“What is wrong with me? Why does this still hurt so much?”
I asked myself this as tears flowed down my face while looking at a friend’s maternity photo shoot that popped up on social media. While staring at pictures of a perfect baby belly, recent ultrasound photos, and blocks laid out with the baby’s name, my emotions hit me hard.
I questioned why I was so upset. I have known about my infertility since I was 20. I have known that I would not be able to carry a child because of my health conditions. These facts have been accepted as reality for a few years now. After the crying was over, I realized the difficult truth about acceptance. Just because something is “accepted” doesn’t mean that grief doesn’t still happen. Grief is normal and it’s the hardest part of any loss.
Truthfully, this isn’t the first time I have had an emotionally difficult time when looking at pictures. The first stage of grief I went through was denial. I immediately thought to myself, “I would probably have a small baby bump like that, too. I’m small enough that it would look like I was carrying around a small basketball.” As I compared myself to my friend in the picture, thinking about how I would look pregnant, I stopped myself abruptly, and it felt as if I was hit in the chest.
This was the moment I cried. I cried for the loss of my fertility. I cried because, in just a week, I will be getting my last ovary removed and will never have a chance to have biological children, even if I became healthy enough to use my egg. I cried because reality seemed so unfair. I cried for the fact that a child will never have my exact eyes or smile and will never share the same genes as my partner and me. The sadness seemed as though it would never end, and that’s when I shifted my focus to my own body and what I wished it was capable of doing.
Thinking about the ways in which my chronic illnesses have stopped me from becoming pregnant led me to become angry toward it. “If I never had a heart condition … If my lungs worked so I actually could breathe … If I wasn’t on oxygen… If my reproductive organs could function …” I was bargaining with myself. I was wishing my body was something else entirely. This way of thinking was only making me angry and resentful. None of these emotions were comfortable to sit with, and they made me feel inferior.
Eventually, I gathered my composure, signed off social media, cleared my mind, and reminded myself that there is no changing the body that I am in. Hating my lungs, heart, and reproductive organs isn’t going to make them any better. I shifted my mindset to think about the things my partner and I have discussed about having children.
We can bring so much to a child who is in need of adoption. We have met with agencies and talked about our options, and we know we will be amazing parents one day. I may not have a baby bump, but in the end, I accept that it’s for the best. I want to be present for my child as much as possible. I know that putting myself in harm’s way and taking risks to have a biological child is not the way to do that.
In a day I went through all of the stages of grief after seeing pictures. Being able to pass through these stages of grief as quickly as I did hasn’t been an easy road. This time around, I truly felt all my emotions. I didn’t try to ignore them. I didn’t try to make it seem as if they weren’t there and that I was “fine.” I accepted each feeling as it happened and let it go when it passed. I knew that eventually the feelings would lessen and I would come back to acceptance. Even if the cycle of grief started all over again, which I’m sure it will, I’ll be OK.
Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.