Thoughtful Thursday: Ten Little Indians

March 26, 2009

Thoughtful ThursdayThanks to my announcement this week, my infertility support group is disbanding. I saw it coming, but I still feel bad.

Let’s back up.

The first meeting of the support group occurred in November. One woman got pregnant before the first meeting, and we never met her. Almost every week someone else would get pregnant and drop out. Usually after an IVF or another treatment, but occasionally without treatment. One after another, they kept disappearing. Sometimes a new member would show up, and the next week she’d be pregnant.

After the holiday hiatus, the support group leader told me that she and I were the only ones who still weren’t pregnant. There were two other women who hadn’t been able to try for a while (one post-op recovery and one husband with an extended absence). She and I were the only ones who possibly could have conceived yet did not.

She and I were also the veterans who had dealt with infertility/loss the longest, and invariably the two of us would be the ones to answer questions for women newer to infertility. Sometimes the meetings were a mix of support and information, but sometimes the meetings involved two hours of other people asking us questions. A little annoying, frankly, and not really what I signed up for.

I saw the disbanding coming. I knew that once I would be unable to attend (whether due to scheduling or pregnancy), the group wouldn’t last. I just didn’t know it would happen so soon, or in this way.

I felt a little bad for causing the demise of the group, but I felt worse having to make the announcement to her.

I tried to be gentle and sensitive, because I have been on the other side of that conversation too many times. She has experienced a great deal of loss, and so I talked about being pregnant with twins “for now” and not knowing what the future would bring.

She was really shocked. She also said that she was happy for me, but she was as shocked as I was when I heard about my first beta. She made fun of me for my certainty about the futility of the IUI cycle.

Today’s Thoughtful Thursday question: Have you felt guilty for leaving others behind in your journey? It can apply to any kind of journey: the quest for parenthood, getting married, finding a partner, losing your virginity… anything that we want and can’t necessarily achieve instantly.

I never felt guilty about meeting or marrying DH because it happened so young that most of our friends were not even looking yet. Virginity? I was on the slow side for that one.

Infertility, of course, is the big journey for me.

With my first pregnancy in 2004, I was the only infertile I knew, so I had no reason to feel guilty. I was unequivocally happy then, albeit briefly.

With my second pregnancy last year after IVF #1, I knew about the pregnancy for such a short time that I barely got a chance to tell anyone, and those I did tell were not infertile.

Now, I have the support group, a few infertile IRL friends, and the entire blogosphere. I am leaving a lot of people behind. I hope that most of them will join me soon, but I know that it will take a while for some and that parenthood will never come (at least through the method they anticipated) for a few.

Of course, I’m not sure that I’m leaving them behind. In an instant, it could all be gone and I could be right back where I started.

I also don’t feel like I’m really leaving them behind. I am not that kind of infertile — I am not the kind who forgets. Seven years makes a pretty permanent impression. I will continue to blog foremost about infertility. This won’t turn into a pregnancy blog or a parenting blog; discussions of pregnancy and (hopefully) parenting will occur through the lens of infertility. If I did forget about infertility, I would have good reason to feel guilty — but what’s funny is that if I were that oblivious, I wouldn’t even realize that I should feel guilty.

Have you ever felt guilty about succeeding while others continued to fail?

Note about the title “Ten Little Indians” to those unfamiliar: It’s a children’s song that involves counting backwards from 10, with each one disappearing progressively. There’s actually an even more racist version that I never heard as a child. There’s a similar song about Ten Little Monkeys jumping on the bed, who one by one fall off and bump their heads. In this case, death/injury = pregnancy/parenthood.

26 Responses to “Thoughtful Thursday: Ten Little Indians”

  1. nishkanu Says:

    Holy poop, yes, yes, yes. It is so perfect that you bring this up today. I just started my blog last week, intending it to be a good-bye to IVF with the lessons I’d learned over 8 IVF cycles. Then I POAS’d positive yesterday but didn’t blog it because I didn’t want people coming to my blog for info about coping with IVF to have to deal with it. I got my positive beta today and I almost didn’t post that either but I realized that at a certain point I was probably going to need to mention it so I may as well cut the cr*p and put it up already. I agonized a lot about whether to put it just on the blog, or just on the Ballroom, or neither, or what.

