Dear Therapist: My husband and I have been trying to get pregnant for a few years now, and we’ve been through multiple rounds of IVF without success. I am at the age where it seems like everyone is getting pregnant and having children, and I am having a hard time being happy for them. I feel a little shameful that I can’t be more excited for them, but I can’t help it. Is this wrong?
Frame Therapist Yael Sherne weighs in…
First off, I'm so glad you asked this question because I know you're not the only one feeling this way, and by giving this question a voice you may also be helping other people feel less alone with this experience.
The short answer is no, it is absolutely not wrong.
I know how challenging and painful infertility can be, and it's understandable that you're having a hard time being excited for the people around you getting pregnant and having children. There can be so much grief when you're experiencing fertility challenges, and it's incredibly difficult to see those around you getting the thing you so desperately want, but don't yet have. These pregnancies or births are likely bringing up this grief and sadness.
With that being said, I also want to make a differentiation between a few things which may help:
- There may be a part of you that can be happy for those others, but to fully embody that happiness may not be possible right now. There's likely more present parts of you that are just feeling so much grief or sadness (or even anger or resentment) that it's hard to feel any true or lasting excitement for them. And that is okay. Try to allow yourself space to feel all your emotions, while knowing it doesn't make you a bad person or friend. It just means you're hurting.
- I also want to speak to this piece around shame. We feel shame when we believe our thoughts, feelings or actions will be judged or not accepted by others, or when they aren't aligned with who we think we are. Giving these feelings a voice and having them understood and accepted can be really helpful in releasing the shame. So whether it's with your husband, trusted friends or family, or a therapist or support group, please find a space where it is safe to share these feelings with others.
About the author: Yael Sherne is a licensed psychotherapist with a private practice in Los Angeles. She supports adults and couples through pivotal life transitions, helping them find healing and happiness within themselves and their most important relationships. She specializes in perinatal mental health, relationship issues, and parenting.
Explore her Frame profile here to learn more about her practice, review her resources, and to schedule a free intro call.
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