatingly sad for themselves. It's hard to be around friends who make you cry. It's hard to be reminded that other people get what you want. I know that a lot of people have been pulling for James and me, and by golly, they're ecstatic. So shouldn't we be? Don't we owe it to our still-trying friends to at least enjoy the tremendous luck that we've got?

So don't get me wrong: I'm awfully damned happy. I'm so happy I can't even fathom it. How did such monumental pain just seem to work out in the end? How did I wind up pregnant with twins -- the absolutely most wonderful outcome I could ever have not-dared to wish for? Why does it seem so easy, so meant-to-be now, when it was so, so hard for so, so long?

As my mom said when I told her it freaked me out to feel some foreign object in my abdomen whenever I crossed my legs, "Don't overthink it." I know the same applies here. But remember the 65 postings I wrote before this week. Why stop the overthinking now?

The purpose of this blog, as I recall, was to let my world know about what I was going through, what a big thing infertility is. It was to share the interesting ups and downs of invitro fertilization treatments. And it provided me a forum to get my thoughts down and make sense of them outside of my head.

I don't pretend that we're in the clear now. Lots of things could still go wrong, but in our fifteenth week, the odds are that we'll come home with healthy babies next Spring. In the spirit of playing the odds and erring on the side of hopefulness, we're not going to be talking about infertility for a while, if ever again.

So what's the blog for now?

You don't want to hear about the uncensored ravages of pregnancy, although I'll be happy to tell anyone the gruesome changes a body goes through, if they ask. You may or may not be amused by all my vomiting stories. You might not find it all that fascinating to read "Today I watched some more TV and then had a glass of milk."

Well, tough. This blog's educational outreach function may be done, but I like writing. And I've always thought that the details of my life ought to be of utmost interest to strangers and friends alike. So the "chronicle of the journey towards the light at the end of the birth canal" continues. But to keep things in perspective, to allay some of my survivors' guilt, I plan to frame the adventures in terms of blessings.

Never let it be said that I don't feel lucky to throw up in public. And never let it be said that I don't wish the same thing for my still-trying friends, from the bottom of my heart and stomach. I do. More than anything.

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