It's been a while since I took the time to write a new blog and today I wanted to talk about something I like to call "infertility guilt." When you spend so much time and money trying to start or grow your family, so much so that it becomes part of your identity, it feels like once you have success and actually get pregnant that you aren't allowed to complain...then when you do complain, it's accompanied by this never ending guilt.
Infertility is hard. But that doesn't mean that pregnancy isn't also hard despite going through the trials of infertility to get there. All of it is hard, it's just different kinds of hard. The hardest part about infertility was all the unknowns, all of the waiting, and seeing a negative test month after month. The cost, injections, hormonal swings, and constant appointments were definitely added stressors but not nearly as bad as the former. It very often feels like whenever we complain about something pregnancy related that we are being judged by those who have seen our struggles with infertility and don't understand how we aren't just rainbows and butterflies for the entirety of our pregnancy. This is what we wanted wasn't it?
To be fair, I think most of this perceived judgement isn't actually happening and is just all made up in my head (for me anyway) but the guilt there is still very real. Yes, I absolutely wanted this. I didn't spend thousands of dollars, 3 years of my life and endure emotional hell for no reason. This is what I've wanted for most of my life...and even though I do sometimes complain about my back hurting, or about having to pee all the time, or even when I say that I'm ready to not be pregnant and finally meet my little miracle, it doesn't mean that I am not endlessly grateful to be experiencing all of that. I treasure every single symptom and every small change my body is making to create this little person that is forever going to change my life. But it still sucks sometimes. And it's still hard sometimes.
Pregnancy is hard. And honestly, I think I've had a pretty easy pregnancy so far all things considered and I am very thankful for that. I didn't experience severe morning sickness, I didn't suffer from SPD or have any scares. I have been low risk my entire pregnancy. But yeah...I've still been dealing with pain in my back, hips, groin, and chest that make it very difficult to feel useful and productive. I've still been dealing with trouble sleeping, discomfort, unrelenting heartburn no matter what I eat, and I have to sit down for 15 minutes after simple tasks like bringing a laundry basket downstairs to regulate my breathing and heart rate. I wouldn't change it for the world, but I am allowed to complain sometimes and I need to convince myself that that is okay.
Same thing goes for my future in parenting. I know one thing that many people in the infertility community struggled with at the beginning of the pandemic was seeing parents complain online about having to be home with their children all the time when schools were sent online. I completely empathize with that because it is hard seeing someone complain about something you have always wanted. But at the same time, I understand that parenting is also hard and parents are going through their own set of trials and stressors that they should be allowed to talk about openly. Parents complaining or venting about their struggles with raising children does not mean they regret having kids, or in the case of those that struggled with infertility, doesn't mean they regret all of the time and money spent to bring them into the world. It's just a different kind of hard.
So to anyone that may be experiencing this infertility guilt, whether you are pregnant or are figuring out how to be a parent for the first time...look in the mirror and repeat this:
I am grateful for what I have and would never wish it away, but sometimes it is hard. It's okay to have bad days. It's okay to struggle and it's okay to talk about those bad days and struggles. We are all human.