Sunday, April 11, 2010

Survivor's Guilt

Now that my idealized dream has become reality you'd think I'd feel nothing but sheer joy all the time, but sadly that isn't the case. Don't get me wrong most of the time I'm nothing but giddy and gracious beyond explanation for the gifts I've been given, yet there's still this small part of me that feels lonely and lost. I'm unsure of where I belong or how I fit into the new club that I've recently joined. For 5 years I belonged to the infertility club (and to some extent I think I'll always be a member of this club), but now that I've been blessed with my boys I feel alienated from my fellow members of the infertile community. I'm now a member of a new club--the coveted, highly sought after club that us infertiles dream about--the mommy club.

One might think I'd fall right into the mommy club, yet I find that I don't really fit in there either. Maybe it's because I've felt on the fringes of this club for two years having lost my first child (babyloss mamas aren't made to feel welcome by most among this group). Maybe it's because I feel that I can't relate to those members of the club who came by their membership so easily. Maybe it's because I feel as though my membership wasn't rightfully earned since I didn't carry my boys and/or give birth to them. Maybe it's because I'm still a little shocked that I've finally been granted membership to this seemingly elite club. Whatever the reason I feel in limbo and I feel guilty that I was among the lucky ones. Sure I put in my time and I've earned my stripes with 5 years of battling infertility, 5 miscarriages, 5 IVF cycles, the death of my son, the loss of my ability to carry a child, and surrogacy, yet others have put in more time, earned more stripes, yet are still fighting the battle. I ask myself why I was one of the lucky ones?

20 comments:

Saffy said...

Oh hon >:D<

I think there's another club out there. The "misfits" i.e. those who don't quite fit - by their choice or society's definitions. I think you'll also belong to the other clubs you've belonged to as well - even if perhaps esp in IF space there may be some who question your membership? You meet the criteria and do belong and I honestly believe that the experiences and advice and friendship you can offer within these 'clubs' is invaluable. You offer hope and a fresh perspective.

Like PE I don't think there's any rhyme or reason here either in regards to why you've got 2 cribs happening and other women haven't. Life isn't fair - it can be fabulous, but far from fair and equitable. If it was, you wouldn't even be posting because none of this would've happened - you'd have been a brand spanking new "mommy clubber" ignorant in her bliss and maybe posting about the HUGE decision of cloth or disposables :p

Go hug those beautiful boys :)

LittleM said...

I feel a little unqualified to say what I want to say to you here, so forgive me. But I completely believe and sympathize with what you are feeling. Although I have yet to get there, with Cystic Fibrosis, we belong to several clubs that relate.

The biggest one occurs when we go from oxygen/shortnessofbreath/coughing-all-the-time/masksandphysio/etc to new lungs (after transplant), no more inhaled meds, breathe great, can do it all again. I have heard (in my attempt to "prepare myself") that switching worlds, although amazing, leaves you in a strange limbo.

I hope you find your way in your limbo-land, however that may be, and I hope you recognize the club that your sons belong to. The mommy&daddy-fought-so-hard-to-bring-us-here-and-will-NEVER-take-for-granted-the-gift-that-children-are club. They are some VERY lucky boys. All 3 of them :).

Bridget said...

AMEN LittleM. Welcome to the most important club of them all Hun!
The mommy&daddy-fought-so-hard-to-bring-us-here-and-will-NEVER-take-for-granted-the-gift-that-children-are club.

Lost in Space said...

You have been through hell and kept right on going, my dear. I can't imagine the emotions you are going through, but am guessing that it will take some processing to figure out where you feel like you fit. Sending hugs and peace for your heart.

Debir said...

I agree with what everyone else has said, give yourself some time to adjust. You have been through so much Niki, changing gears so often, it is hard to settle into another club, but you will :)
As LittleM said: "The mommy&daddy-fought-so-hard-to-bring-us-here-and-will-NEVER-take-for-granted-the-gift-that-children-are club."
My DS is 12 years old, and beside TTC for 5 years to get him, we also had emergency open-heart surgery when he was 3 months old. I know my family and friends (who have never gone through either) think I am a quack about my kids, but so be it. I know what a precious gift they are. I do not think that people who have not experienced infertility, child loss, child risk, etc, love their kids any less than those of us who have gone through it, but I do think they do not realize what a gift a child is, what a miracle and a blessing. To them, having a child is just "normal", to us, it is a dream come true!
I still feel guilty wanting time to myself! I know it is because of having gone through infertility, etc, and that I deserve time to myself and time away from my kids, but I still feel guilty even wanting it. I have been given the answer to my most desired prayers, who am I to want/need time away from them?
I think that is kind of what you are going through.
You are in the gap between prayers and miracles and it takes some adjustment.
Debi (SC)

Heather said...

I've only had to deal with a small percentage of the struggles you have, but I don't feel I fit into the "regular" mommies club either. Not. one. bit. I want to join Saffy's misfits club.

Anna said...

I agree with all of the comments here Niki, I know how so many of the things you wrote about feel, being such a big part of the IF community for so long, and then being thrust into the mommy world, is incredibly difficult. I carry so much guilt with me, and especially now with our newest addition coming, I feel like I should be apologizing to all of my friends with IF problems.I don't know if it ever fully goes away. Nor do the feelings and twinges of jealousy and hurt go away that still sometimes come when someone announces a pregnancy...it's truly a mystical thing to me, how I can finally be where I always wanted to be, yet, I feel like it's not the place I fit. Many hugs to you, things do fade, and I don't think really ever go away, but these are the scars of battle we carry with us, that make us who we are today.

