Making Friends With the Green Eyed Monster

October 8, 2010

Dealing with feelings of jealousy was hard for me at first. Those feelings were new and felt alien to me. They felt wrong and I was ashamed of them. But the fact is that jealousy is an inherent part of going through infertility. As soon as I accepted that and learned to embrace my jealous feelings (as opposed to denying their existence) I felt better. It took some time to reconcile these feelings as being part of who I am. I’ve never thought of myself as a jealous person before. But when it comes to IF… there’s no getting around it. We are both happy for and jealous of those around us who succeed in their infertility journey. And the two emotions are NOT mutually exclusive. And it doesn’t make you a bad person.

I know I felt guilty during those few short weeks when I was pregnant. I think it must be similar to “survivor’s guilt.” You don’t want to alienate those around you who have been so supportive but are now left in the dust. It’s a tough path to navigate. Knowing that others are feeling jealous of you and not wanting to rub salt in that wound makes you tread lightly and definitely dampens your excitement.

But.

Because we all feel this jealousy we understand it and can be open and honest about it. This point was really driven home to me when I was in the hospital. A coworker came to visit me. She knew about my struggles because she had gone through it herself (not ectopic pregnancy but infertility). She finally got her son with IVF #4. When she came to see me she admitted, very unabashedly, that she had felt jealousy when I told her IVF #1 had worked for me. She already has her baby (although she tried for another with IVF #5 and failed). But her very first reaction was to feel jealous that mine had worked on the first try and hers hadn’t.

At first I was a little taken aback by her very matter-of-fact confession. She didn’t apologize for feeling that way or seem to feel badly about it at all. But then I realized that if we can’t be open and honest with one another then we’re not doing it right. We all experience these emotions so we know that other IFers will understand them. So let’s just be open about it.

Did I feel guilty when I was pregnant? Absolutely.
Was that normal? Probably.
Did I let it overwhelm me? Not really. I managed a few moments of pure excitement in between the guilt and the fear (that something would go wrong).

Do I now feel jealous of those who are still pregnant? Absolutely.
Do I also feel genuinely happy for them? 100%

Even if I get my baby will I continue to identify more with infertiles than fertiles? Most definitely. If my coworker could still feel jealous of me even after having her baby (who is now 2 or 3 yo) then we are all in this together forever. Some will succeed and some will not. But we will be forever bonded by the experience.

[for @Kat_Cushner – wishing her a happy, healthy and guilt-free pregnancy from the bottom of my heart]

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5 Responses to “Making Friends With the Green Eyed Monster”

  1. Jay Brownlee Says:

    I have never experienced IF but ill health meant for many years I could not start a family (I was in and out of psychiatric in-patient wards, it would not have been good) and so I know what you mean about being jealous, I was so jealous of all my friends as they had their families. Slowly but surely I went through that journey you talk about of admitting that feeling was okay, was normal and was acceptable. I am pregnant now, and I do have those same feelings about not wanting to alienate people and when my bundle arrives I think that will be even worse.

    I really wish every good fortune on your journey to parenthood, I am sorry I have beaten you there because I know how many people I was so jealous of on my journey here and how horrible that made me feel.

  2. Turtle Says:

    Amazing post. 100% true. I too realized that, pregnancy or no pregnancy, I will not be able to relate to most fertiles. In my mind the issues that have caused my infertility will be with me for a long while, because they will affect my health for the rest of my life.

    When I find out a friend is pregnant I sulk. I extend my congratulations, and I mean them with my whole heart, but then I go home and cry– for me.

  3. Allie Says:

    Great post! I just started following you on twitter and I so very sorry for everything you are going through right now. I am also struggling with low AMH and stage 3 endo. Our first try with IVF was canceled, due to poor response. I saw your tweet about the protocol that worked for you and would love to ask you a few questions if you don’t mind.

  4. Courtney Says:

    I so could not have said this any better myself. Thank you for posting this.

    *hugs*

  5. Jen Says:

    Great post! For me, the walls that I’ve built to protect myself are so thick. And, it’s still so hard to separate my pain about my IF from their success/joy. DH is much better at it than me. I completely agree about being an “infertile for life” – I just can’t relate to those who haven’t gone through this, and they can’t relate to me. It’s a harsh line that’s been drawn.


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