Friday, June 24, 2011

When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Go Shopping.

I know that it is normal for women who are pregnant after going through infertility to experience significant fear and anxiety about their pregnancies.  When you are used to being part of the lucky 11% of couples who will have their lives disrupted by infertility, or part of the 1% of women who will be diagnosed with premature ovarian failure or diminished ovarian reserve, it is difficult to tell yourself that you won’t fall into the other groups that you never want to join.  For example 1-3% of American births involve some type of serious birth defect.  I think that, had I had a different background, I would say “Phew.  My baby has a 97-99% chance of being born with no significant problems.  Great odds!”  Instead, that statistic haunts me every day.  And I won’t even talk about the miscarriage statistics.    

I’ve read other women’s blogs…women in the midst of post-IF pregnancies, and I see a lot of the same concerns expressed.  However, it is amazing to me how differently women in very similar situations, experiencing the same fears, react to those fears.  Many women choose to keep their pregnancies quiet and not to tell many people about it.  Many women choose to refuse to allow themselves to acknowledge their fears… existing in a very deliberate and positive state of denial.  And then there is me. 

I am unable to keep my mouth shut about anything.  I am slowly realizing that more and more people know about my pregnancy, even though The Prince and I aren’t supposed to be telling anyone beyond immediate family for another two weeks.  It seems as though every time I get nervous about the pregnancy, I end up blurting our pregnancy news out to people (usually people I have very little contact with…which is humiliating).  I had been blaming pregnancy hormones, but other women have the same hormones coursing through their veins and they seem to be able to maintain a sense of self-control.  So…after thinking hard about the situation, I’ve come to the realization that “sharing” is one of my coping mechanisms.  I think that a part of me, buried very deep inside, believes that, if enough people know about the pregnancy, the pregnancy won’t go away.  I know how irrational that is, but I think it is what is at the heart of my “blurting” tendencies.

The other coping mechanism I’ve realized I’m using is the ever-popular retail therapy.  Or, maybe I should say retail-planning therapy.  I am starting the research for my baby registry and plan on starting the registry in the next couple of weeks.  I have picked out the nursery furniture I like.  I have decided on my baby shower theme.  I have started online shopping for the baby shower decorations, invitations and favors.  It feels like, if I plan enough for the baby’s arrival and for my baby shower (a celebration of the pregnancy nearing a successful conclusion), I’ll make it that far.  Nothing bad will happen.  If I stop planning and live in the moment, I will have to address the reality that this moment is fleeting and I can’t control what tomorrow will bring.  I prefer to continue with the comforting (and fun) distractions.

While doing my self-evaluation, I realized that I’m not the only one adopting this coping mechanism.  The Prince is doing the same thing I am.  This weekend, when I was having cramping and spotting, and we were worried about the health of the baby, The Prince started construction on the nursery…in earnest.  At the time I was too overwhelmed with concern for the baby to realize what was happening.  But now I see that he was focusing his nervous energy on a physical activity (his M.O.) and that he too (although likely subconsciously) believes in the “If you build it, [the baby] will come” philosophy/superstition.

Are we embracing the pregnancy or are we relying on a practical form of superstition to get us through this very scary time?  Are either one of those possibilities really that bad?  We are both functioning instead of spending our time stressing out about the “what if’s.”  Isn’t our way better?  Not better than the way others are dealing with these same issues, but better then the alternative for us (making ourselves sick with worry).  I think it is, and even if it is not…I’m still going to keep shopping.


Lindsey said...

I swear we are twins! I do the same thing every time we start a new cycle, tell people, do online baby research all that. Also Blue is trying to convince me that he should grow a "pre-emptive" mustache because I told him years ago that mustaches are creepy and he can't have one until we have kids. He actually quoted the "if you build it they will come" Feild of Dreams line last week while trying to convince me about the mustache!

S said...

I needed to read a post like this today, so thank you for writing it.

Worrying about what might go wrong won't prevent it and will just steal your joy in your long-awaiting, hard-won pregnancy. So I think you and your husband have the right approach. There is absolutely no reason not to live your life as if your baby is coming because, in all likelihood, s/he is!

"Fertiles" do this all the time. One more reason to envy them: they don't know enough to worry during their pregnancies.

Marianne said...

OMG now I feel anxious. We are about equally far along and I haven't bought anything besides a used swing! Ack!

China Doll said...

I'm gradually getting to the point where you are, where I can think about baby clothes/maternity clothes/nursery shopping without freaking out, but I'm not there yet! I am veering to the other side of superstition and won't buy anything until we get an 'all-clear' on our 1st trimester screening!

But I have started looking at maternity clothes and thinking about what I will buy as soon as those tests come back OK :) I think your way of coping is a good one - at least you can have some shopping fun now! xx