Fertility guilt. Is that a real thing?

*infertility and pregnancy loss trigger warning. If you are/have suffered from infertility or loss I do discuss these topics, please know that I see you and my heart is with you

What I am about to say may come off as insensitive but I swear I just truly want to know, is fertility guilt a real thing? Let me back step a little and explain just exactly what I mean. I am one of the lucky women who has not had any issues getting or staying pregnant. With both of my daughters it took one time to get pregnant. (This is not meant to be a brag, but I think that it helps to understand where I am coming from.)

I found out I was pregnant with my first daughter three days after my close friend found out she was pregnant. She had been trying for a few months and we were both so excited. Then a week later she unfortunately found out that she had miscarried. I felt so incredibly guilty. Here she was praying and hoping for a little miracle, doing everything in her power to get pregnant. There I was, barely remembering to take my prenatal vitamins, with the gift so many women long for. I did not understand it why was I the lucky one? As my pregnancy went on, I could see her healing as much as a person could, continuing to try for her little baby. She continued to sit there and support me through my pregnancy, as I asked her about her different doctors appointments, and her TTC journey. She even threw me a small baby shower. Even though she never said anything I know that it killed her inside because she was supposed to be expecting her little one too. I felt like I was in uncharted territory, I was so excited to welcome my daughter, but I did not want to flaunt it in her face. I wanted to be respectful of her feelings, but what I was unintentionally hurting her with my joy?

Fast forward about two years, I found I was pregnant again with my second. That same friend had suffered another pregnancy loss. My sister had been trying for almost a year and also suffered a miscarriage. I had several other close friends that also were struggling with infertility and pregnancy loss. Those same feelings of guilt came flooding back and this time they knocked me out like a huge wave. Instead of automatically shouting from the rooftops that I was pregnant again, I hid it for a while. My husband was the only person who knew. I agonized for over a month about how I was going to look my sister and friends in the eyes, while I knew they were hurting and tell them “oh by the way I am pregnant.” I felt so guilty, I felt like a terrible sister/friend, I just felt so unhappy. There was that one small moment of happiness, but it was quickly replaced with sadness.

Again, I sat there thinking, “God why me?” I am not inherently better than these other women. They were changing their whole lives, doing everything in their power to make their wombs the best place to welcome a little one. They were taking multiple different medicines, removing certain foods from their diets, tracking ovulation to the hour, shelling out hundreds/thousands of dollars on fertility doctors. These women deserve the world and it makes NO sense to me that I get to have the ONE THING they so desperately want. “Do I even deserve to have this baby growing inside of me?” That was a constant thought that ran through my head. I told God that I would trade this baby with my sister, just to see her happy and smiling for the first time in what feels like FOREVER.

After a month of agonizing, I decided that it was time to tell close family that I was expecting again. I decided that the most respectful thing for me to do was to tell my friends and family that were struggling in private. Instead of making some big post in a group chat or on social media. I would tell them one-to-one and let them process their emotions and then eventually make that big announcement. My sister was the first person I reached out to, remembering that she had just suffered a miscarriage a month ago, I told her in the gentlest way I could think of. Her response was something along the lines of “I knew.” While I was relieved that she had suspected something, and was able to process her emotions before hand, I still knew she would need her time to process. One-by-one I told each friend privately the news, and we discussed their feelings. I asked them what I could do for them to not make them upset. Some said they were fine with me talking to them about the pregnancy and giving updates, other said that they preferred not to hear about it. And I respected their wishes.

Now that I am six months pregnant, and everyone knows the news, I still find myself struggling to navigate certain conversations with the women in my life who are continuing to struggling with their TTC journey. Since announcing my pregnancy, my sister and another close friend has suffered a chemical pregnancy. And I do not know what to say to them other than “I am sorry.” I know saying things like “at least you know you can get pregnant” and “just try not to stress out because that will make it harder” are not helpful. Many times people, like myself, are well intentioned but the things they say hurt more than help.

So I guess my question is, has anyone else felt guilty about their own fertility journey? And if you are someone who has struggled with fertility issues, what is something you wish other people knew?

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