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When pregnancy happens to someone else

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I’ve noticed a common theme in reading other infertility blogs (written mostly by women) over the past weeks and months: a keen awareness of, and emotional reaction toward, other women’s pregnancies.

Obviously, there are the shared congratulations and excitement when a fellow member of the infertile sisterhood trips the BFP light fantastic.

That’s not what I’m talking about…

No, I’m talking about the—often emotional—reaction to pregnancies by seemingly uber-fertile sisters, cousins, friends, co-workers, and acquaintances. Or, more generally, any “bitch with a bun in the oven” shopping at stores like Babies ‘r Us, Pottery Barn Kids, or Pea in the Pod.

That’s what I’m talking about…

In terms of emotion, I’ve read reports of everything from depression to jealousy to anger. (Anger: especially in the case of said mother-to-be handing out well-intentioned, but dumb-as-fuck advice). That said, the overarching theme seems to be a poignant sense of “why not me” and the enveloping sadness associated with that emptiness.

A little closer to home…

L and I have never talked about this particular aspect of infertility.

But, it got me to thinking: does she have a similar reaction?

I was now curious. So, I explained my observations to her the other night.

She confirmed a similar set of feelings:

She sort of shrugged. “Yeah. It makes me sad. It’s sort of like when I was young and other girls had boyfriends before me. I’m not unhappy about their happiness. I just want my happiness too. I think: when will it be my turn?”

My perspective as a man…

I can’t say I share a similar response—or really any response—to other pregnancies or childbirths. I try to look interested and act pleased. Heck, sometimes, I genuinely am happy for them or really do think “it’s the cutest baby ever!”

But, I mostly don’t give a shit.

Maybe it’s because I’m less exposed to this sort of thing as a man? No, I don’t think so. For example, at my office, I recently had three co-workers go on paternity leave for their birth of their children. We also have at least six more “blessed events” slated through the remainder of the summer. I’ve looked at ultrasound pictures (mostly alien-like). I’ve seen the baby pictures (mostly cute). I’ve not touched any bellies—because I think that’s just creepy. But, suffice it to say, I am fully aware.

Yet, I really just don’t give a shit.

Are most men (in infertile couples) like this: blissfully unconcerned?

Is this a fundamental difference between women and men?

Am I crazy?

I have no data points. So, I’m left wondering.

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6 responses so far

6 Responses to “When pregnancy happens to someone else”

  1. ToddVon Jun 3rd 2009 at 2:23 pm

    You know, until recently I also didn’t have much of a reaction to other people’s good news. But, after the 2nd IVF cycle crashed short of the 5d transfer, I have seen some bitterness creeping in to my psyche.

    My wife has, since we started IVF testing, been a bit envious of other people. We’ve both always joked about the under-nourished crack mom’s who seem to have no problem having babies when we’re taking all sorts of folic acid and acupuncture, only to no avail. But the bitterness for me started arising after this last failed cycle in May. Now, it’s tough for me to hear an announcement at work (lots here lately, too), or see a baby or cute toddler out and about without being a bit wistful and also hearing myself say “why not us”.

    I sort of gave myself permission to have that reaction, as long as it doesn’t get pronounced - and also as long as I share it with someone else and help calibrate that it’s just an initial reaction and I’m not reverting into deep bitterness. I don’t think there’s anything wrong - in fact I think it’s human - to have that bitter reaction. It’s the lingering or deep-seated feeling that’s unhealthy and would need to be addressed.

    That’s just one guy’s perspective - I’m sure others will be all across the board on this issue…best of luck to you both.

  2. Paulon Jun 3rd 2009 at 4:19 pm


    Thanks for stopping by and providing this feedback. I think you’re the first male to leave a comment here.

    Yes, I agree–and have long suspected–that there’s a diversity of feelings, thoughts, and reactions by and from men in the infertility community. Unfortunately, I don’t think we’re as good at (or, more likely, have as many outlets for) sharing our views. But, I’m hoping that (with feedback like yours) I’ll be able to demonstrate the diversity, depth, and evolving nature of our experiences.

    Best of luck to you too!


