Survivor’s Guilt

This is a difficult post to write. But it needs to be written.

Since discovering our great news at the start of September, I’ve experienced a mixture of feelings – joy, happiness, disbelief, fear, excitement, anxiety, contentment… and guilt.

Guilt that it happened to me before others – both those that I knew personally who were in the same shoes as me, and those I knew in the virtual community.

On some strange level, I didn’t feel I had ‘suffered’ enough compared to others. I hadn’t earned my stripes as much as someone else.

It’s all bollocks of course. And I soon gave my head a wobble.

What I was feeling wasn’t guilt, but compassion and empathy. I realise that now.

I wanted – and still do – others to experience the same joy that we had been blessed with. I wanted every woman who was desperate for a baby to be granted one (or however many they wanted!) Because when you see that BFP – that sticky BFP – it immediately makes all the prior heartache worth it to get to that point. And if I was lucky enough to experience that, I desperately wanted everybody else to be lucky enough too.

And that’s exactly what we were – lucky. Lucky to conceive when – and how – we did. I realise how lucky I am. I don’t need it pointing out to me. Everyday I wake up grateful to still be pregnant. I cherish every single time Dave puts his hands on my stomach and kisses Cub – no matter how cold his hands are I will never swat them away!

I never take it for granted how fortunate we are. Every single time of every single day that I go to the toilet, I check my underwear for blood. I don’t think I will ever stop doing that.

Okay, we didn’t have medical intervention to help us get pregnant. We didn’t take medication. We didn’t do IUI, ICSI or IVF. We didn’t need donor eggs or sperm. We didn’t have to spend any money or use insurance to cover infertility. We didn’t experience any miscarriages (although our chemical pregnancy still broke our hearts in a way that will never be repaired). And I can’t imagine how tough those challenges are for the people going through them every day.

But the struggle was still real. Not going through what I’ve described above doesn’t mean we didn’t suffer for 20 months too. It doesn’t invalidate or negate our experience. 

Our hearts still broke at the arrival of my period.

We still shed the same tears after seeing a pregnancy announcement, that another couple would have shed.

Infertility is not a competition of who has suffered the most. Everybody’s journey is unique and cannot be compared. We should celebrate every woman’s pregnancy no matter how they got there.

I will never forget how difficult I found it when people we knew got pregnant. I will always understand those difficult feelings and emotions. It will never leave you.

I will never forget what we endured to get to this point either. I still find myself saying to people “but it took us nearly 2 years” immediately after I’ve told them we’re pregnant, like I have to add it by way of explanation, just in case they were to assume it was easy for us. I’ve never hidden how difficult it has been. And I will never stop doing that. Because I hope it helps others to know that they are not alone.

This weekend, 2 people who I know (but not very well) told me how long it took them to fall pregnant, all because I was honest with them first. It is more common than I realised. They described themselves as infertile too, but didn’t have medical intervention. They just kept going and didn’t give up.

And that’s what I have in common with every other woman who is currently trying to conceive, even though we fell pregnant “naturally” as opposed to “medically”. We kept going and never gave up.

And that’s what I will continue saying to other women:

KEEP GOING. AND NEVER GIVE UP.

And Cub, I will NEVER feel guilty for conceiving you when we did. You came to us at the perfect time.


5 thoughts on “Survivor’s Guilt

  1. Compassion and empathy go a long way! Infertility is something that I wouldn’t wish on anyone! It may have taken you (only) 2 years and hubs and I have been trying for 6 (2 chemicals and a miscarriage) but it doesn’t make your struggle or mine any easier or harder than the others. It’s a struggle no matter what!
    I remember reading your first post that you were pregnant. I was in the passenger seat of hubs car on the way home from the grocery store. I remember being so happy for you (and a bit sad for me) but what I remember most is crying happy tears because someone else’s struggle to become a momma was over and that’s what it’s about! We are all bound as sisters in our struggle and when one of us wins it is celebrated by all of us. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I also didn’t struggle for long. It was just long enough to make me worry and fret and then it happened. But I think that same feeling of guilt or compassion or empathy that we feel is the EXACT reason that I am now a surrogate. My heart breaks for the women out there that can not conceive on their own and it breaks in a whole different way for the women that are forced to use surrogates to grow their families.
    Enjoy your pregnancy but never let that empathy go. There are so many women (and ultimately many men) out there that need it.
    Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. First of all, a chemical pregnancy IS a miscarriage… admittedly a very early miscarriage, but you were pregnant before, however short that time may have been I would never wish a chemical pregnancy on anyone, I can only imagine how heartbreaking it must be to see a positive pregnancy test followed by a period (although I have to confess I have occasionally thought that at least if I had experienced a chemical pregnancy I would know I am physically capable of getting pregnant. For me, the not knowing is the absolute WORST. I feel like if I knew what is stopping me from conceiving I would at least have a chance to try and fix it, instead of just taking all the supplements and hoping one of them will do something).

    Secondly, it may have “only” taken you two years (and no intervention)… but 2 years is still a bloody long time. I was devastated when I got my period on the exact day that we had been trying for 2 years. Knowing that other people have been trying for even longer does not make the struggle any less real. You 100% deserve this baby just as much as anyone who has been trying for 6 years, has had several miscarriages, etc. And your empathy and compassion are exactly why I could never resent you getting pregnant before me. (And believe me, I know somebody who has had a miscarriage and keeps going on about her “rainbow baby” who I feel ZERO compassion for because when she’s not reminding everyone that she had a miscarriage in between her two girls she’s complaining NON-STOP about her kids. If you hate them that much I’ll have them!!! Grrrr!! Err… sorry for the rant).

    Liked by 1 person

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