The phrase “letting go” is often used to describe the process of accepting the bad things that happen to us. The infertility journey is no different – from the time we first start trying to conceive, to accepting that timed intercourse is just not going to cut it for us, and eventually enduring the rollercoaster of infertility treatments, infertility provides successive opportunities for us to let go of our many hopes and dreams for starting a family – each one harder to accept than the last.
But letting go can also be a relief when it means letting go of anger or grief or other difficult emotions that we have been carrying with us for too long, and I was lucky to be reminded of this last week.
As many infertiles can attest to, it can be difficult to see our friends, family members and coworkers achieve successful pregnancies while we are still stuck with the uncertainty of not knowing when or even if we will ever be so fortunate. I think that for the most part I’ve done pretty well with this, but at the same time I have not been immune to the feelings of jealousy and resentment that can come when others close to you get what you so desperately want.
For me, there is one friend in particular who I just couldn’t face while she was pregnant. I’ve written a bit about her here and here. To briefly summarize, I found out last year that she had a miscarriage a few months before we did and upon this realization we had a few moments of comparing notes and sharing the frustrations that come with trying to conceive. When she got pregnant shortly afterwards I felt betrayed. She had been trying for several months and was already feeling worn down by the process while I’d been trying for years with no luck.
It probably helps to clarify that while she is a good friend, it hasn’t always been an “easy” relationship due to a competitive undercurrent. She is incredibly competitive about everything, and I think the fact that we have a lot in common (we share the same profession, were running buddies due to our very similar pace, share a love of shoes, and were born a month apart) makes me a natural foil for her competitive nature.
When I first found out she was pregnant again, it stung but I assumed I would be okay with it. I was wrong. I saw her a few times during her pregnancy, and while all of our encounters were very positive (and I believe she was trying hard to be respectful of my feelings), in between seeing her, I stewed. I stewed when I saw her announce the pregnancy on facebook (I’d already known about it for some time); I stewed when she posted her nursery pictures; and I stewed when she gave birth to a healthy boy on my 35th birthday.
And then I felt bad because I hadn’t seen her since December and the ball was in my court to initiate something.
So when she sent out an invite to a drop-in barbecue/meet the baby event at her house this past week, I accepted right away. Five months had gone by since I’d last seen her, and it was time. As the barbecue approached, I had mixed feelings – on the one hand I was looking forward to seeing her and catching up, but on the other hand I wasn’t sure if I could handle seeing her with her baby while I was still not pregnant.
But by the time the day arrived, I’d gotten over my fears and was genuinely looking forward to the event. We showed up around dinner (strategic timing on my part to try to avoid as many people with kids as possible), and as soon as I walked into the living room and saw her holding her baby, I felt none of the resentment or bitterness that had been stewing over the previous months. All I felt was happiness – happiness for her and her son, and happiness to be seeing her again.
We spent quite a lot of time catching up, and made a lunch date for next week to catch up further. And when I saw her baby related post on facebook a few days later, it didn’t bother me at all. I had let go of the negative emotions that I’d been harbouring.