    We are doing DE and now I am in the weird position of worrying about hurting other people’s feelings with my maybe-pregnancy vs. still feeling a small pang of jealousy when people manage to get pregnant without donor gametes. The world of infertility, it plays with your head.

    And I would really like to compliment you on an analogy that places pregnancy and parenthood on equivalence with death and injury.

  2. dragondreamermom Says:

    I think some level of guilt (although not warranted) is inevitable when you’ve finally succeeded after dealing with infertility for a long time.

  3. There have been many times when I’ve felt guilty for having a family and moving on when my mom passed. I’d feel guilty when I would just want to stay home to spend time with the husband and kids, but my friends wanted me to go do something with them. Same with moving on when my mom passed away. I’ve recently realized that this is MY life and if I want to stay home with my family, then that is my choice and it is OK. I’m still struggling a bit with the feeling of leaving my mom behind, but I’m slowing learning it’s not the case.

  4. Eve Says:

    Welcome, welcome to the ‘others’ club as I have coined it…not a primary IFer anymore and yet not a ‘naive’ FP (fertile person). I ABSOLUTELY still have a heart for infertility despite having a 2.4 year old…and going through infertility the second time around has been suprisingly almost as painful (but not quite) as the first time.

    Some people might be upset, disappointed, left-out, jealous or whatever else infertility makes us feel about someone else’s BFP. But YOU didn’t cause our continued infertility.

    I know you will be sensitive to the feelings of others in your blogging. I still aim (even with my son) to blog to those in infertility, even with primary infertility…so much that I asked Mel to move my blog listing from ‘secondary’ IF to ‘general IF’ (although she didn’t want to hurt those with primary IF to be hurt reading about my son).

    Anyway, your years of experience and wisdom learned will serve as a light for those of us still lost in the fog.

    Still so happy for your BFP!!!! ICLW!

  5. Nity Says:

    I totally feel guilty. I feel guilty that I’ve left people behind. I feel guilty that I want to be excited but am scared to be. I feel guilty that I don’t want to hurt people by announcing pregnancy when they’re struggling to try.

    That’s a lot of guilt, huh?

    Love your thought provoking Thurs questions.

    And I’m super excited about the 2 little nuggets digging their way into your womb. :o)


  6. Heather Says:

    I can honestly say, I don’t feel guilty about graduating to the other side. I’ve fought IF issues for over a decade and have one 8-year-old daughter and soon to be twin boys all from help with the doctor. I’ve never had an “oops” pregnancy, but I have had 3 miscarriages from pregnancies that resulted from IF treatments. I will always see myself as infertile because of all I’ve been through. I am very honest and open with people about my situation because I want to make sure that if there is that one person out there that thinks things are completely hopeless, to let them know that all things are possible, we just need to find our path. For some that path even includes adoption. I do understand however if people don’t want to come to my blog right now because all I’m talking about is the pregnancy and I know I’m all lit up with happiness. We’ll have three children and our family will be complete.

  7. fattykins Says:

    Funny you mention people showing up to the group and then getting pg right away – when I finally got around to starting my very own IF blog with the catchy title of “cycle day one” I got pg the next cycle. It was weird.

    I was also part of an IF board. Most of us were in the clomid stages, but there were a few who were into the more advanced treatments. I was one of the founding members but within 3 months of the group coming together, I got pregnant. Several months later I had my baby and there were still ladies on there still trying…still hoping. I suffered from survivor’s guilt for quite a while and while I didn’t leave the group (we all agreed that we would stay even after we got pregnant) I didn’t feel like I belonged.

