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Thursday, October 4, 2012

it's a miracle . . . or is it?

Recently, several women have confided in me that, much to their surprise, they are pregnant. Each of these women is a member of the ALI community. In the midst of their news, the Huffington Post published an article (you can read an excerpt here) about miracle pregnancies after infertility treatments.

If you would have asked me a year ago how I would feel if I got pregnant after failed infertility treatments, whether this pregnancy would occur before or after our adoption, I would have told you "overjoyed." Isn't that what we are supposed to feel after years of failure? We're supposed to be happy for this gift - this miracle of life that is so unexpected.

If you were to ask my now how I would feel if I experienced a surprise pregnancy, I would have a much different reaction.

Part of me would be terrified that it wouldn't work. I've spent years being told that my reproductive system doesn't work properly. That I have a disease which attacks perfectly healthy cells. It wouldn't be easy to spend nine months on "Cloud 9" thinking that everything will turn out perfectly. All of us who've been through infertility and loss know better. We know not only the statistics about our own bodies, but we've watched other members of our community struggle first hand.

The other part of me might be a little angry. I'm not supposed to be pregnant, I would think. When you spend as much time as we do thinking that your life will turn out one way, and it suddenly takes a much different direction, it's easy to feel disappointment or frustration. Add on to that the fact that doctors have most likely told you pregnancy is "impossible," and it's understandable why you wouldn't necessarily be overjoyed at the news. Instead, you'd be looking for a different doctor!

Before, when I wanted to carry a baby so badly I could hardly see straight, I would have accepted anything handed to me. However, when I came to the realization that I was okay with not getting pregnant, I began to see why not every pregnancy was as joyful as outsiders wanted it to be. The article in the Huffington Post paints, for the most part, this beautiful picture of what these surprise pregnancies should feel like. Sadly, for some women, the reality is much different. Yes, it's a happy time. It's also a scary and confusing time - one that will need to be navigated with the help of a support system who understands the concerns these mothers-to-be have about their health and their unexpected change in family dynamics.

I know that each of these women will be absolutely amazing mothers. Two of them are already parenting children who are going to make wonderful older siblings. But I also understand their fears. I can't imagine what it's like to be in their shoes, yet I know that each of them will be okay. They are incredibly strong women who have made it through the worst in infertility and loss. If they can get through that, they can handle any other obstacle that comes their way.


S said...

After reading that excerpt on Huffington Post, I can relate to "Michelle," the mother. Our twin boys were conceived via DE IVF and born two months before I turned 41.

We would consider it a miracle if I conceived naturally, after 40 failed cycles TTC with my own eggs and having to resort to DE to become parents. But, truth be told, I don't think it would be a very welcome miracle for us (although I'm sure we would adjust).

Parenting twins is hard, and I had a difficult pregnancy, with preterm delivery and life-threatening complications at the end. Our house and cars really aren't large enough to accommodate more than two children. We really don't want a third child.

In addition to these mostly logistical concerns, I can only imagine how I would feel. I have no doubt I would love a third child as much as I love my boys, but it would create an different family dynamic, to be sure.

Interesting post.

Serenity said...

It's funny: I always dreamed of having my own "miracle" pregnancy after having Lucky. I think it's part of why it was so hard to (re)accept our struggles when we started trying for #2. Since I had been pregnant, I was "fixed," right?

But that's not how it worked for us.

And you're so right when you say this: "When you spend as much time as we do thinking that your life will turn out one way, and it suddenly takes a much different direction, it's easy to feel disappointment or frustration."

That's how I felt when we had to go back to IVF, and all the Fail again. I can totally see how the opposite - an unexpected pregnancy - would make someone feel the same.


AnotherDreamer said...

People in our lives don't understand why we are so determined not to be pregnant right now. But they didn't experience all the miscarriages, or all the risks/complications of my last pregnancy either. If we had gotten pregnant unexpectedly, we would have freaked out. It would have been horrifying. We would have loved the child, but we in no way wish to experience another pregnancy/miscarriage so soon. It takes some adjusting/recovering after you go through something as traumatic as infertility, or miscarriages. And of course, the majority of people do not understand that.

Very well written post.

Rebecca said...

The first time I got pregnant as a surprise down cycle I had a lot if those feelings. Then when I miscarried I almost felt like I'd been 'right' to feel that way. Now the thought if a surprise pregnancy after the rough pregnancy I had with my twins and the utter exhaustion we're currently dealing with is enough to 'kill the mood' in and of itself really.

SRB said...

