The Shame of Failure

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In reviewing my blogroll this weekend I came across a question raised by Sharah in Outlandish Notions. She asks “Why Don’t We Talk About This More?”outside of our blogs — “this” being how difficult it can be to conceive. I ponder this question regularly. And I have a few answers. Outside of the very personal, intimate images that getting to conception brings to mind, there’s the shame of failure and the shame of jealousy.

It’s one thing to blog to the world (mostly anonymously). We don’t have to look anyone in the eye here in the blogosphere. We take comfort in knowing that most people in our day-to-day lives don’t even know we blog on the subject. I’ve told a handful of people about Coming2Terms — but only those I trust will understand the complexity of the subject. It’s not like I’m going to walk into a business meeting and launch into small talk about what the women in my infertility blogroll are discussing.

Who among us likes to showcase what we don’t do well? Heck, even the lowest life forms on the Discovery channel reproduce flawlessly. They taunt us with how prolific they are.

And us? Our bodies failed us. That’s extremely hard to accept. Many of us compound that failure effect by torturing ourselves with thoughts that maybe, just maybe we managed to contribute to our conception failure by our actions or thoughts. Did caffeine play a role? How about that hiking trip at altitude? Should we not have used the hot tub on vacation? Boxers or briefs? Maybe I need to lose a few pounds? I need to stress less and relax more…the what ifs are endless.

These thoughts and more came flooding back into my mind yesterday as I sat trapped in a conference room directly across from a woman who kept stoking her very pregnant belly throughout the entire meeting. Her action tormented me. It took incredible effort to keep the noise in my head down long enough to focus on the business at hand. “Why her and not me?” was the steady mantra. I walked away feeling ashamed because instead of feeling happy for her, I was angry and envious.

There are other answers, certainly, to Sharah’s question, but these are the ones that leap to mind first for me.

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2 comments

  • I know that feeling of shame all too well – it’s just another thing to feel guilty about, another what-if. What if I could be happy for pg women? Would that prove that I’m ‘good enough’ to get my very own baby? And then I feel bad for thinking THAT way. There’s no way to win at this.

  • The older I get, the less I care what others think. After seven years of infertility, I got pregnant with child #1 and only at 42, via IVF#3. I’m 46 – no more kids are coming down the pike. So when I get the question about more, I tell them I’m too old, it was too hard getting this one, and I usually I tell them it was an IVF pregnancy. And these days, it usually results in – oh my friend, blah, blah, blah, or my sister, blah, blah, blah. The more I talk, the more it’s out in the open. I don’t think that’s a bad thing – the whole deal of IF is so under the radar for the general population, yet it’s a big issue. If I’d known, maybe it wouldn’t have taken that seven years – maybe I’d have gotten into treatment sooner. But I just didn’t know.