Monday, April 14, 2014

Pregnancy Guilt & Infertility

This weekend marked a big milestone in our pregnancy.
We hit the third trimester and if my incompetent cervix decided to give out right now, baby has a 95% chance of survival.
Lord knows we are not through with this pregnancy yet, but God willing, we are in the final stretches and the thought of having a baby in our arms is quickly becoming more of a reality! 

And now that we are closing in on the end of our pregnancy and the beginning of parenthood, I felt compelled to write about my pregnancy guilt.

As some of you I know, Matt and I struggled with infertility.  Surprisingly, my infertility had nothing to do with my cervical cancer.  On top of having 80% of my cervix removed, I had other issues... Go figure.  My body does not naturally produce enough progesterone to let my eggs mature long enough before they are released from my ovaries.  In other words, every month that I cycled my body released an egg that could never become fertilized.  

A few thousand dollars and a couple years later, we had found the source of our infertility AND we were able to treat it. 
We started the wonder drug Clomid and we became pregnant during our first month of treatment!

According to my OBG, a normal woman's progesterone levels post ovulation are normally higher than 15nmol/l - we will just say "15" because I don't have the medical degree to can explain what "nmol/l" even means. Ideally, they are higher than 30, but 15 does the trick as well.  
So, prior to even considering clomid as an option, I had my progesterone levels checked.  
The first test I was a 15.5!  I passed.  Sort of.  15 was too low to say that I was actually ovulating a healthy egg.  
So my OBG wanted to get another count.
The second test I was an 8. 
My 8 meant that I ovulated a premature egg into a premature uterus.  Even in a perfect uterus with perfect sperm (which my husband is proud to have) :) my imperfect egg would never turn into a baby.  
Thus, the clomid was prescribed. 

One month after I started my clomid cycle, I was pregnant!
The clomid had done it's job- my brain had been tricked into thinking that it wasn't getting ANY progesterone, so it made extra.  My progesterone level the month I was on clomid was 44! 
We only told family and a few close friends before I hit 12 weeks just to be sure that our little buddy was going to stick around.  
And now, 28 weeks into the pregnancy, with the lords help we will have a healthy baby sometime in the next 3 months! 

I cannot explain the happiness that is in our hearts knowing that we will soon get to meet this little baby.  We have prepped a nursery, we are constantly daydreaming about our future roping/fishing/road-tripping buddy, and we are so SO blessed to have been given this pregnancy, this life.  

And yet there is a part of me that feels guilty. 
If you read this blog post, you know how Matt and I felt about Gods plan and infertility treatments. 
We trusted that since we could not get pregnant alone, we had been given the chance to use medical assistance to see if pregnancy was still in store for us.  And we knew that if it wasn't in our plan, no amount of drugs or treatments would give us a baby.  
But.... It was in our plan - thank you Jesus - and we will soon be expecting a baby!

But now ... What do I say to my friends who still are unable to conceive?
I used to be the woman listening to others tell them "don't worry, it'll happen" and "just keep practicing" and "my best friends - sisters - ex fiances - cousin couldn't get pregnant either" .....
So I obviously don't say those things...
I never ask when someone is going to start having kids as you never know if that question will hurt them.
I try not to give any advice to women who want a baby but seem so desperately far from it - I always just say that I will pray for them, that I will pray that The Lord will bless them with a child.  
I try to be sensitive of others and I always remind myself that there are SO many women who struggle with infertility. 
And now, I'm in the OTHER category.
IM the pregnant one. 
I'm no longer the one struggling with infertility.

But we DID struggle with it!
I have the medical bills, lab results and X-rays to prove it!  
I still remember the pain and the frustration and the anger and the sadness of not getting a positive test.

And yet now, I know the joy and the love and the happiness and the excitement of getting a positive test. 

I'm not a woman who is fertile, and yet I am no longer a woman who is infertile.
And I have struggled with this. 
And I have guilt.

I have guilt that maybe it came too easy - one little pill and BAM, all my problems were fixed.  What about others that go through IUI and then IVF, and then another IVF.... Or the ones that have miscarriage after miscarriage.  And what about the women that go through all the treatments possible just to endure a failed adoption?

I have guilt that when I mention my pregnancy or upload my bump pictures to Facebook or blog about the magical kicks in my belly, that other women feel like im gloating, like I'm rubbing it in.  Or that others just assume my journey to pregnancy was an easy one, even an unexpected one. 

