Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I'm a baby killer

I'm sorry to post this while so many of you are teetering on the precarious edge of pregnancy or dealing with a loss, but hey. Salt For Your Wounds is my middle name (and yes, I get a lot of annoying questions about that...). A bit ago I was complaining about the fact that my dear friend got pregnant again immediately after her first pregnancy ended in miscarriage. Well, she had an ultrasound, and no heartbeat was detected. I guess my selfish thoughts killed her baby. And those thoughts now seem quite mysterious. I mean, I was bummed because I was looking forward to commiserating with her when I see her at the conference in Germany, but now I can't even fathom why I wasn't just focusing all my energy on desperately hoping that she'd still be pregnant. And while there is no shortage of simple explanations, naturally my mind went a crazy academic place. So here you go. Feel free to stop reading at this point--I'm sure you've got some split ends that need attention.

In social psychology, there's this thing called optimal distinctiveness theory. The central idea is that humans have very strong needs both to belong to social groups, and to be distinct from others. We can manage these opposing desires by creating self-concepts that include ingroups (and therefore outgroups) that give us the right balance. The relevance to my friend's dead baby? Since I can't belong to the ingroup of mothers, and therefore my sense of belonging is threatened, I can hook up with a new ingroup, infertile women. This gives me the requisite sense of belonging, and also allows me to feel distinctive: I ain't like those boring baby makers. In many ways, this community is perfect! But the downside is that membership is in flux, and this can be painful. People arrive in this hellhole, and we bond over mutual suffering. We emphasize the good aspects of the identity (We're so compassionate! We're so strong!). We form subgroups so that we can have even finer-grained senses of belonging and uniqueness. But the reality is, we're all desperately trying to get the fuck out of this group, and terrified of being the last one left. So it makes sense that I felt abandoned when it looked like my friend was departing--it was a threat to my identity.

Yeah, yeah, some of you are all enlightened and shit and never have these nasty feelings. Fine. I'm too grumpy and sad to really give you the credit you deserve.

And...I should probably note that none of you need worry that I'm going to kill your baby too. I am happy to say I've felt nothing but joy and cautious hope for each of you. I can be all enlightened and shit, too.


  1. bunnies aren't baby killers!!! i've had quite a few of these thoughts myself, but luckily, my friends have managed to stay pregnant, so no guilt involved. i'm trying to be a nicer person all around though, so am trying to only think only happy thoughts re: friends and their pregnancies. it's hard hard hard work though and takes a seriously concerted effort on my part. which probably means i'm not *naturally* nice? hmm.

    i'm terrified of exactly what you said - of being the last one in this club. why can't we all just get pregnant and get out at the same time?????????? as each person gets pregnant, should i find another bloggie friend to replace them with?? bc the alternative is that ppl start to fade away and if i don't widen my circle, there will be no one left but me :o(

    i'm sooo sorry about your friend. i hope the next time is the charm for her :o)

  2. I think we all fear being the last one left. I remember when I first started this blog, I didn't want to be the bitch to get pregnant right away... but I believe I have now passed any danger of that long ago, and am firmly entrenched in the other end of the spectrum. I'll be known as Grandma Bloggy-Infertile before long...

    Of course the real issue is you friend, who I am super super sorry for. I think losing baby #2 has to be the most devastating. I'll be more ready for #3... Ugh! Give your friend a huge hug for me.

    And you aren't a bad person-- you didn't want her to have a miscarriage. You were only sad that she was leaving you behind :(.

  3. Very sad about your friend. How horrible for her.

    Not to feel guilty, bunny. I reckon we're all assailed by those thoughts, they are just a weird projection of our worst fears. It's what you do that counts, and I bet anything you like you were always very kind and supportive to your friend.

  4. I think that ALL of us have had those feelings. Being left behind is a very, very bad feeling and while we might intellectually wish someone all the best, there's a less enlightened side to each and everyone of us. I think you'd be hard pressed to find someone struggling with IF who hasn't felt selfishly about someone else's good luck, only to feel absolutely wretched when it turns into misfortune.

    I hadn't heard of that theory and find it fascinating. Even the biggest rebel or lone wolf still wants an occasional pack, even if it's a very small one.

  5. I'm sorry about your friend...how sad. I think everyone in the IF world fears being the last one left. It's so true the this community is so amazing, so bonded, so supportive. But we all want to get the hell out. It's such a strange "club" to be part of. Still, I'm ever so grateful to have you and the others with me on this journey.

  6. Oh no! Misfits has to ponder her conflicting desire for crazy friends and her fiercly independent need to be different. (Head gas a song "I don't want to be like everybody else" that I condsidered adding to you list. Also, very Ramones, but too misogynistic for my taste overall.) I really can't see you killing babies, so that's that. It's like the anti-shadenfreude word. Instead of feeling good about others misfortune, you were resentful of her good fortune and now are feeling some guilt.

    When my high school bff anounced that she was pregnant after we'd just spent hours crying on the phone together over our miscarriages, I felt that anti-shadenfreude. But, bitch went on to bear a perfectly good baby ANC now sends me mass email from her son's voice. "I am sleeping through the night and mommy and daddy are happy. I saw my first monkey at the zoo!" Gag me with a f@&$ing spoooon. Not that I wish I were in that place or would wish to swap places. But, definitely would like to have gad her sane company for a little while longer.