  8. fattykins Says:

    Oh – and even though I have all the children that I need and dh and I have decided we’re done and he got the big V I *still* feel kind of a stab in the heart when someone I know gets a bfp or has a baby. Even though I am clearly on the “other side” I have not gotten over IF. It haunts me and I hate that my gut reaction when I find out baby-related news about people is not that I’m happy for them – but that it upsets me deeply. Weird, I know.

  9. strongblonde Says:

    i definitely feel this way now. i’m in the same boat as you, though: three years, molar pregnancy, cancer, chemotherapy, and multiple proceedures later? how could i forget…. but i still feel a little weird. like i don’t want to talk about it at all. still feeling a little superstitious, i guess.

  10. onepinkline Says:

    I have a cycle buddy from my clinic. Throughout this past (our first ivf) cycle, we had the same med protocol, same e2 all the way through. Same ER and ET date. Same number of follies, eggs retrieved, eggs fertilized and blasts implanted – none to freeze. Went I got the BFP and she did not – I felt terrible. It’s only been a few weeks and that guilt is thick in my heart.
    As you said, I could be right back with her in a heartbeat. But for now, while I’m waiting for ultrasound and she’s waiting for next steps I can’t help but feel bad.

  11. ^WiseGuy^ Says:

    Wow, this is first TT question, where I am totally stumped!

    Yeah, I know that children’s song and it is so queer to be able to find a connect to it in the sense of infertility! Queer as in neutral sense, not in a negative sense!

    Have you ever felt guilty about succeeding while others continued to fail?

    I am not really sure if I can enlist guilt as an emotion.

    Losing my virginity – well, I did it late, and the politically correct way. There were no issues with that.

    Infertility – Have not succeeded yet, so I can’t really make a comment on this.

    Getting Married – I got hitched at 25. That is an age where one is neither too old, nor too young to enter matrimony. At that point of time, I had a very close friend who was also unmarried. When I got hitched, she was the last remaining single person in the group. Her parents had been groom-hunting much longer than my parents. After my marriage, I got busy with my new ‘whatevers’ and could not devote as much time to our friendship as I would earlier. I was conscious about it and it did make me feel guilty at times. She finally got married in May 2005.

    BTW, she had thyroid issues, which medicines and yoga had taken care of. As of today, she is the mother of a 18 month old.

    Now, I am the one who is left behind. The only one in my group who is still childless.

  12. Leslie Laine Says:

    This is such a great question that I considered writing a post on it, but I’m not quite ready. It’s very opportune timing, though. I am so excited about my BFP but I’m scared, and I feel guilty about that. I also feel guilty about announcing our pregnancy to people who are having a hard time.

    I just don’t ever want to make someone feel the way I’ve felt so very many times over the last 2 1/2 years. Great post.

  13. Yes, I can see how this would happen. Like you, (if you did make the announcement in person), I can just picture the shock on your friend’s face as she tried to digest this information, realisation that “she is the only one now” and then trying hard to put on a happy face so that you wouldn’t think she was a shitheel for feeling suckerpunched, even though you KNOW how it feels and have been there, probably too many times to count. Its inevitable in this ttc journey that some will join, some will stuck around for a while, and some will leave as soon as they’re pregnant and stay pregnant.

    Infertility is like an invisible scar that sticks around. It never lets you go, like a stray and rabid dog that you befriend once. Even comparing it to vampirism sucking the life and good energy out of you, would be almost the truth.

    It is no wonder that you may never truly let go of infertility. One day, perhaps in the future, you’ll be able to let it go and a great burden will be lifted from your shoulders, but I’m gonna be smart and say that day isn’t this year or the next.

