Wednesday, June 16, 2010

bellies vs. babies

I find it easier to be around a baby than it is to be around a pregnant woman.

I'm not saying that being around a baby is a piece of cake 100 percent of the time but, in general, bellies are worse than babies. For the longest time, I couldn't understand why I felt this way. It seems silly for one thing to bother me and not the other. After all, pregnant bellies and babies usually go hand in hand.

On Monday evening, I had the privilege of meeting up with Wannabemom for dinner. For two hours, we sat and talked about anything and everything you can think of related to infertility and life--from our frustrations with our bodies not operating the way they should to what parenting will be like after infertility. When I mentioned to her that I had this internal conflict between bellies and babies, and that I was getting ready to post a blog about it, she agreed.

Jealousy isn't a word that sits right with me, so I'm not going to use it. Instead, I'll call it envy. I'm envious of pregnant bellies. It doesn't matter where I am or what I'm doing, when I see a pregnant belly, I have a reaction like none other. It makes me cringe, and I feel my face contort into this expression that I try so desperately to control. I try to look away, but I can't! I'm a sadist. I stare and stare until one of us walks away or until the woman gives me a look as if she thinks I'm going to grab her baby straight out of her uterus and make a run for it. (Sidetrack: for a great post about infertiles and baby stealing, go read Mel's post from earlier today.)

Obviously, I'm not into baby stealing, but I'm sure that's how it seems to the poor pregnant woman on the other side of the stare.

But when I see a baby, that tense, nervous, crazy feeling doesn't usually happen. Because I'm not envious of the baby. I don't want what that baby has; I want what that mother has. I want to know what it feels like to have a part of me and a part of my husband merged together and growing inside of me. To have a little, beating heart deep within me. To feel a baby's legs kick against my belly. I want to be able to rub my tummy--not in the way that you do when you are full after a great meal, but in the way that you comfort your baby, letting them know there is someone on the outside waiting to meet him or her.

I want to be that mother.

We all try to do the noble thing and give the benefit of the doubt. Like Wannabemom said over dinner, no one knows what that person went through to get pregnant. That pregnant belly could be the result of an IUI or IVF. It could have been years in the making. That woman's journey to become a mother could have been a lot longer and harder than any of us could even imagine. But, in the moment, you don't think about those things. You don't think about that woman's story or their road to motherhood. All you can see when you look at them is you: what could have, should have, and would have been. It's like seeing a reflection of the past or future, or maybe a vision of your innermost thoughts and dreams. You see that woman and you wonder, will that ever be me? Or, is that what I would have looked like?

You wonder, will I ever come out on the other side and be able to call a baby my own?

34 comments:

Anna said...

OMG. That's it. I have never quite understood why babies don't bother me but bellies do. Wow. It makes so much sense, now that I get it. Thank you for posting this.

Kandid Kelli said...

Beautiful & so easy to understand.

Thank you for sharing your innermost thoughts.

Looking forward to seeing you soon!!

xo
-K

Erin said...

It's so true! Bellies always bothered me more than the babies ever did. I think it had something to do with being envious of the pregnancy. Obviously, I wanted a baby at the end, but it was too hard to picture ever getting to that point. Even now, other pregnant women make me a bit uncomfortable.

Kelly said...

I agree with you. The only thing that allows me to stop staring is if I tell myself all those things...you don't know what it took for her to get there, etc. etc. etc.

Michelle said...

Most babies don't bother me. But being around ungrateful or whiney moms do.

Conceptionally Challenged said...

That makes a lot of sense. I try to give the benefit of doubt -- although it becomes hard when there is a belly, a baby and a toddler right in front of me...
Sometimes I find babies hard, too. I want to be pregnant, yes, so much, but even more I want to have a baby.

S said...

I, too, find that pregnant women bother me much more than babies. I have always figured that this is because they are a painful reminder of my own failure. They have clearly achieved what I have been desperately trying to achieve: a pregnancy.

I think for me this is because I don't want A baby, I want MY baby.

Mrs. Lemon said...