As someone who IS experiencing a surprise pregnancy after IF and loss, this:

"Yes, it's a happy time. It's also a scary and confusing time - one that will need to be navigated with the help of a support system who understands the concerns these mothers-to-be have about their health and their unexpected change in family dynamics."

Meant a lot to me to read. Thank you. My whole identity as a woman, as an IFer, as a wife and mother, got turned upside down by this surprise. I *do* think it is a miracle - a terrifying miracle. I am thankful for the support I have gotten in the ALI community as folks IRL openly point out that I am "cured" now.

Logical Libby said...

If I found out I was pregnant I would start buying lotto tickets, and possibly preparing for the apocalypse...

Sushigirl said...

I know this sounds stupid, but by my last round of IVF, I was so used to treatment not working or going horribly wrong that I actually burst into tears when the second line came up. Long term IF really messes with your head.

Jennifer said...

I experienced one of those miracles...for 8 or so weeks and it was miraculous until it wasn't. It felt even more cruel when it ended because it was a "miracle" and those are not supposed to go wrong. It's taken me awhile to get back on my feet and feel good again. I agree with everything you've said.

Mrs. Lemon said...

I am currently pregnant with a suprise after years of infertility and finally a baby boy after 4 fresh and 1.5 frozen cycles of IVF (after years of clomid, IUI's and injectibles). I found out I was pregnant when our son was 4 months old and I had spent 21 weeks on mostly complete bedrest. I was scared but I am ecstatic. We were thrilled and while I will admit to fear about will it work, how will be manage two children one year apart etc., it has always been welcome and we have always, always been happy about it. I will admit however I never thought when going through infertility that I would be tired of being pregnant, but I am. I feel like I have been pregnant for two years and that something has been messing with my hormones for about six! Agian though, definately a miracle, definately grateful!

Dawn said...

I have met a few people in real life that had "miracle" babies after IF treatments. I think people start to tell you more about their life when they have a "twin" connection with you, or so I've found while out and about. I guess my point is that I see that it can happen, but I would be shocked if it happened for us.

In December, after our third arrives part of me wants to go on some type of BC just so I don't have to wonder whether or not we could conceive on our own. I doubt that I will because after being off of the pill since 2008 the only pregnancies I have achieved have been thought IUI. I'm sure if it did happen on it's own I would have a moment of panic since I'm sure life will be full with three under three, but I guess we would just roll with it. I'm not sure if I would be upset or not.

S.I.F. said...

I had a really special moment last week where I almost had myself convinced I was pregnant, against ALL odds (not just the infertility ones, but the... holy crap the timing of that would barely even kind of make sense ones as well),and it was weird. While I was of course giddy over the hope (and pissed at myself for that hope in the end), there was also a prolonged moment of "Wait a minute... I'm alone. I don't want to do this alone!" After trying so hard to do just that. I think you bring up such a good point. Part of getting past the pain and wreckage of infertility is moving on and convincing yourself that it will never happen, and that you can be OK with that. It must have to be a whole different kind of reality switch to then have to adjust to this "miracle" that you would have been so happy about just a few years before.

Still... I wouldn't hate a miracle.

Maybe that means I'm not completely over it yet?

Alex said...

I can't even imagine getting pregnant naturally. At this point, and with my immunological issues, I would be scared to get pregnant! As I lay in bed after my FET today, I'm comforted by the fact that I had intralipids, and Lovenox, and baby aspirin, and high levels of folic acid, all coursing through my veins, trying to make my body ready for a baby. If none of this was here and I got pregnant, I would be petrified, much more so than the fear I will feel if I'm so lucky to get pregnant with this FET. Both these fears and the lack of desire to go through the month after month torture of waiting and wondering leads me to my decision to get my tubes tied when I have my next (hopefully) baby. I will have to have another C-section - may as well tie those tubes to just eliminate the possibility! I know this seems silly as an infertile, but after going through it all, I really don't want the surprise pregnancy - or the wondering if it will happen...

CrysHouse said...

I found out I was pregnant (SURPRISE!) after 7.5 years of infertility and treatments. While I was completely excited and overwhelmed that we were expecting, I also spent the next several weeks waiting for "the other shoe to drop" so to speak.

Now that I'm four months, that is starting to subside...but the first 13-14 weeks were terrifying. So I totally get what you're saying here.

Tiphiejade said...

As I sit here typing, my miracle is laying in my lap. He's 10 months old and I'm STILL waiting for the other shoe to fall. When my OB took me back for my c- section he looked at me and said "You know, I never thought we would see this day. I never thought you would be able to carry a baby." He wonders why I'm reluctant to remove my IUD. I'm scared! My little man is a miracle and I'm not sure I want another.