    I’m going to answer the TT question on the basis that, if I achieved a pregnancy (that turned into a live birth), I would feel so horribly guilty – from a blog point of view (because, seriously, I wouldn’t be beating anyone IRL by the time I get to THAT fucking point in time)- that I’d be creating a fresh, brand spanking new “separate” blog with a message on the infertility blog that this has happened. I wouldn’t want someone to stumble across the blog and then be even more depressed than they were because ‘oh look, even this one’s pregnant’. I’d want them to understand the hell that is the journey and if they wanted to, to email for the link to the new blog. Its so difficult to narrow this down when I haven’t achieved a sustained pregnancy yet. I may completely change my mind and start posting things about my pregnancy and how worried I am about it (inevitable). As you know, some people are genuinely happy when they come across an IF blog and see that the author is now a parent. I know I fall into the “depressed, isolated” category so I’d do my best to make sure that my blog didn’t contribute too much to a person’s state of mind when they came across it.

    Hope that made sense. I’ve been interrupted twice during this comment, so lost my train of thought a little bit.

  14. *stick* around (typo first para)

  15. This is a really great question, and the answer for me is pretty complicated. I feel guilty about being on the other side, yes. I also feel guilty that I got pregnant on IVF cycle #1. However, I still feel a little pang of resentment when one of my friends gets pregnant really easily: after 1 month of trying or on their honeymoon.

    But you know what, I feel most guilty about the friends who would make great parents, but are having trouble getting pregnant and can’t afford IVF. Two of my friends have been trying for a while now, and both of them have insurance that doesn’t cover infertility treatment, and neither of them are in the position to plunk down a ton of money for all of the tests. So they just keep on trying, and they’ve (understandably) stopped wanting to talk with me about trying to conceive after the first initial suggestions of ovulation kits and fertility monitors didn’t work. I know I shouldn’t, but I feel really guilty that we had savings to spend on IVF and that they didn’t. I also want to help them with their frustration, but I don’t know how. The weird thing about being on the other side is that often people who are starting to have trouble with infertility really want to talk to you, but then if the problem persists then they stop wanting to talk to you — especially if you’re pregnant — especially, especially if you’re showing.

    But really, I can’t complain. Most days I just feel relieved that IVF worked. Today the doctor told us that we had reached the point that if the baby were born now, she would live with medical intervention and probably not suffer any mental problems. I wanted to cry. As you’re probably already discovering, IVF moms worry A LOT more than spontaneous moms. So for now, I would suggest focusing on staying as stress-free as possible and putting guilt on the back burner. You’re going to need all of your zen just to get through the first trimester.

  16. Kymberli Says:

    Yup, I’ve felt guilty. That’s at least a small part of why Ive chosen to be a surrogate. I think that my guilt grew wider with time and the more my family built. When ttc, my online infertility community was VERY small, and we were fluid. There were people coming at around the same rate that we were going. I did feel guilty that it took a couple cycles of Clomid to get pg when others were going through so much more. I think that my need to be part of some infertility group grew more AFTER I had the kids.

    Prior to that, even with the IF group I belonged to, there were still a lot of resentments about IF that I held on to. I didn’t have a channel to let those feelings out and most certainly wouldn’t have just joined a typical IF board, me being through the fire and with my children. I just felt stuck. I didn’t feel like a regular baby-dust spouting mom – the infertility had hardened those parts of me.

    It wasn’t until I stumbled onto Mel’s Stirrup Queens and poked around there that I felt like there was a place for me. She was open and welcoming and I knew that I could create a niche for myself there. As a result, much (but not nearly all) of the guilt I used to carry around is gone.

  17. K Says:

    I have alway fealt guiltythat I am so bummed trying to conceive #2 whne i already have a son.I thikn they are all looking at me saying she already has one!

  18. Liv Says:

    I just popped over to check on you after the crazy beta number I read a while back. I’m so happy to see two little sticky beans on your u/s. Felicitaciones. Will continue to think positive thoughts throughout the rest of your pregnancy.

  19. Faith Says:

    Congratulations to YOU — I know it’s been a journey. As for feeling guilty, yes, I do. I don’t have a pregnancy to equate the guilt to, but I can identify through going to grad school, moving away from the small town where I grew up, etc. Hopefully you can lay down whatever guilt you are carrying and pick up JOY very soon.