I cannot agree with you more! The bellies kill me. I feel like every time I go for a monitoring appointment, before I get to my RE's office (no bellies there as they don't see anyone past 6 weeks) I see 20 gigantic bellies as I stroll to the hospital and I get the panick, OMG what if I never get to look like that. Ah, great post.

Willow said...

You are so right. Bellies are much harder to deal with than babies. For me, I think part of it is I always knew we'd have a baby (through adoption if not birth), but I still don't know if I'll ever be pregnant. A mom with a child might have adopted like me, but there's no arguing with that swollen belly (though I do always try to guess who did IVF or struggled in other ways to get it). Great post--thank you for sharing this!

Nixy said...

I always felt EXACTLY the same way. When we had to go to the holidays with Sweet's pregnant sister, it was the reason that I couldn't stay with them. I couldn't explain it to Sweets, and he certainly didn't understand it... It's nice to know that other people feel the same way.

Now that I'm pregnant, I keep a conscious effort not to rub/accentuate my belly in public for fear of upsetting other people that I don't know. I remember what it felt like as if it were yesterday.

kayee said...

I completely agree with you - bellies over babies hurt so much more for me too.
It mainly has to do with my reaction to seeing a pregnant woman - I am envious. And I hate that I am. I know it's not their fault and they very well may have had struggles, but I just hate the way seeing them makes me feel so hopeless.

serenity said...

My confession: I STILL can't control my visceral reaction when I see a pregnant woman. No joke, my only thought is "fucking bitch."

It's awful, because I have been on the other side, pregnant, where I worried that my own belly was hurting people, too.

I think it's because a pregnant belly is a symbol for how HARD it is for some of us to get that way, how long I wanted one, how hard it was to even GET to that point, how scared I was that the universe would take it away from me.

For me, to see a woman walking around so casually with something that took us so long to get to? Well, it makes me angry. And I made it to that point, you know?

Anyway. I totally get this.

xxx

Kim said...

Perfectly stated....I couldn't agree more. And I feel the same about jealousy verus envy...I would best describe the feeling as envy too.

One day someone is going to look at our bellies and be envious, with no clue how we got there. :)

xoxoxoxox

Basic Girl said...

I couldn't agree more, its always been the bellies that I find myself staring at. Like in awe that someone actually accomplished what was so difficult for me. And you're so right, there could be a story of IF treatment behind that belly, but your mind doesn't go there because if that is the case whatever they did worked, and now she's got the belly to prove it.

ifcrossroads said...

I am ashamed of my belly in public for this very reason - because I felt the same way you do when I see bellies. I can be walking in the mall and I can see someone (usually a female) staring at my belly and I want to hide behind something and cringe. My belly is a big reminder of what an infertile doesn't have and honestly? It's offensive.
Basically I feel like I'm walking around with my middle finger extended all day.
Do you know that I've actually bought a t-shirt that says "IVF Miracle on Board" because that way I can make sure any Infertile I come into contact with knows that my belly isn't the product of a one night stand.
But still, I get it and I understand what you are saying. I wish there was a way for me to mark my belly so that fellow IF'ers would know I was "one of them" and not just a lucky duck.

Crossed Fingers said...

I agree - there are days I'm fine with seeing one but other days I feel like it's nature flaunting it in my face that I have once again, failed to reproduce.

jensays said...

when my SIL was pregnant it sucked big time, but once that baby came out i was like, eh whatever. total change.

(whatwouldjendo.com)

thisispersonal said...

Exactly. Bellies are worse than babies, and the envy is intense sometimes. I also try to remind myself that this woman (or sometimes even a parent) may have been to hell and back to get where she is today. There are two sets of twins on my block... I always look at the parents and wonder, too. Great post, thank you!

T said...

Once again, you have said exactly what I have thought. Those bellies get me every time! But the little babies they bring me nothing but smiles.

Rach said...

I agree. I couldn't bear to be around my pregnant sister. Now that the baby is here, it's much easier.

Secret Sloper said...

I agree 100% The bellies make me wince, make me glare, make me look away in sadness. The babies I can coo over and cuddle. I couldn't even look at my sister-in-law below the chin when she was pregnant, and I was worried that I'd be similarly aloof with the baby after my niece was born. But I held her for two hours without letting her go the first time I met her.

