Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Dichotomy of Happiness and Sadness

Is it possible to be happy and sad at the same time? Does the presence of one diminish the magnitude of the other?

These questions have been swirling in my head for the last few days.

Like most infertiles, I used to hear of someone becoming pregnant easily and I would think "good for them, I wish I could get pregnant that easily." Interestingly, I don't think that way anymore. See, getting pregnant easily (or, even getting pregnant at all) is so far beyond my reality that I can't even consider it in the realm of my possibility any more. Those pregnancies fall into a category in my mind called "the way it's supposed to happen", but, not anything I can compare my situation to at all. It's like hearing someone completed a triathlon - wonderful for them, but, it's something I just can't relate to because I'm never going to do the same.

I find myself lately struggling with something different. Now, before I go any further, please, anyone reading this who falls into the group I'm about to talk about, please read the whole thing and I hope you can understand what I'm talking about.

I find myself struggling greatly now with my reaction to hearing about and knowing women who have dealt with infertility successfully getting pregnant and having babies. Please, re-read that sentence, please. I didn't say that my struggle is with those women. I do not want ANY of you reading this to think that I am anything less than so so so very happy for you. The fact that you were strong enough to endure the pain, continue moving forward, and find success is remarkable and my happiness for you is enormous.

My struggle is with how it makes me feel. I no longer think "I hope I can join them soon". My thoughts now are "why did it work for them and it won't work for me?" It's a reminder that these treatments can work....that they should work. So, why not me? I think I've tried hard enough. I think I've done everything I've been told. I think I've paid my dues. So, why not me?

I love the support groups and networks that I've been a part of throughout this struggle. The support and love I've received is truly overwhelming. I KNOW how many people are pulling for me. And, one of the things I said from the very beginning is that it is helpful for me to be able to help others. And, I hope I've done that. But, a difficulty with being part of these groups is the sheer number of women you get to know who have and continue to struggle. As a result, you get to see so many women succeed, more than you would ever know in your regular off-line life.

Anyone who has frequented The Nest's TTTC board for a long time will understand that it can be hard to see so many women get pregnant and leave the board (while, again, we are thrilled for them), while you still linger on and, for the 100th time, enter your name and diagnosis in a "Let's get to know one another" post because there are so many new posters. And, while I've always wanted to help, I find myself ignoring the "Has anyone ever used Follistim" or "I'm scared to do my first injection" posts because, frankly, I just don't have the energy anymore.

Do I sound bitter? I should, because that's where I am right now. I'll come out of it, but, I've accepted that this is what I'm feeling right now, and, that's OK. But, still, my bitterness is about my situation and not anyone else's. I am so very happy for anyone who "made it through the rain" (Barry Manilow fans...anyone...) and I hope they all know it. My happiness for them is, in no way, precluded by my sadness for me. I think I answered my own questions. Yes, it is possible to feel both and feel them equally.

In fact, I think it may even make each feeling stronger and more powerful by feeling them in conjunction with one another than when one occurs on its own....


Anonymous said...

I honestly wouldn't blame you or even think it was a "mean" thing if you'd say you just CAN'T feel happy for others because of overshadowing bitterness/sadness for yourself. No one can live in your mind, your body, except you. And while we all try to feel happiness for others in any situation (not even pg/IF related) sometimes, you just can't.

I think it's about self-preservation. I think back to when my college friends were getting engaged and married. I was in limbo with my boyfriend of 5.5 yrs. I WANTED the engagment. I WANTED to be married. One by one they were picked off and I'm sure I said I was thrilled for them...and I'm sure on some level I was happy, but I was incredibly, selfishly sad too and it consumed me.

You feel what you feel and really, it doesn't need an explanation. I don't think you have to repeatedly say you're happy for others. Maybe you're not right now, and it's ok. {{HUGS}}

Shelby said...


I'm a new lurker and have read up on your journey so far. I have to say, I can relate to this. Although I'm new to IF blogging, I am far from new to IF. It is so hard to struggle with those coinciding feelings of both happiness and sadness. Being surrounded by people who have found their way through seems to be a blessing (at least someone fought IF and won) and a curse (a reminder of my own failure once again, as if I need that).

Personally, I think that anyone who has really dealt with IF understands exactly where you're coming from and cannot blame you for those feelings as it's likely most of us have experienced them. This is a great post, one that likely reflects what has crossed the minds of most.

Christi said...

I don't think you need to explain your feelings, they are your feelings. And, to be 100% honest, I'm glad you did. It's good to know that I'm not the only one who has some of these feelings....

