Pregnancy Announcements Still Sting

I remember the first time I cried after finding out about another woman's pregnancy. She was actually a dear friend of mine and she and her husband had just called to tell us that they were pregnant with their second child. Alex and I were sitting on the floor of our living room by the fireplace and while we were on the phone, we were exuberant and excited.
But as soon as we hung up, I crouched over and began sobbing in Alex's lap.
He didn't say anything- what was there to say? Instead, he just held me and that was everything I needed in that moment and more.
This was the first time that I felt like we were "falling behind" and it hurt more than I could've ever imagined. It's hard to see others getting pregnant and moving on with the family of their dreams while you remain stagnant and in one place.
Finding out that they were moving on to baby number two reminded us that we were still struggling with baby number one. And after that day, it felt like someone opened the flood gates for pregnancy announcements- or maybe I just became wildly more aware of them- because it was the only thing I would see when I opened social media.
I watched as woman after woman from my high school shared their news. I watched as they documented their pregnancy milestones. I watched as they gave birth to their babies. And I watched as their babies grew from newborn to infant to toddlers.
I watched as women that I met through social media transitioned from the IUI two-week-wait into pregnancy while I was catapulted back to infertile-ville and told to "try again." I see these same women today with their family and toddlers and it still stings.
I felt like I was watching the world through a bubble. A bubble that I wasn't allowed to enter. Instead, we had to sit and watch as (what felt like) everyone we knew proceeded to have children while we could not. We were forced to face our demons of- control, stability, independence, and pride.
It became my own personal purgatory.
During infertility, seeing pregnancy announcements just plain sucks.
There's no better way to describe it.
Why is it that when you're struggling to get pregnant, your senses are immediately heightened to be aware of every pregnant woman within a fifty mile radius? It's like a habit that you can't kick or get over. It's all you see and it's all the time.
At the grocery- pregnant woman.
At Target- pregnant woman.
At your favorite restaurant- pregnant woman.
At the park- pregnant woman.
At the stoplight- pregnant woman.
At church, nonetheless,- pregnant woman. And you better believe she's going to sit right in front of you, too. Because that's just how it goes.
And really, it starts to feel like the world is playing a sick joke on you. Constantly rubbing it in your face that everyone else is pregnant, but you.
I lived in this torturous rut for three years and it was really hard to pretend like it didn't bother me. It was hard and challenging to find ways to rise above the jealousy and to remember that it was "their journey" and "not mine." But after awhile, even that same old cliche doesn't work and you're just left still feeling crummy and alone.
I can't even begin to tell you how many times I had to walk out of a church service or swerve to a different aisle in the store to altogether avoid the pregnant woman. Some days, it was just a simple way to guard my heart and to not let it get to me. Other days, it would trigger something inside of me and I would immediately just break down.
Let's talk about family and friend pregnancy announcments. Because you KNOW that stings and the worst part- you're just as much happy as you are jealous. You've got one foot in and one foot out the door. You want to be happy. You really, really do. But to watch that belly grow and to have all of the pregnancy talk when you're battling your personal infertility is just exhausting and honestly, it screws with your mind in a whole new way.
For me, I began to cope with family and friend announcements by completely distancing myself from the situation and RSVP-ing with a big ole' fat NO to gender reveals or baby showers because my heart simply couldn't take it.
And now that I've gone down this rabbit hole, I see that I have quite a bit to say on that forefront and to spare you your afternoon, I'll just write that up as another upcoming episode of Spill the Tea.
Back to what I was saying...eventually, it was just a given. I would see a pregnancy announcement and it would sting. It became a trigger of mine, meaning that I would shut down for a few hours. I wouldn't talk or say much and honestly, it just put me in a sour mood. Especially when I evaluated where we were in our current journey. For whatever reason, I feel like I always saw more pregnancy announcements on the hardest days of our journey- like a test day or the morning of an IUI.
To which, I just began to ignore social media on those days altogether for that exact reason. Don't allow yourself to be triggered if you don't have to, ya know what I mean? Otherwise, I would log on and just hit "unfollow" or "block" to every person that came up on my feed. And honestly, I didn't want to do that! I didn't want to silence the celebrations of others because of my own personal standing. I didn't know their journey and I didn't have to in order to have compassion and a sense of joy for them. Babies are a miracle. An absolute freaking miracle.
And I hated that in my pain, I silenced the celebration of God's miracles.
I hated it because I wanted a miracle of my own. I wanted God to grant us a miracle and I didn't understand why He wouldn't or didn't want to. Little did I know, God was working on our miracle, but He just needed time to make it specifically tailored to us and our journey.
Nonetheless, when we were stagnant. We felt it and we felt it hard. Month after month and year after year, it just became glaringly obvious: we were standing still.
Ya know, during infertility, it made sense.
Pregnancy announcements were a trigger for me because I was seeing others receive what I so desperately wanted and it didn't make sense why it wasn't happening for me.
I get it.
But what I didn't expect was that pregnancy announcements would still be a trigger for me during my own pregnancy and also now that we've had Aspen.