  7. Oh, that's so sad about your friend. I'm sorry you're feeling badly about it, but stop being so hard on yourself. I think I can safely say that everyone who is reading this has been guilty of thinking bad thoughts about our fertile friends.

    I was so happy to find a group of snarky, funny, and sympathetic IF women to bond with, and I always have mixed feelings of happy-that-you're-pregnant/sorry-to-see-you-go/wish-it-were-me when someone exits. I too am scared of being the last one standing, but I know in my heart that I'd prefer that over all of us being stuck in the same place as time drags on.

  8. So sorry to hear about your friend's second loss.

    There's that part of all of us that fears being left behind and a tiny part of all of us that wishes that our friend / blog fried / whoever didn't get pregnant. But, the bigger part is happy for them and wishes them a happy and healthy pregnancy...as you did. You didn't want her to miscarry again. You were just sad that she was moving on while you were stuck. Don't feel guilty at all for feeling what you felt. You're human. It's a natural reaction to the situation.

    I hope that your friend is okay, I really feel for her. If I can be of any help to either of you, plz let me know. You can always email me - ababy4al@gmail.com

  9. Such a sad story; I'm sorry. I know what you mean about "dark thoughts" (as I like to call them) but as my therapists often says, 1. Feelings aren't facts, and 2. They are just thoughts. As insane as this may sound, whenever I'd get super jealous of someone in the past, I'd typically get a horrible headache. I think I was punishing myself for even THINKING negatively but after I accepted that it's only human, the headaches got better. I don't know how helpful that is so I'll just add that grumpy and sad are MY middle names. :)

  10. Hm. If thoughts killed babies, then thoughts would also create babies, and, well, that doesn't happen either.

    (But all the other academic mumbo-jumbo makes sense, too.)

    I'm so sorry for your friend's loss.

  11. Well, you can't kill my baby if I don't have one, so there is always that.

    I love your academic posts. I always learn so much from them.

    And I am so, so sorry for your friend's loss. There are just no words.

  12. Very sorry for your friend's loss.

    Don't be so hard on yourself. Everyone wants out of this IF hellhole and after you've been here a long time it's hard to watch others move on out ahead of you.

  13. That just sucks for your friend. So sad and sorry for her loss.

    So we were just told (as in like 2.5 hours ago) the great news that some really good friends of ours are 15.5 weeks pregnant after 2 miscarriages. Am I happy? Sure. Am I jealous as a mofo? Sure. I would never wish another miscarriage on her but, quite frankly, I think they could have chosen a better time to share the news than over a game of golf with the husbands. Not to mention, I saw them at the obgyn office that is adjacent to our RE's office probably the day they found out. What the fuck? I know that we'll be the last ones, if at all, of our group because we basically are right now. We have 4 very close friends that are all in the midst of their first pregnancies. Annoying as fuck but can we do? Nothing but suck it up and keep drinking the wine. ;)

  14. Bunny, I love reading your blog. Just are just so damn smart and articulate. And I believe you'd be hard pressed to find someone here who hasn't wished ill upon the pregnant. No one's enlightened all the time.

  15. Bunny, I am really sorry for your friend :(. But I do understand exactly how you feel. I am extremely grateful for the IF community, but at the same time am terrified of never reaching the "other side" and and can't wait to get the hell out of this place.

  16. So sorry to hear about your friend. I have to say that I would have had the exact same reaction to her prego announcement too though. You worded it perfectly, we want to bond with those in a simlar situation as ourselves and feel neglected and abandoned when others leave the group before us. So our reaction is all about US and nothing about the person who is leaving the group with their good news. Although it's hard to get that message accross convincingly without sounding like a selfish bitch.
    But I don't believe you are a baby killer. Impossible.

  17. I'm sorry about your friend too. I think we probably all have had similar thoughts/feeling when someone else gets pregnant (at least I have at times). I hope you don't really feel like you did this or anything. =( You didn't. I also fear I'll be the last one. And it become more and more real every time someone else gets pregnant. Sucks!!!!!!

  18. Of course you know this wasn't your fault and that you are not to blame for your natural feelings. I know you'll be supportive and kind to this person because you have an understanding of her pain that others don't, and that's what's most important.

    The last kid in the pool feeling sucks royally, in life or on line. I'd like the lifeguard to come get me out now.

  19. If you're a baby-killer then I'm a step-father killer and we aren't.

    Poor friend, I'd not want to be in her shoes even though I don't like mine. And I really really don't like mine and I wish they were shoes from a different Glee Club - one with more glee and less glum.

    I don't want to be the last member either...so as you can see, I sympathise. Completely.

  20. Ummm, I think about this a lot. I have all of these blog and email buddies who started after me and are finished before me. Of course it is wonderful that REs across the country are doing their jobs and these wonderful women are achieving their dreams. But as the one left behind...it royally sucks/hurts/creates new fears/etc etc etc. So yeah. I hear you. We all want to get to the other side. We all want each other to. But it can't happen simultaneously, and that's a bitter pill of reality to endure day in and day out....or especially when you're the one stuck on the wrong side.