Thursday, September 3, 2009

That girl

(No, I'm not talking about the 70s TV show starring Marlo Thomas. . . . though I loved that show as a kid!)

At various points over the past several months, I have congratulated myself at not being bitter about our infertility in the face of friends and acquaintances getting pregnant right and left. Sure, I've felt bitter and angry when I hear about one of the felons MM supervises having a child or any unplanned/unwanted pregnancy, but those feelings are long-standing for me and pre-date any TTC efforts of my own. I've written about the fact that I could still be happy for friends announcing their pregnancies, still attend baby showers, and still be around children without being overwhelmed by sadness or anger at the unfairness of it all.

I didn't want to be "that girl." You know, the infertile woman around whom people have to walk on eggshells for fear of hurting her feelings. The average, fertile woman can't talk about her pregnancy or her newborn in front of "that girl" because she might burst into tears. You have to be careful what you say to her so that you don't set her off. That girl who can't go to baby showers or baptisms or the zoo or the like because it's just too painful for her to see what she doesn't--and may never--have.

Though I still have more good days than bad days--more days when I can cope and feel happy with my life than days when I can only dwell on my failure to have a baby of my own--I believe that I am slowly becoming "that girl." I find myself hiding the Fac.ebo.ok status updates of friends with babies more often. I avoid talking to friends with small children if the only thing they can discuss is their baby. (BTW, what is this phenomenon where most women with a baby less than a year old seem incapable of conversing about anything else?!) For the last couple of acquaintances on Fac.ebo.ok who have announced their pregnancies in a status update, I have been unable to even post a quick "congratulations!" I even find myself making less of an effort to see my (now 7-month-old) godson and his mom than I did six months ago.

I used to be the go-to person to talk with friends about their pregnancies and children, even though I'd never had any firsthand experience with either. I guess my background as a nurse and a psychology major, and my obvious love of children of all ages, made me a natural for thinking on and discussing these subjects. Old friends of mine with children (several of whom are now in their teens/'tweens) could tell you how I enjoyed babysitting for them and hearing about every little thing their babies and toddlers did.

One of the many painful things about infertility is this: that it is making me into someone I never wanted to be. I'm not who I used to be. I hate how this experience is changing me, and I wonder if I can ever go back to who I was.


  1. This is an awesome post. I feel the same way. I was just talking to D about how I felt proud that I could still hold it together and not be extremely bitter/sad around pregnant people. But then I came to the realization that this is most likely due to the fact that I am not really faced with this issue very often (on FB or otherwise). The only exception to this is with my coworkers, but many of them married young and started popping them out right away, and I can't honestly say I am jealous of that.
    So I imagine I will be turning into 'that girl" also. It think it's inevitable!

  2. I think anyone really facing infertility goes through this. I used to be the one who insisted on holding the brand new baby the first opportunity I got - now I avoid babies like the plague... I don't think it's wrong to protect your heart.

  3. I turned into "that girl" , now I am learning just to be who I am ! I am slowly letting children back into my life, it isn't their fault I can't have kids so why should I take out my guilt & frustrations out on them.

  4. I think that you have to realize that you are going through an emotional time right now and you have to take care of yourself. If that means not being the "go-to" person for friends' children, then so be it. You need to protect yourself and it doesn't make you selfish or unfeeling.

    There will come a time when you are less vulnerable, but don't feel like you have to make excuses right now - just take care of yourself.

  5. Excellent post! I, too, have turned into "That Girl". I avoid babyshowers, friends with kids etc. This is not the person I am, but it is the person I currently am. I agree with "Dot" that it isn't their fault, but I can't do anything about it right now. So, I remain "That Girl":(

  6. Very brave & courageous post .. thank you for writing it! I am just off a failed IVF and am already starting to feel that way - maybe I can try to stop myself from turning into someone I don't like. Hang in there & know you're not alone! :)

  7. If someone had told me when we started this journey 4 years ago that this is the person I would now be, I would not have believed one bit of it. It's a difficult road to walk. Some days we do it with grace and others we do what we have to just to make it through. Hugs, hun.

  8. Oh god, infertility is bad enough--don't add more of a burden by trying not to be hurt by it. I SO hear what you're saying, and it took me awhile, too, before I became "that girl." But I don't think you should hate that girl. Instead, just try to understand her, maybe even love her!

    Here's the thing that rang true about your post: you won't ever go back to who you were before. Once your eyes are open, they don't close again. But you're not going to be stuck being who you are RIGHT NOW, while infertility is constantly stabbing you in the heart, for the rest of your life. This is just a phase that, one outcome or another, will end in a few years at most.

    You're going to be a different person when this is all over. But I think you'll find that you really like that person. You're going to find out that you're strong and resiliant, that you're able to not sweat the small stuff (okay, maybe I still need to work on that one). You're going to discover a person inside you that actually knows what matters in life. And you might find your marriage and some friendships a lot stronger, too.

    So give yourself permission to be "that girl." Sure, it's socially uncomfortable, but it beats pretending that life isn't kicking your ass. And you won't be "that girl" forever. I promise. It fades. It started to fade for me long before this last IVF cycle.

    There's nothing fair about infertility. I wouldn't wish it on anyone. Hang in there, sweetie, and remember, it isn't who you are, it's just what you're going through right now.

  9. I feel it, too. The hurts are getting deeper, more frequent. I don't like it, either. I miss the old, take-it-all-in-stride me.

  10. I think it is brave of you to share this, and I think it is also very natural and normal. To draw a similar (but less intense) comparison, when I was in my crappy relationship with Chris, I wanted to hit a punching bag everytime somebody got engaged or married. When we split up, and my brother and wife became pregnant, I was happy OF COURSE, but I also felt like it was really hard to be dealing with something traumatic in my own life while watching others move forward with theirs.

    Hang in there. No advice, just hugs.


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