I want to be pregnant. I want to feel those sensations and emotions and that hope. But I don't actually want some random woman's kid (or even my friends' or family members'). I want my own baby. (this obviously doesn't mean I'm not open to adoption or think that it's wonderful. I just haven't let go of pregnancy as my dream)

lowfatlady said...

I am the same exact way.

Glass Case of Emotion said...

I agree 100%. As my pregnant friends' bellies become bigger, I find it more difficult to be around them as a matter of fact.

I have also said, I don't envy other people's children, I want my own child. Sometimes family units tug at my heart strings, but nothing does it like the big belly.

Ashley said...

I absolutely agree! Seeing a baby belly in person would be sooo difficult. But a baby? Not so much.

S.I.F. said...

I have been flat out convinced that doctors offices should have separate waiting rooms for infertiles. It seems inherently unfair that when I am going in for infertility treatment, I have to sit next to a belly in the waiting room... I hear you on this one lady!

WannabeMom said...

I had a great time at dinner on Monday. We definitely have to do it again soon.

Glad I'm not the only one who has such a hard time around pregnant bellies but not babies. I can hold a baby all day long and be fine (until I give it back) but seeing a prego's belly just hurts!

christine said...

Thank you for posting this! I am so glad I am not alone in my belly envy!! I could handle gaggles of babies, but bellies? Purely painful.

zookeeperjess said...

My husband and I tried for 1 year to conceive #3 and no success. We had 2 very easy pregnancies before and seriously, it was like he looked at me and got me pregnant. I never knew what infertility was like.

I know a year is nothing compared to you but I do understand what it's like to want something so bad and not get it. I feel horrible that there are wonderful people like you who are longing to feel what I felt. The kicks, the baby moving, knowing you have a little miracle inside you - it's simply amazing. It just can't be explained. I hope that you get to feel that one day.

I am selfish because I want to feel it again. 1 year we tried and no success then just like that we gained custody of our 2 nieces over night. We now have 4 kids under 4.

Still, I want to experience all the wonders of pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, bonding all over again.

*hugs*

Lula Mae's fertility trek said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lula Mae's fertility trek said...

This rang so many bells with me. I remember a fellow infertile friend saying it was seeing mums with their children which got her, seeing the bond she longed for. But with me I can just about cope with that, it is the bellies that drive me to tears. They always seem to appear en masse just when I have started my period, or when my IVF cycle has just failed. Thousands of bellies, everywhere I look, walking down the street one after the other, taunting me. I just see them and long for them to be mine, for that lovely round belly to be part of me. While it is the baby I want I don't look at babies and long for them to be mine. They are blatantly not, they belong to someone else.

Anonymous said...

Hey it's astrid. I've talked about this with similarly situated friends before and really hits you like a ton of bricks once you figure out why its the women you can't look away from, rather than the baby. I want to be like those women, but I don't want their babies...I want my own baby. I find that even being pregnant doesn't help to deter the envy. I envy women having 'perfect pregnancies' with no choromosomal abnormality (or other) scares or complications. I still envy the blissful ingorance that seems to grace every pregnant woman I see. I hate when their biggest fear in the whole wide world is labor. I get mad when they take the "gender" scan for granted or when they cry out of anger at the world upon finding out they're having their THIRD boy. And I feel so alone when they say things like "no I've never heard of [insert complication here]." I envy women whose babies have arrived who have gone through these long nine months and come out on the other side with the desired goal. There seems to still be so much potential for loss and misery and although I do feel closer, it's true what they say about "once an infertile."

Christie said...

Wow - this blog post is spot on with how I feel - it's so ME. Thank you. I wish we all weren't here, but I'm happy I'm not alone.

foxy said...

Katie - another incredible post. I can't wait till I have some time to read back over you blog and take in all of your brilliance :)

This is SO true for me. SO true. and now I understand why. I want that belly so freaking much. I don't want someone else's baby. I want my baby.

I hope that you have a beautiful day!
-Foxy

Mrs.Wood2126 said...

Your post has touched me deeply, I can relate in a way I just never knew how to put into words. Thank you!