  3. ToddVon Jun 4th 2009 at 12:26 am

    I haven’t really paused to reflect on the “why” to your question…it’s interesting. I wonder if it’s the disconnect that many men feel from the whole infertility / pregnancy state in general. I mean, frankly, there are times when I wonder just what my role is other than to rub one out a couple times…and yet I see my wife injecting herself with god-knows-what chemicals. We actually read the paperwork that came with the menopur and it stated that the source for the hormones was urine from post-menopausal women…or something crazy like that. I mean, really, when you stop to think about it, it’s crazy what women have to go through.

    I would posit that, as involved as I feel…as supportive as I might be…there’s just something to the fact that I’m not injecting syringes, taking vaginal suppositories, trying to interpret the physical signs (or non-signs) that my body is giving out (or not), that makes men more distant - and therefore a bit more passive in the whole game. Perhaps that’s it…a little less skin in the game and the outcome and that contributes to the difference? Could be.

    Also, men traditionally don’t do as well getting in touch with feelings and expressing - blah, blah, blah…all that stuff. But there’s probably a component of that as well.

    Interesting question to ponder at any rate. And, I’ve been inspired by the blogs of guys like yourself and others to join the chorus, small as it may be, of men who are walking the same path. At the end of the day, there’s probably one of us for every woman who is blogging about infertility. About time we found our voice(s) and presented this perspective. Thanks for the forum and the inspiration.

  4. JVon Aug 13th 2009 at 4:18 pm

    My wife and I have been through 2 cycles, 1st cancelled half way through, and the second a big fat negative. So I have a 3 stage answer that highlights my evolution and feelings:

    1) We tried to get prego for 3 years without success. During this time my wife started to get sensitive to everyone else having babies (friends, family, society, etc.). I didn’t give a shit and thought our timing was off.

    2) After a failed IUI, and learning that my acrosome reaction failed (thus pointing to IVF w/ ICSI)…my wife became super sensitive. Once close friends (with kids or prego) that we talked to weekly, now are avoided. Communication about anyting related to our situation was kept btw us. This was very hard for me. At this point I began to understand my wifes feelings and started to see what she felt. But it still didn’t touch me signifigantly.

    3) Here we are today - 2 cycles failed, thousands of $$$ spent, and nothing but mental disappointment / crazyness. Without saying anything further…I am extremely sensitive to everything now and do give a shit…and actually cringe sometimes. But still not as sensitive as my wife.

    I think ToddV hit it on head with his comments. I wish you and your wife this best.

  5. Paulon Aug 19th 2009 at 10:06 am


    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Your feedback makes a lot of sense to me, especially as to how these things can build up over time. I know that we’ve been very fortunate in that IVF #1 (which was really treatment #1 of any kind) worked the first time out for us; thus, we didn’t have to go through one or more rounds of unsuccessful intervention. I suspect–although there’s really no way to know (I hope)–that I too would have become more sensitive over time too.

    Are you continuing treatments?

    Best of luck!


  6. Maggieon Oct 2nd 2012 at 12:49 pm


    I stumbled upon your blog yesterday while torturing myself during my 2nd IVF two week wait. I was looking for pictures of 3 day embryos that became ongoing pregnancies and births. Our first cycle with a 3dt ended in miscarraige at 9 weeks and this time around I was seeking success stories that I could also see baby pictures. Your blog was one of the top results in Google pics (go you!) and I started at the beginning (May 2009) before jumping ahead to get my answer (She’s beautiful btw!). Then I found this.

    Finally someone else explains it the way my husband once did. “I don’t give a shit”. While that perspective has changed over the last 2 years and I know he now does, in fact, give a shit. It helped me finally realize that he was not crazy in his thinking. He is programmed differently. As Todd wrote above, I think women are a lot more sensitive not just because it is in our DNA but because we are going through all of the physical stuff and have to agonize over every symptom *real or imagined* for months or years on end. The injections didn’t bother me nearly as much as the suppositories do, and I’m sure neither bother me as much as my hormones and crying spells bother my poor husband. However, I generally have the “why me, why us?” feeling everyday.

    Before I write my own novel here. I just wanted to say thank you for giving some perspective, and also to the men who shared in the comments as well. Infertility is not something we should suffer through in silence - and congratulations on achieving your little miracle.


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