Jillian said...

Huge hugs. I can say that no matter what or how you get somewhere, it's hard not to feel guilty or like you don't fit in. After my m/c I finally got pregnant with my precious little boy and at my 20 week ultrasound I found out he has a congenital heart defect. Now I don't fit in with the other July moms whose biggest worry is how to decorate the nursery - mine is will he survive his first open heart surgery within his first week of life? It is so sad that we suffer with all of these things, most importantly the loss of your sweet son Myles, and yet there's still a part that feels guilty. I think it really shows what a beautiful person you are because you can put yourself in someone else's shoes.

And on a very weird, somewhat unrelated note, a couple of weeks ago I had a dream about the twins I lost and Myles was in my dream. I don't remember what it was about, but I wonder why? I wish I could remember more. Anyway, I may be in a different "club" than you...but I will always be here to listen.

Jill said...

Well said Niki! I always ask myself "how did I get so lucky?" - even though there was a lot of unluck that lead up to it. What you went through will always make you feel so grateful for the wonderful miracles that you have.

Sheri-ct said...

I remember feeling the same way. Parenting after infertility is very different. I think it's because we are so much more aware of what precious gifts we have been given and we live with the constant fear they will be taken away. It's been almost 3 years and I still have a difficult time connecting with fertile mamas. I've kind of created my own group of people that fought like hell to get into the club. Wish we lived closer! (((((((HUGS)))))))

Karma & Adam said...

I can totally empathize. My DD is almost 2 and I'm just starting to feel like part of the club - but truth be told, there are aspects of mommyhood I'll never be able to relate to (b/c I didn't carry her) and there have been awkward pauses in conversations...or I just keep quiet. But the older she gets, the less it matters because we get further away from the newborn phase where it seems that all mommies talk about is the pregnancy and birth. Now it's all about food, sleep, clothes & potty training!

alongandwindingroad said...

I can't understand what you're going through (obviously), but I can imagine it would be difficult. Thinking of you!

Whitney said...

A good read for us "survivors" :
http://www.amazon.com/Belated-Baby-Guide-Parenting-Infertility/dp/1581826109/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

songbird24 said...

Hi Niki,
I can only try to understand your sentiments about this feeling out of place,despite being in the place you have always wanted to be.But I am not a mother,or a mother who has gone through all that you have.So I can only just try,but I do understand you.You get that feeling in other areas also,when you suddenly are looking at your dream standing tall in front of you and you are not all that happy as you thought you would be,instead you are just a little incredulous.
I think you find it all surreal may be.Battling what you have for 5 years,feeling 'left out' and then all of a sudden,and 2 incredibly cute baby boys later,you would definitely need time for that feeling to sink in.You were a person all this while,not a mother who was infertile,or who lost a child or who could not naturally deliver her babies.You are a person,and as a person your reaction to such life changing events is perhaps making you take calm cautious steps.
We totally support you Niki and hope you know,you have rightfully earned,even this feeling.
Hugs,
Anwesha

李惠玲 said...

Joy shared with others are more enjoyed.......................................................

Expectant Duck said...

I think we should have our own club, the grateful to have children, not exactly just a mom's club, a survivors club really.
I too get the guilt, the feeling of why am I lucky enough to have this happen to me, but, we've had long hard roads...

Tiffany said...

I am ALWAYS asking myself why am I one of the lucky ones and is this "really" my life? Did I really get here? Do I really have two healthy little boys? I feel SO guilty sometimes and ache for those still struggling. I know what you mean about not fitting in. At first I found it so hard to fit in with the Mommy's which knew nothing about IF or how much I struggled, but eventually it will become a little easier. It is also hard to fit in because most Moms don't have twins. So all around I only relate to blog Mommies. IF will ALWAYS be a part of me. I still find myself extrememly jealous of pregnant women. Why? Who knows, because I sure as heck don't want to be pregnant just yet, but still it still stings a little. I guess when you have felt one way for years and not been able to be a member of that club, it's really hard to adapt.

Brie said...

Oh don't feel bad Niki...I have followed your blog from the days when the grief of losing Myles was brand new to the announcement of K being a surrogate for you, and enjoyed reading your account of life as a new mom.

I'm still in the struggling to get pregnant/infertile club and I love your blog..It warms my heart to see that someone "made it" to the club (=

Anonymous said...

My friend Amy led me to your blog, and I totally feel you on survivor's guilt. I was lucky enough to adopt my first after 2 mc after iui, and then try IVF for a reduced fee and get pg with twins after a 3rd mc. I spent the entire pregnancy in fear and refused to put anything up in the house because I didn't feel like I would ever be so lucky. I don't feel like I belong to either group, even though I am over the moon to be a mother of three. It's a strange internal battle of feeling dually blessed and cursed - I definitely do not feel cured of infertility, as people think I should feel. I try to reason that maybe my struggle makes the reward sweeter, but there's a piece of me that stays a tiny bit afraid it will all get taken away.

Eggs said...

Thanks for replying to my blog, and in doing so, you have led me to this valuable blog, a wealth of information for me as I go through finding a surrogate to carry our baby(ies). This post really spoke to me, because I fear I will feel the same way. I can only hope that this limbo-land will pass with time.

I've been part of the IF club for so long as well...not once have I ever had a spark of conception...a much less painful type of IF than miscarriages, but IF nonetheless.

I hope now that your boys are a little older, you are finding more comfort and ease in "The Club" and that the pain of IF has been replaced by the daily joy of your babies.

Looking forward to reading more of your blog!