I remember trying to talk about this a few years ago back when I still had a podcast.
Alix used to say that I only started the podcast to distract myself from writing. But I was determined to prove her wrong, so I recorded every week. Turns out she was right. Isn’t it annoying when that happens?
Either way, back when I had a podcast, I talked about this idea of being so happy/excited/over the moon to get engaged….while also feeling a sense of grief for my single life I’d never have again.
It wasn’t so much about what it means to be single- you know, dating and hooking up with a ton of people. No, it wasn’t about that.
It was more just about feeling a huge chapter of my life come to a close. I mean, hell, I’d been single for 31 years up until that point.
(And no, I don’t mean I’d never had a partner, because I had plenty of those. I mean single in the soul sense. You know, the marriage kind of way that just makes all of those other relationships, no matter how serious or long they were, just kind of look like a cute school yard crush, ya know?)
It was such a strange feeling when I was grief stricken in a moment that was supposed to be “the happiest of my life.”
The thing is, mourning my old life didn’t translate to me doubting my decision to marry Alix. Just because I was grieving didn’t mean that I wasn’t also incredibly excited to start this new chapter with the person I loved.
I was just feeling them both- well, feeling it all, really- at once.
Feeling Both, And
We’ve often been told that if you’re sad, you can’t also be happy. If you’re in pain, you can’t also feel bliss. But the truth is, you can.
It doesn’t have to be a “this or that” kind of situation where you can only feel one thing at a time. It can be a “both, and.”
Of course I knew about the “both, and” mindset before this. Where two feelings can exist at the same time.
But in that moment of my engagement when it really made sense to me in a whole new way.
And now it’s happening again.
That’s not to say that I haven’t noticed it in a million micro-moments in between the last three years of being engaged until now. It just means that when the life moment is big, the contrast of feelings is even more apparent.
The last few months we’ve decided to take an intentional break from trying so that I can just kind of recalibrate, center, and refresh.
And it’s worked. Like truly, it’s worked wonders.
But in this timeframe, I swear to god something is in the air, because everyone I know is getting pregnant. And it just feels some type of way.
One of my friends who’s been going through fertility stuff alongside me texted me to tell me about her pregnancy (hiiii, I know you’re reading this and ily). She started the text by saying something along the lines of:
“I want to tell you something, but I don’t want to hurt your feelings….”
You know when the first line of a text pops up, and you see it before opening the full text? Yeah, I saw that, and my stomach dropped, because I literally thought she was about to tell me something horrible.
But then I opened the text, and she told me she found out she was pregnant, to which I felt a flood of relief and honest to god pure joy.
That’s the thing, I don’t want her to be suffering alongside me with negative tests and pregnancy losses. I want her to get pregnant. DUH.
While my heart burst with joy for her and her growing family, it also broke a little bit for me and mine.
And that’s okay.
Here’s the thing, sometimes when you try to explain this to people (especially people in the wellness or spiritual world, I swear) they’ll be like:
“You just need to have an abundance mindset, not a scarcity mindset.”
Look, I understand the premise of abundance versus scarcity mindset, okay? You don’t need to explain it to me.
Also, by the way, that’s not what’s happening here.
Because if it was, my brain would be thinking that because she got pregnant there was less pregnancy juju to go around for me. And that’s not the case.
What is happening is that I’m having a very human experience of loving my friend, while also grieving my lost babies. Trying to minimize that into a “scarcity mindset” is just plain….wrong.
The spiritual bypassing of it all. Ugh, I’m not here for it.
I’m here for allowing, rather than controlling my feelings.
I’m here for accepting my emotions, rather than trying to make them comfy for other people.
To be clear, this friend knew exactly what I was feeling because she was going through the same thing herself. So she wasn’t expecting me to be or feel any kind of way. And that’s why she’s one of my best friends.
This fertility process, man….it’ll get you. I’m not kidding.
There’s so much emotion wrapped up in it. Not to mention the intensity of the hormonal fluctuations, and the primal nature of it all. It’s just….a lot.
Anyone who’s gone through it knows exactly what I’m talking about when you’re trying and it’s not working, but people around you are getting pregnant.
Whether it’s one of your best friends, or even a stranger on the social media you follow and feel connected to- it’s that weird mix of joy and pain all at once that can be all consuming if you’re not careful.
You see the pregnancy announcement post and your heart flutters with happiness, while your stomach sinks and you think: it isn’t fair.
But then as soon as you notice that you think it isn’t fair, then you feel immediately guilty for thinking anything other than positive thoughts for this new pure little being coming into the world.
And if you let the guilt really eat away at you then you might wonder: is this why it’s not working for me? Because I can’t even be happy for other people?
The next thing you know, you’re in a vortex of analyzing your every thought, your every action, hell- even your character as a person just picking apart anything you could’ve done “wrong” in during your whole trying process.
Do I even deserve to be a mother?
Am I a good enough person to be a parent?
What if no child wants me?
I’m here to tell you that all of these thoughts are utter BULL SHIT, okay?
Honestly, you can ignore everything I’ve said up until this point, and just listen to this (especially if you’re in this process right now), because this is the important part.
You are deserving.
You are worthy.
And you are capable.
Feeling sadness, or grief, or even envy or jealousy when you see those pregnancy announcements doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. It just means you are a….person.
Those feelings are normal.
And, what’s even better, you’re allowed to feel them.
If there’s one thing I’ve really learned about myself over the years it’s that giving myself time and space to just feel whatever the hell I need to feel actually helps everything move through more quickly.
It’s when I try to stuff it down, ignore it, or shame it down to the depths of my core that it shows up in these nasty ways later on. Maybe it’s physical pain, illness, or just lashing out at someone unexpectedly. Regardless, it’s not great.
I’m not perfect (shocker, I know). But I’m getting a hell of a lot better at just allowing myself to feel that shit as it comes up. Yep, that means the good, the bad, and the ugliest of uglies.
Because suddenly those feelings that seemed so big and daunting suddenly just flow right out as easily as they flowed in.
So, if you’re on this rollercoaster ride that is baby making, then know this:
- You are allowed to feel joy and grief together.
- Being sad at a loved one’s pregnancy announcement doesn’t make you a bad person.
- And this might be the most important one yet: THE MUTE BUTTON IS YOUR BEST FRIEND.
Seriously. Protect your peace, okay?
I mean, ideally that’s something we’re always doing. But for real, it’s even more important in this time as you’re riding some big ass waves.
I hope you know that I’m writing this to myself as much as I’m writing it to you. Maybe I’ll even go back and read it when I’m having those spiraling thoughts kinds of days, because yeah- I’m right there with you.
You’ve got this.
We’ve got this.