What does the “after” feel like to you? Is it bittersweet, or are you at peace?
I seriously think my answer to this just depends on the day. Honestly, the majority of the time, I’m at peace. I am happy. Every single day I think about how I am so, so, so grateful to have Stella in our lives. The bittersweet only comes to the forefront of my mind when (1) I think about my friends who are still struggling in IF hell for TTC#1, or (2) when Charlie and I wonder whether we’ll ever be blessed to have another child. At this point, we pretty much feel like if it happens, it happens…neither of us necessarily wants an only child, but neither of us thinks our marriage can handle the emotional and financial strain of TTC for #2 through ART…so we shall see. For the most part, though, I’m just incredibly thankful that we took that leap of faith that led us to bringing Stella into our lives.
Do you still experience negative emotions surrounding your ALI journey? Did you expect this?
Yes, I still experience those negative, jealous emotions all of the time, and no, I didn’t expect it.. While TTC, I had really hoped that once I got that BFP…once I held Stella in my arms…once my dreams of a baby came true – that I would more easily be able to accept the accidental/easy pregnancies of my friends. Sadly, honestly, that hasn’t happened. Sure, it doesn’t stab my heart as sharply as it used to, but there are still so many days that I think what the fuck is wrong with me?…as I cry or grimace or groan about yet another pregnancy announced on FB. What is it about FB that makes those announcements even worse?!
Williams discusses feeling like a veteran versus a survivor. What is your take on this, as it relates to the ALI journey? Do you think of yourself in some other way?
I am a Veteran. Definitely. Yes, I survived IF, but just that word “survive” makes it seem like that journey is behind me and long gone. Maybe some day I will feel like that, but really, I think that IF will always affect me…whether it’s because of my own fears regarding TTC#2, because of my fears for my friends and siblings (both that they might have problems and my fears of being jealous of them if they don’t), or because of my fears for my own daughter and her possible TTC journey some day… I think that no matter what, my take on family building will always be affected by the path I had to take to get here. That’s not necessarily a good thing or a bad thing, I think, though I am thankful that I am so much more empathetic towards others now. It’s sad that it can take you experiencing a difficult situation for yourself before you can truly empathize with others…though I suppose that’s the definition of empathy – the capacity to recognize feelings that are being experienced by another.
How can we help each other get “there”? What will healing look like?
Healing for me is continuing to talk about my journey…to share that it isn’t always easy…to assure others that you’re not alone if you’re struggling to create your family. There are resources out there, and I feel like every time I help a woman find the best resources to help her…every time I help a friend understand the pain her sister is going through…every time I can help anyone have a little more compassion for a friend or family member that is struggling through an ALI journey… every time that happens, a little more of my heart heals.