So we all have this sliding scale of happiness. A few days ago, Ann wrote in the comments: "I think it's because of this sliding scale that I've felt the need every time [I] tell someone that I'm pregnant, to add that it did take us a while, and quite a bit of medical help. Even to people that really don't need (or probably want) to know. I just don't want to rank low on someone else's scale." Which piggybacks on a comment written by a fellow Stirrup Queen directly to me a few weeks ago. Paz, who is currently pregnant after multiple miscarriages, discussed an incident that took place at Starbucks:
"So, back to Starbucks. I see a woman look at me and then look away, I mean really twisting her neck to look away as I am standing directly in front of her table. I thought I saw...did she wipe away a tear? I wanted to shout, I am not one of THEM. I am an IF! Is there an international sign or secret nod to say, I am one of you and I did it, so maybe you will too. See this belly, it's the belly of an IF—we shall overcome! Proof that I am an IF: I might be imagining women cry in a Starbucks at the sight of my belly."
Because who else is that sensitive that they notice the reaction of strangers than a fellow Stirrup Queen who currently has a big, pregnant belly? Who else but a Stirrup Queen--who should be happy and worked hard to attain that happiness--would be suffering from...Pregnancy Guilt.
Pregnancy Guilt: the overriding emotion one feels when she finally attains pregnancy but still remembers her sisters back in the trenches.
It's survivor guilt. It's not that you wanted to die too, but you don't understand how you could still be walking around, shopping, loving, continuing life, while all these other people you know are gone. It's the discomfort you feel when you wonder if you've lost your community. You are one of us, but now you're experiencing the thing that makes them...THEM. So where do you fall? Are you infertile? Are you fertile? Are you fertile but holding your breath for nine months while you stress, stress, stress and never get to experience a carefree pregnancy?
Pregnancy guilt comes from remembering how you felt when you saw that big, pregnant belly at Starbucks when all you wanted was a five minute coffee break where you didn't think about infertility. And you know we all feel differently when that pregnant belly is attached to someone who knows the sliding scale versus someone who is blissfully pregnant without a care in the world beyond putting on too much baby weight (because non-infertiles have post-baby exercise plans and Stirrup Queens have lost-baby emotional-insurance coping plans). So you want to let all the SQs know that you're one of them. Not because you can't deal with having someone secretly hate you--I think all SQs understand where those feelings come from and will never (I hope) utter the words, "why can't you just be happy for me?" to another known SQ--but because you can't stand the fact that you may have burdened a SQ with an additional minute of emotional pain.
Taking all suggestions for a secret handshake, nose wiggle, eye blink in order to convey community.