2013-12-30

I’ve had a significant improvement over the last few days, and am now eating a fairly normal amount of food. I think I’m less tired, which means I can cope with the nausea better and the nausea is generally less severe. This meant Christmas went OK, better than I expected. I tried not taking the pills one morning, but it turns out I do still need those.

Despite the improvement I still don’t feel brilliant, still not normal, which is hugely frustrating. Yesterday I did three activities (lunch out, short walk, grocery shopping – great!) but then was wiped out and went to bed at 9.30pm. This remains genuinely depressing, I’m finding it hard to cope mentally with remaining so far from normal life for so long.

I ask the husband ‘why did you want me to feel like this?’ and he says didn’t want or expect me to feel like this.

I continue to beat myself up about disliking being pregnant – something I longed for, something as an infertile I vowed I would appreciate. The husband is hugely supportive, he reminds me that it isn’t being pregnant I dislike, it is having an unpleasant and prolonged illness. I still feel guilty.

The flu jab went fine, no problems or ill effects. And the nurse was very kind, noticing the nausea in my notes and enquiring about my wellbeing.

We told my brother-in-law and his boyfriend about the future-baby on Christmas day, and they were very excited. They are uncles many times over through the boyfriend’s family, but this will be the first time the brother-in-law has a niece or nephew through his side. We saw him again the next day by which time he’d bought us two baby books which was really sweet of him.

We then officially ‘came out’ on Facebook about me being pregnant on Christmas day, using the words-only announcement I mentioned the other day. I have a couple of pregnant friends and they seem to be holding off until the 20 week scan, but we thought what the hell lets be positive about this.

I had 103 likes and 49 comments, with the husband getting some more on top of that.

I’d been worried about what people would say (on FB and in person) and I was expecting a few tactless reactions and we have had a few but nothing too bad. People don’t mean anything by it, they just don’t think. We got:

  • “I didn’t know this was on the cards for you” (Given up on us after nine years of marriage?)
  • “About time” (Sorry we didn’t manage to do it to your timetable!)
  • “Well done” (Residual infertility – hearing someone saying well done to a pregnant lady always implied to me that as someone trying to conceive I was failing to do something well, like it was something I should be able to do better at)
  • “Can I tell X that this is an IVF pregnancy, they have been wondering about you for a while now.” (Why is this suddenly relevant now???? I don’t see the method of conception we used as any more relevant than them all talking about what position they conceived their own babies in, it is just how it happened to be done. I’ll tell anyone who has the balls to ask me… which is no-one. Perceived support networks avoiding asking ‘difficult’ questions which, by the way just perpetuates the stigma associated with infertility)

I realise I’m pregnant now, on the other side of the fence, but the more I think about it the more militantly defensive I feel of my infertile self and infertile others. I think there is something about coming through it and out the other side that removes the pain and just leaves the frustration and anger of how unintentionally cruel, embarrassed, stigmatising, awkward, avoidant and tactless the world and other people can be towards people experiencing infertility.

I’ve worked in equalities and mental health policy, I know about fantastic anti-stigma work, and I can see how the theory and practice maps across directly onto infertility. It isn’t fair, and the excuse is that most people are ignorant, but it doesn’t need to be that way.

When equalities issues start to become more mainstream people become more aware of them and they accept them as OK in wider society, but often they don’t expect to see them in their own back yard. Think sexuality, think gender transitioning, think mental health problems. People would hate to imagine they were bigoted against someone who was gay or transgender or had depression. But they don’t stop to think that their neighbour or work colleague or family member might fall into one of these categories. So they prattle on in their institutionally ‘normal’ way, not even considering that they are making their acquaintance feel ‘abnormal’ and pushing them further underground.

I think infertility is a bit like this now. Everyone knows loads of people do IVF these days so if they thought they might realise lots of people experienced infertility, but they don’t think it might be someone they know. The proportion of people who know we’ve done IVF that were surprised by it must be at least half, they just assumed we were too career-minded to have babies. They assume infertility happens to other people.

I’m not helping by staying underground as an infertile. Is this my battle to fight? I’m not sure. Sometimes I think maybe it should be, that if I came out I could help other people and particularly with my work background I’d know what could and should be done to make things better.

Advertisements