I have guilt that I've surprisingly had an easy pregnancy so far.  My doctors kept a very close eye on me, I had vaginal exams every 2 weeks starting at 12 weeks along, and I was encouraged to have as little activity as possible.  And here I am, 28 weeks along, no complications.  No crazy morning sickness.  No bleeding.  I'm healthy!

But even with this guilt, I have not downplayed my excitement, nor have I hidden my pregnancy from anyone.  I know that this baby is here because it was supposed to bless our lives!  We prayed and God answered... But it was more than an answer, it was already predetermined!  He knew it would happen, we just had to be patient.  And because I know that this baby is supposed to be mine, I am not afraid to show this belly off and I am so overjoyed to have this pregnancy smile on my face.  
I don't want to offend others, but I also want to relish in this pregnancy because this baby is such a blessing, such a miracle.  I want to share Gods blessing and I want others to see our joy.  

This isn't the kind of guilt that makes me feel sorry or apologetic.  
It's the kind of guilt that creates awkward conversations between friends or stares in the doctors waiting room.  
It's hard to be guilty for something you know is right, for something you wanted so much.  

Normally, guilt comes with regret.  I do not regret treating my fertility.  I do not regret the pain of the treatments, nor the deficit in our bank account.

Guilt usually also comes with sadness.  I am not sad that I am soon to be a mother - it is something I've daydreamed about for years.  And I have enough faith in God to say that I'm not sad for other women who are struggling with their fertility.  I feel empathy, but no sadness.  We are all on our own journeys and God has made these journeys what they are for a reason, for a reason far beyond our knowledge and understanding.  
Sure, you can say that the only reason I am saying this is because I am pregnant, because I'm going to be a mother.  But if clomid was never to have worked for us, or if I had miscarried, or even if this pregnancy doesn't go as planned, I would have and will still trust in The Lord that he is looking out for me, that he knows what is best for me and that he will only put circumstances in my life that will uplift Him and that will give me hope and will give me a future.  

I know that I shouldn't feel guilty for becoming pregnant.
And I know that most everyone is happy for Matt and I.
I guess I just want others to know that once an "infertile woman" becomes pregnant, her worries and her sadness don't just go away.  She will be so excited for her pregnancy, but she will also feel guilt.  She will be thinking about all the other women she met on her infertility journey and she will be hoping that everyone is as blessed as her to one day carry a health baby, to one day find a treatment that works.  

If you read this and are struggling with infertility, please look at my belly bump as a symbol of hope!
I'm like you - I've struggled - but now it's my turn to celebrate.
And I hope you celebrate with me, and I will pray for your turn to come in Gods timing. 

Infertility changes you forever.
Pregnancy, babies, children, families - it's all different now in my eyes. 
God has truly blessed us, and I will try to focus on that instead of the guilt that I sometimes feel.

So here's to my turn.  And I'll be praying for yours. 


  1. You won't believe this but I also had fertility problems. I've had 4 misscariages and 1 fetal death at 5 months...I could never plan my pregnancies as I never know when I could get pregnant. I have been blessed with 5 kids. I wanted more but that didn't happen. Prayer and old fashioned fertility helped me along. I know what it feels like to yearn for a baby, what it feels like to loose one and what it feels like to have miscarriages. It's hard, yet no one feels like I can relate to their heartache cause I have 5 kids. my fertility problems had to do with progesterone. my body never made enough after I got pregnant and that's the hormone that keeps you pregnant. I just lucked out with the 5 babies I was able to have....but I do believe those 5 were meant to be ours. Lindsay, enjoy your journey and don't feel guilty. Be empathetic for those that are still having fertility problems. Guilt is a feeling that has been given to us when we do something wrong. I'm excited for you you

  2. Diane, thank you for sharing your story. It is amazing how many women struggle with infertility - once a conversation is opened up, I always meet more and more women who had difficulty. And yes, just because you have 5 children doesn't mean you do no understand this side of the fence too. It's an interesting feeling knowing both sides, and I'm happy to know that God helped you overcome your problems even before they could medically help you. What a blessing! Thanks diane! Miss you!

  3. After coming to grips with my cancer-survivor guilt, I realized I have guilt in a lot of other areas of my life. It's something that just grabs hold and won't let go! I think you hit the nail on the head about just listening to other people and not necessarily offering suggestions. YOU can't fix it, after all. No matter what the IT is. But no matter what, you can listen. I think when we become willing listeners, our ability to feel guilt is weakened that much less. Guilt is selfish but listening is self-less.

    Although I think you should definitely feel guilty for being an awesome mom!

    Shelley :)

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