  20. I feel guilty about leaving my best girlfriend behind in the dating world while I enjoy married life.


  21. Carrie Says:

    First off, congrats on the twin babes in there! I am so happy for you!

    To weigh in on your question: I definitely feel guilty but also somehow entitled. I have lost so many babies and have gone through hell to get here, so if the baby stays, I guess I will feel both sorry that all my IF sisters weren’t following me, and glad to be moving on.

    It is great to read your story. I am going back for Beta #2 tomorrow and am so nervous it won’t double… I take lots of strength from your affirmations. Today, I am pregnant… I love it!


  22. Malky B. Says:

    Congrats on the twin pregnancy. I’m happy for your sake that it is twins and not more with that extremely high beta. Would you mind me asking how many follicles the doc saw prior to IUI?

    Can’t say that I felt guilty at any of my pregnancies. The first two I didn’t even know anyone else
    personally struggling with infertility.

    The 3rd pregnancy I didn’t tell anyone who was infertile until I miscarried so again no guilt.

    Try not to feel too guilty. This pregnancy has been a long road for you. Take it one day at a time and try to enjoy it.

  23. Malky B. Says:

    As for other things in life involving guilt – I did feel guilty getting married before my older sister. Not that guilty though since my sister younger than both of us was already married and I had dated for 4 years before meeting my hubby. But some guilt none the less.

  24. Dreaming Soul Says:

    I certainly don’t feel a sense of guilt, but I do feel more sensitive to the feelings of others. Throughout the nine years of TTC I would stray from blogs of those who achieved the positive I so longed for. Some women understood, others were hurt. I just couldn’t force myself to read about their joy as I wasn’t in a place where that was possible.
    Now that I am pregnant, I find myself tripping over blog posts for fear that others will be hurt by what I write; that others will feel as sad as I did throughout all those years of trying without success. That said, I want to relish in every moment of this pregnancy. I want to be able to write about all the good things that are happening as well as all the scary emotions I feel. It’s hard to balance sensitivity with elation.

  25. Cat Says:

    I sure do feel guilty about getting pregnant, along with several other Big Deal emotions, the least of which is excitement, quite honestly.

    My support group was/is on an online forum. We all started out doing our IVF cycles last July, it was the first cycle for many of us. Those of us that got a BFP went to the Due Date boards, but those of us with BFN’s were left to falter until one woman started a thread just for us. Since then we’ve all done other cycles, whether fresh or frozen, and supported each other through it all. About half of us are now pregnant and the other half are still trying. Some of those still TTC have moved on to other threads or are taking a break, but a couple still hang out. It’s become very weird to me, though, and I feel guilty every time one of them gets another BFN. Why did it finally work for us but not for them? We don’t deserve it any more or less than the others, but for some reason it worked for us this time but not for them.

    Part of me was always convinced I’d be the last un-pregnant woman standing from the group, and that part hasn’t completely given up yet either. I should be as excited as everyone else is about this pregnancy, but I’m just not.

    I also will never, ever forget what the last few years have been like. We hardly told anyone what we were going through, but while announcing the pregnancy to friends and family, we have been telling everyone that we used IVF. That’s actually been very freeing, especially how brutally honest I’ve been in answering questions. Our TTC time has been so painful, I just can’t see softening my answers to spare anyone else’s feelings. I want them to know what it’s been like because so few people really understand.

  26. Shelby Says:

    Great topic. I do feel some ‘survivor’s guilt’, even though as a newly PG IVFer, I am far from out of the woods. Until I have that baby in my arms, I will not have considered myself as ‘successful’. No matter what happens, though, I will always be infertile. My heart will always be struggling to get out of the trenches and because I know those trenches so well, I will always feel so strongly of what my infertile sisters are enduring. I think it is simply because I know the pain of failure so well and because I can count many women I consider better than I who have not yet met success that I feel secretly undeserving. Yet on the other hand, I have struggled for 5 years for this. It’s a twisted little ball of emotions and thus a really great topic!

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