An Infertile’s Relationship with Shame, Blame and Guilt
Following other bloggers and learning more about the emotional consequences of infertility and miscarriage, I’ve begun to realize that there is are very real and deep rooted feeling of guilt, shame and self-blame for those experiencing most (if not all) types of infertility.
I find these emotions fascinating because I have not once felt shame because of our miscarriages and I have never blamed either one of us for them. Although, I do feel guilt, it’s important to note that guilt is an emotion that I feel about almost everything, so for me it’s not unique to this circumstance (I’ll get into my obsession with guilt in a bit).
Before I jump into my experience with these three emotions, first, let me state that I have watched Brené Brown’s TED Talk, and have only read only the first 3 chapters of The Gifts of Imperfection. (I have no idea why, but for the first time in years, I have no interest in reading right now. The book is great, but as much as I try to force it, it’s just not coming to me, so for now, I’ve given up. I’m sure I’ll get back to that book (and a few others) in a few months). Anyways, I highly recommend at least watching her TED talk, if you haven’t already.
Anyways, on to the point – I honestly do not feel responsible for our situation, and therefore I do not blame myself for the situation. And I don’t believe my husband does either. We trust in science, and science says that there is nothing wrong with me and there is nothing wrong with my husband. Something is wrong with each baby, but it’s not a direct result of a problem with either of us – i.e poor egg quality, poor sperm quality, genetics, uterus abnormality, etc. Chances are the miscarriages are the result of a genetic error with the alignment of the chromosomes that occurs at the time of conception. Science just hasn’t advanced far enough to detect, explain or fix the problem. Yes, this sucks, but this isn’t our fault. And quite frankly, even if there was a problem with the eggs, or sperm or uterus, I still wouldn’t see this is our fault. Neither of us are willfully causing this situation by anything we are doing or have done.
If it’s a genetic problem, and I’m desperate to look to blame someone (which I am not), then shouldn’t I really be blaming our parents, since in all actuality they created us with the flaw? Now, I’d love to blame our parents (because, let’s be honest, parents can make a good scapegoat), but it makes no logical sense and just sounds rather ludicrous. Again, they sure didn’t intend for this either.
For me, to be able to place blame, requires that someone intended to cause harm. So, clearly, there is no-one to blame in this situation. This simply isn’t my fault and it simply isn’t his fault. And it also isn’t our parents fault.
As for shame. I do not believe we are not flawed, as per all the scientific stuff I already mentioned. Therefore, we are not unworthy of acceptance or belonging. I feel no shame with our circumstances. If others want to look down on us because of this, that’s their problem and most definitely the least of mine.
I will admit that I do feel some guilt. I have a horrible relationship with guilt – I feel it all the time. I feel guilty for watching too much TV, for working too much, for not working enough, for reading a book and not helping cook dinner, for not being in the car with my family the day when my mom and sister died, for not walking the dog longer every day, etc. I literally feel guilty for most things – I think this has to do with my attempts to do everything perfectly in order to lead a perfect life. But, I know this about myself, and I work to reduce these feelings when appropriate and to tell myself that I’m being insane when necessary. So, I also recognize that I may feel guilty for not being able to protect my child, but rationally I completely understand that these are circumstances beyond my control. We have done everything to make happy and healthy eggs, sperm, and uterus – like all the standard things and then some: no alcohol, no sushi, no cold cuts, no toxic chemicals, etc. So I will not be consumed by my guilt. I will acknowledge it from time to time and move on from it.
So, I cannot feel shame and I cannot blame ourselves for this. This situation is simply out of our control. It is what it is, so I do not harbor any feelings of blame or shame (I do realize this is very different than how most women feel). But, I still don’t like the situation, and I still wish we weren’t experiencing Recurrent Pregnancy Loss. But, we are. So, we preserver and see what happens with our next try.
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