Once you hit 30 it seems like your Facebook feed is no longer filled with pictures of epic nights out, 4am munchies and drunken selfies. Instead it seems to be dotted with pictures of cherub-cheeked babies and toddlers, parents rejoicing in how much their beloved child continues to amaze them everyday and newly pregnant couples announcing their news to the world with a copy of their 12-week scan.
It’s hard not to feel jealous.
Before my miscarriage I used to really struggle with this. Every time someone announced they were pregnant, my first thought would be ‘that’s not fair, why has it happened to them and not me’, instead of just thinking ‘that’s bloody amazing, congratulations’. Of course the latter would always come out of my mouth, but the envy was always there.
Although we weren’t lucky enough to bring our pregnancy to term, perhaps my perspective has changed a bit now that I know I can conceive. I feel more confident that one day I too will be in their shoes, and because of this I am trying to think not just about my own feelings towards infertility, but about how those close to me are feeling.
One of my bosses was six months pregnant when I miscarried. I had been honest and told them what had happened – I figured it would be better for them to understand what was going on. But when I returned to work I could sense that she felt uneasy being around me, as though she didn’t want me to see her pregnant belly in case I’d get upset.
In fact, the thought that she might feel awkward in her own office upset me more. I know she had also struggled to get pregnant and she should be able to enjoy this time!
I felt I had to break the ice with her and so started to ask her questions about her pregnancy, how she was feeling about having her second and about her other little boy. I just wanted to show her that I was ok, and that it was ok for her to be pregnant in front of me!
I have a couple of other friends who I suspect may be in the early stages of pregnancy. I can’t help but wonder if they feel uncomfortable telling me their news. I’m certain that jealous thoughts will creep in to my mind when they eventually do tell me (if they are indeed pregnant!), but the thought that they may feel I won’t want to know or that they should distance themselves from me is worse.
Pregnancy jealousy is normal. But it shouldn’t get in the way of your relationships.
I’ve really tried not to get so caught up in my own sadness, that I can’t enjoy other people’s happiness. It’s not always easy, but here are my tips for dealing with pregnancy jealousy.
- Acknowledge the thought and move on
This is something I learnt from meditation. Whilst my meditation teacher was talking about clearing your mind of all thoughts, I find that this also helps in normal life. If a jealous thought pops in to your mind, acknowledge it, don’t dwell on it, wrap it up and tap it away.
- Don’t compare
Some people seem to get pregnant without thinking about it. Had they even been trying? Do they even want kids? I’d do it so much better. Goddamn them!
Remember though, people don’t always give you the full story. Maybe they had been trying for a while and not mentioned it to you. Maybe it was a surprise and they’re actually terrified. Maybe you should be a support for them.
- Don’t be hateful or jealous
These are your friends and family! Don’t cut yourself off. Take pleasure in looking at your friends’ baby pictures or playing with their kids – after all they are pretty cute, and one day you’ll have that too.
- Appreciate what you’ve got
Remember whilst they’re posting pictures of smiley, happy children, they probably haven’t had much sleep and are just delighted that their little one is not tearing up the place, screaming or covered in their own faeces.
Enjoy the moments of calm you still have. You can take a plane with only yourself to entertain. You can sleep in until 11am if you like. And once in a while you can get drunk and roll in at 4am!
- Be honest
Generally people aren’t set out to be arseholes. If you do find it hard to talk about their kids all the time just be honest with your own situation. Let them know that you’ve been trying to have kids and it’s hard. They might not have been aware before so might be more tactful, or even have their own struggle to share.
- Allow yourself time to cry if you need it
Infertility is incredibly frustrating and sometimes you just need to let it out. Set aside time where you can allow yourself to feel sad. For example you might want to take a walk on your own and just let your thoughts play out…but agree with yourself that by the time you’re back you’re going to think about something else.