Beautiful Mess said...

I doubt anyone would blame you for YOUR feelings. It's a tough place your in. All I can say is there are a lot of people pulling for ya *you know that though* and are in your corner. Keeping everything in, isn't bad and you writing is SUCH a good thing! Have a peaceful day!

Emily said...

A very thought provoking post. I do think it is possible to feel both at the same time and no, I don't think they magnitude the other.

I wrote a very similar, but in some ways, very opposite post today... It's such a complicated road we travel.

Big hugs,

~Jess said...

I'm right there with you. While I'm ecstatic that these women got pregnant in spite of infertility, I'm angry/sad that we'll never get pregnant the way we thought (a child biologically both of ours).

I think it is possible to be happy for someone and sad at your own experience.


Ms Heathen said...

I think all of us who have been dealing with infertility for some time, and who have failed or cancelled treatment cycles under our belts, can relate to this post. Although I'm always thrilled for anyone for whom treatment is successful, I too have experienced that pang of envy, that feeling of 'why can't it work for me too?' As time has gone on, I've also found it increasingly difficult to relate to those who are just starting out on this journey - the ones who seem to have unconditional faith that it will work for them first time round.

When you are going through a tough time yourself, it can be very difficult to continue reading and supporting those who are now in a very different place to you. I really appreciate all the support you have offered to me over the past few months, but will completely understand if you now need to step away for a while. Whatever happens, I will continue to check in on you, and will hope with all my heart that you too will one day get the news you are waiting and praying for.

Kim (mrskimmied) said...

Sometimes the hardest thing to admit to yourself is that you are not happy for others and I don't think that is always a bad thing. You have gone through so much to get to this point and you are allowed to feel some bitterness or feel a little selfish. That is how people get through the day and get through all of the pain, sadness and disappointment of IF.

I have always admired you for your strength and the way you try to be as positive as you can be going through this. I think you are an amazing person and am praying for you that your miracle happens soon. But I also think you are allowed to have bad or sad days.

Please don't ever beat yourself up for not feeling 100% happy for someone who went through their first IVF and are pregnant. I know when I announced my pregnancy, as happy as I felt I also felt a little bit of sadness because I wanted so badly for those that had been through this longer then I had to have their happy ending to. So to answer your question, you can feel happy & sad at the same time.

If I could come through the screen and give you a big hug I would.

Anonymous said...

I hear you. My struggle right now is the RSVP for the baby shower of a friend who went through a miscarriage and then bam ends up pregnant on Clomid.

We wouldn't be human if we didn't have these feelings.

GOod luck trying to sort it all out!

shiner said...

Hi, I am also a new lurker. I am really scared to write this but I feel like I've been where you are before. I have not been through 7 IVF cycles, just 3 IVFs + 4 IUIs. I've been TTC for 6 years. I finally came to the conclusion after my 2nd IVF that my eggs were not going to cut it. It took months for that to sink in and accept. Finally I gave in to adoption and then to donor eggs. I am almost 9 weeks pregnant now only because of donor eggs. I have never made it this far though I have had 3 miscarriages. I think I understand how you feel because I have felt this way so many times but never had the guts to say so. Anyway, I just wanted to tell you, like everyone else, that you are not alone.

Lisa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dagny said...

I understand. And feel the same way. Hence my vanishing from blog land for a while, I could not take anymore....


Kami said...

I understand too. I still feel bitter. I have a hard time being happy for people who get pregnant "easily" like with a only a few IVF cycles or with their own gametes. If I know them, I am happy for them and sad for myself. If I don't know them, well I have said, "Cry me a river!" many times to myself

Yep, still bitter even with a little one.

I don't have any advice. You could try to be less bitter or just accept yourself as you are. Studies show that people who don't compare themselves to others are happier, but maybe we just aren't programmed that way.

Mrs.X said...

Ah, thank you for writing this post. I have felt this way more times than I can count and I fought it every step of the way because you are supposed to be happy for your fellow trench dwellers. But, you can't help but look and think, why her and not me?

I came to realize - as you have - that it is not about this other person at all, but about me and my desire. Once I realized that, I was able to put those feelings in the appropriate box, give them the attention they so desperately wanted and then moved on.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I'm so thrilled to know that I'm not alone.

Jen & Jeff said...

Lisa, I totally do not blame you for feeling this way. I was starting to as well before my IVF was sucessful and it was only my second one. I was actually hating on anyone who could do an IUI every month cause I couldn't! My only option was IVF. I wish there was some way to make it a sure thing. I really hope your miracle is out there somewhere!

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