If you've followed our story and have read my previous blog posts, then you'll know that my pregnancy had a rocky beginning. I was suffering from infertility PTSD and was struggling to accept a new life of positivity.
And yet again it seemed, as soon as we were pregnant- my sense to pregnancies and announcements heightened even more.
When I saw the first pregnancy announcement while I was actually pregnant, it rubbed me in some weird way. Immediately upon seeing it, I felt the joy of our pregnancy all over again and I was so incredibly happy that someone else was able to experience that same joy and happiness. But then those same old feelings crept in and I didn't understand why.
The same thing happened after Aspen was finally earthside, too. Except my excitement was elevated and lasted longer before those feelings began to creep in.
Why was I feeling sad and upset? We were pregnant. What was the hesitation?
I read through each pregnancy announcement caption that I saw. Hoping that written in between the lines would be some magical message written just for me to explain why I was feeling this way.
Well, I never found that hidden message. But I did start to somewhat understand my experience.
What I came to find was that my sadness was coming from a place of grief.
Even though we have a child, pregnancy announcements still sting because they're a reminder of the fact that we are still the 1 in 8. When it comes time to discuss baby number two, it's not a night of candlelit dinners and roses that we need to plan. No, our first course of action needs to be a phone call to our fertility clinic.
We have Aspen and do NOT mistake me for a single mili-second. I am and forever will be eternally grateful to have him. If anything, having him makes me want more children! If this is what it's like to have children, then I would love to continue to pursue my dream of having a large family.
And please don't come at me with the excuse of- "be happy with the child you have" or "at least you have a baby." If fertile people are able to build their family without criticism or question then so can we. Infertility does not, I repeat- IT DOES NOT, mean that we have been given a pass for only one child. It's not a "try until you get one and then be grateful for the one you have because that's all you get" kinda deal.
Infertility may make it more challenging for us to have children, but it does not rob us of the experience to have a large family.
So, I guess the realization that essentially any type of family planning is done through the lens of a fertility clinic just makes me sad sometimes. It makes me sad to know that when we want to discuss having another child, we must make sure that we are financially able to proceed with another embryo transfer because that procedure ain't cheap. And even that being said, are we emotionally ready to hop back on the IVF train of medications, appointments, and rollercoaster emotions?
I have fully grasped and come to terms with this being our reality. I accept that we are the 1 in 8. I accept our infertility. I accept that it's unexplained. And I accept the fact that we may never know what it's like to naturally conceive a child without assistance.
I accept every single bit of that.
But hear me out- I can accept all of that while still simultaneously having moments of grief. Grief is a funny and weird thing. Its borders are not definite, nor are they permanent. Grief pops up in the weirdest of ways and at random times. Having a baby does mean that I am no longer entitled to grieve our journey of infertility because, truth is, our journey isn't over.
I guess what's really important about it is how you handle that grief. When I see pregnancy announcements now, they don't trigger me nearly as much as they used to. Instead of breaking down, it comes as a soft wave- kind of like a sigh. Some days it effects me, some days it doesn't.
Every single day, I am getting better. Now that I know why I feel the way that I do, I can handle these moments with a lot more understanding and grace than I could before.
I'm not saying I have it all figured out. Remember in the beginning of this post? I told you that real quick. All I'm saying is that I've been able to identify what the heck I feel and why I feel it and I can just about guarantee you that I'm not alone.
I know that pregnancy announcements are laced with A LOT of emotions for several different types of communities. They are not just specifically associated with overwhelming joy.
This is our story. These are my personal feelings and I share them with you today because I never want you to feel alone or in the dark. I remember feeling so guilty for being triggered by a pregnancy announcement. I felt like there was something seriously wrong with me since I couldn't just be happy for other people. And now that I have Aspen, I felt so incredibly selfish when I realized those feelings wouldn't quit.
But what I've come to find is that I'm not a horrible or selfish person for feeling this way and neither are you. Naturally, it's going to hurt to see others receive what you so desperately want. Especially when it's something so pure and innocent as a baby.
Just remember- at the end of the day, it's up to you to figure out how you feel and why you feel this way. Once you've done that, you can start to process through it and figure out the best way for you to heal. Which, is another thing I want to quickly address. Your healing is YOUR healing. If that means that you block, mute, or unfollow social media accounts- DO IT. If your healing is to RSVP "no" to a friend's gender reveal- DO IT. In a sensitive time like this, you have to do what you can to guard your heart and to allow yourself to heal instead of continuing to pour salt on an open wound.
And I just want to end by saying this- if pregnancy announcements are a trigger for you, I'm with you. If you have a child and they still sting, I'm with you.
You are not alone.
Infertility can be so isolating. You can see plenty of parts in my own story where I felt isolated or felt the need to isolate myself because others wouldn't understand. I understand that feeling and I would never want you to feel that way. I open my heart to you because I want you to know that no matter what part of your journey you're on and even if it's totally different from ours, I'm still here for you 10000%.