Infertility itself could be considered to fall into this category.. maybe not that we're not SUPPOSED to talk about it, maybe more that it's an awkward topic, something that people don't really want to think about unless they have to. I'm sure that anyone who's undergoing fertility treatment has endured the experience of telling a friend, colleague or family member about their situation, hoping for support, understanding and empathy... only to be faced with stricken looks, muttering of platitudes and awkward hand-wringing.. and that's a best-case scenario!
But that's not what this post is really about. It's about the feelings that I've been experiencing during this process. Feelings that I feel guilty about, that make me feel like an evil, selfish, uncaring person. These feelings revolve around pregnancies - other people's, not mine, obviously! I started the process of TTC so optimistically, presuming that, once off the pill, I'd get pregnant fairly quickly - at least within a year or so. Which is exactly how it should happen and how it does for over 85% of couples (95% get pregnant within 2 years). Which is great, right? Of course it is.. if you're one of those couples. And if you're not?..
Well, I made plans that fitted around our TTC 'schedule'. We moved to China 9 months after our wedding and had 10 more months before our insurance would cover maternity - so we waited. I got a job and started work, presuming that my 1 year contract would be the last I'd sign for a while. My boss had just had a baby so he was overflowing with stories about the little one - it was so exciting! I pictured my bloke in those shoes and couldn't wait!
After 9 months we started TTC. I joined a yoga studio, but thought it wise not to go to Hot Yoga, just in case I got pregnant. I gave up alcohol (well, cut down a lot at least!). And we waited (a theme of today if you saw my earlier post!). I signed another work contract and then another. My boss's wife got pregnant for a second time and they had another baby. And I started dreading the emails from friends back home, the Facebook postings, the phone calls...
Because, and this is what people don't talk about, I don't want to know. I don't want to hear about other people's pregnancies. I don't want to see those pictures of tiny babies in babygros and little hats, sandwiched between grinning, over the moon parents and grandparents. I don't want to hear from friends passing on their news of a 2nd baby, all in the time that we've been TTC.
Of course, I don't let it show. Luckily, most of the news comes via the computer. So I can read, cry and then write a suitably congratulatory email. After a while, my bloke would come home, see my face and know I'd received more 'good' news. And with every sick to the stomach feeling of jealousy, I feel bad.. guilty.. ashamed that I can't be happy for my friends.. happy that they don't have to go through what we're going through. 'Misery loves company' as the saying goes and it's true. I feel relieved when I hear that other people are struggling, that it's taking a long time, that they might need treatment.
I hope that all this doesn't mean I'm a bad person, a sick person. I hope that I just need people to understand what I'm going through, to really understand and not just offer those platitudes that do little to help. I hope that it means that I just don't want to be alone in all this. Because alone is so often how I feel. Rationally, I wouldn't wish this experience on anyone. I want to know that my friends are happy, that they've got the families they dream of and plan for. And I do experience happiness for friends as they announce their happy events, particularly those who have undergone fertility treatment. But that sick feeling and nagging voice 'why can't that be me?' never quite go away. Or, at least, they haven't yet.