The Tragic Optimist

bitterness starting to slowly seep back in

Just got blindsided by two pregnancy announcements in the past 3 days. In retrospect, I should have guessed that both were coming since both women had mentioned that they would probably be trying soon. My one friend is pregnant with her second child and is already 6 months along and somehow I hadn’t caught on. When I was in the middle of the infertility treatments, I used to have a great pregnancy radar (pregdar?) and could anticipate the pregnancy announcements and at least steel myself ahead of time. But then I had those blissful months when the bitterness at hearing about pregnancies just went away, and my pregdar got a bit rusty, and ultimately failed me, and now I’m stinging a bit from these latest two hits.

It’s not that I’m not happy for them. I really am very happy for both families, it’s great news for everyone involved, but today while everyone was happily chattering away about baby things, I felt that familiar pasted on smile and quietness come over me when I’m trying not to rain on anyone’s parade by letting my bummedoutedness and out-and-out envy show.

That was particularly hard this weekend when my friend’s husband spilled the beans that she was expecting their second. Someone then asked if she’d be using her same midwife. Oh yes, she says, in fact, before they even conceived, they called the midwife to make sure she’d be in town during the “window of time” they were planning to give birth. Ok, so they were not only confident enough of conceiving quickly to give the medical professionals a year’s warning, but they were so unconcerned about conceiving that they were willing to put off trying if it happened that this midwife was going to be busy at that time? It kind of blew my mind – these people are not like me. Sort of like when a colleague at the school I work at asked me if I’d timed things so that Zoe’s birth would fit the best time to be on leave in the academic calendar. Not exactly – I’d timed things so that my baby’s birth would correspond to about 9 months after the fertility treatments that worked.

I’m sure that part of my recent unease with pregnancy announcements is that Chris and I have been talking about whether or not we want a second child. I have promised myself that I won’t make a decision until my birthday, since I wouldn’t start trying again until then anyway.** I’m not sure we’re leaning strongly one way or another right now. Some days it seems like there’s no question – of course we’ll have a second child. Other days, I think to myself how happy I am that, for instance, Zoe is past the wake up and nurse every two hours. Then I remember that we’d have to go through that again if we had a second. And the poopsplosion blow-out diapers, I’m so glad to be done with them, except that we aren’t if we have another. But then I look at my friends that have two kids and realize how much I enjoy watching siblings interact. If I’m honest though, the thing that scares me the most about the idea of trying to have a second is having to face the infertility again. I’ve told some friends that we would quite possible try for a second, but if it didn’t happen, we’d be ok with having Zoe as our only child. But that’s a complete and utter lie. I know that if I decide that I want to try to conceive, I’ll go for it with my whole heart, which means that I’ll be heartbroken at the unsuccessful attempts, and I won’t be willing to just give up and be content with our little family of three.

I’m not really looking for any advice on making the decision by the way. Like I said, I’m not committing to any decision until June, I’m just letting out these thoughts that are rattling in my brain. Maybe airing them a bit will give me more space to think.

**(Unlike my friend whose plan was to call her midwife, and then get pregnant, my plan is a bit more complicated – but still in my mind, optimistic: try for 6 months, call the RE, wait 2 months for an appointment, wait a month for results of testing, start treatment, possibly conceive 3-6 months later, for a total wait time of only ~21-24 months from trying to baby – maybe I should call a midwife now and make sure she’s not booked up 2 1/2 years from now).



  1. I came to your blog from a comment you left on another blog.

    I too, had to fight with primary IF to get my first daughter. But after 18 cycles and plenty of treatments, we conceived.

    I was terrified to try again for #2. We started again super early, just to get the non-pregnant months behind us. I figured if it took 18 for the first, it’ll take that for the second. So to have them spaced apart the “perfect” 2 years, start now to have a better chance.

    Little did I know that after just one month trying, I was the one making the pregnancy announcement.

    Primary IF does ~not~ equal Secondary IF in every case. Sure, it can, but you don’t have to go into thinking it has to.

    Of course, now that I am ttc#3, I’m into C16 already, but that’s neither here nor there. I just wanted to bring a little less anxiety in the thoughts of trying for another. IF doesn’t have to be a part of each attempt.

    Good luck! šŸ™‚

  2. Hey, sorry to hear that you’re having a difficult time. It also strikes me as weird that your friend would feel so certain that conception could happen exactly when she wanted it to. It’s great that things worked out for her, but it seems that going into babymaking with that attitude could also be a recipe for disappointment and frustration.

    I’ve been asked several times if I planned for my due date to fall where it does (in nine days!) because I was able to teach this past semester and then have a number of weeks off before delivery. No, that wasn’t intentional, just lucky. And what I’ve learned so far about pregnancy and having babies is that there’s very little that’s in our control.

  3. Amy

    I just turned 40 and after last year’s incredible disappointment month after month I am not sure we will even try again this year. Yet all of a sudden EVERYONE is pregnant. 2 of my friends with their 3rd, my boss, 2 co-workers, a co-worker’s daughter, etc. It’s making me crazy and we don’t even have one to console ourselves with.

  4. Sarah

    For us, even with this decision being a relatively easy one (I was never sure I wanted more than one anyway + so much used up karma = um, not bloody likely), I still get twinges when I see S with babies, or siblings together, or particularly disgustingly cute infants. I find myself flirting shamelessly with babies in the checkout line at Target.

    But ghods, the ability to PLAN when you’ll give birth? Crazy talk! S HAPPENED to be conceived around M’s birthday, but that has exactly nothing to do with anything. (And hey, playing the “when were you conceived” game is always going to be interesting for her!)

    Don’t settle. Whatever you decide you want, whatever boneheaded things come out of people’s mouths… You will do what is best for you guys as a family.

    (Oh, we boxed up another box of clothes today… but I can’t for the LIFE of me find the size 24 month rainbow dress, which is making me sad.)

  5. I can understand your bitterness, but I have to say that generally women (and some men) love to tell their stories of how they conceived and how the birth went. I would never tell in a neener neener neener sort of way to rub it in; I would just want to share because that’s my truth. I feel that each conception/birth story is valid for what it is. It seems to me like any bitterness should be directed at how unfair life is and how different each of our stories are. You are right to point out that we should take each other’s struggles into account, but not everyone does (or even knows how).

  6. lizzy

    gosh, I have been so wanting to ask about this but did not want to bring up what I am sure would be a difficult subject. I adored your family of two, and now I am lucky to adore your family of three. Please know that whatever decision you guys make, and however that decision turns out, your friends and family (even those who are a bit too starry eyed to think about your feelings) will continue to think you are the most delightful and amazing family.
    (I would like at least a few weeks notice before the birth if you decide to have another kid, you know, for the knitting.)
    I have my own slight feelings of bitterness with the constant engagement parties and weddings I am called up to attend, but I might have to get my own blog for that….
    also I would like to suggest the term “pradar.”


  1. Last thoughts on that bitterness post « The Tragic Optimist

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