Trying to conceive brings up a number difficult feelings and there are many situations in which many women would battle when they are trying to get pregnant, especially if they have been trying for a very long time.
Common experiences which might incite feelings of jealousy, anger, hurt and sadness for women struggling with fertility issues might be:
Listening to women complaining about how awful being pregnant is
On the one hand, having your whole body change and hormones racing around must be pretty overwhelming, morning sickness can't be fun and having a painful pelvis for months on end must be really difficult. Anxiety and fear about birth must be overwhelming too. However, for the woman who has suffered miscarriage, or is trying to get pregnant, or has had to accept that they might never be able to fall pregnant, it can be difficult to hear about how much it "sucks" to be pregnant, or how awful childbirth is, especially when it is the one thing a woman can't wait to experience, or going through IVF to get there.
Being around people who are pregnant
This can be really difficult to deal with when babies and pregnancy are all anyone talks about and it isn't happening for you. Jealousy in this context is not the same as competition; it is just really difficult to have your face rubbed in it all the time. When it comes to work environments, seeing a growing belly every day and all the baby talk can be incredibly difficult to process. Women may also feel guilt for being so resentful of their family member or co-worker.
When people say they "fell pregnant by accident"
It's difficult to hear "what a surprise" it was when you have been counting down every last minute of the two week wait to take a pregnancy test.
One thing that makes all the difference in the conception journey is to acknowledge that the feelings we feel are neither right, or wrong, they just are. Anger and frustration are part of the rollercoaster and the feelings of grief and longing are part of that too.
We don't talk about them normally, because they are raw, uncomfortable and no one wants to admit that they can't actually be gracious and joyful when a friend, colleague or family member announces they are pregnant.
Again, these feelings are not unusual, says Fertility Plus counsellor, Megan Downer. She adds that the feeling might not be that of jealousy, but rather of grief.
"One thing I would say is that grief, and that is what we are talking about, is a very unique experience. Some women say to me they find being around children helpful because they are able to express that nurturing side of themselves and it is very healing and uplifting. For other women it reminds them so much of what they want and they are not able to have at this point so that brings up that intense grief," she explains.
"There is no right or wrong way to grieve; everyone has different needs and a different response."
Megan advises that if someone is trying to conceive and is at a particularly vulnerable point and is invited to a baby shower, or a family gathering where there will be lots of children or babies, or pregnant women, it is ok to step out of those situations.
"It may be that one partner is happy to see the baby and you might be along at another point. Maybe there are situations where people feel they absolutely have to go, but then they should plan that there is an out for them, either support for when they go, or an out for them to leave earlier," Megan advises.
"I would advise anyone in this situation to be kind to themselves and not to force it. If you are feeling very vulnerable it is ok to say, look I can't do that today."
Megan says that it is totally normal response to be happy for someone, but to want it to be you.
"People's infertility journey is unique, there are themes but it is unique as well. Some people can be around women who are pregnant and have children, others do find it too difficult," she says.
Finally, it is important it is to be kind to yourself, to acknowledge the difficult feelings (even when they are really uncomfortable) and to talk about them if you need to.
It might be with your partner, a close friend, a counsellor, or in an anonymous support group. Feeling isolated in the difficult feelings is possibly the worst part of it all. If you need to chat, join one of our TTC support groups and if you need a good cry, feel good movies are a real good cathartic release.
- Essential Mums