Why do I feel so jealous?
Women often worry that their fertility problems are changing their personalities
It’s never easy if a friend, relative or colleague gets pregnant when you are trying to conceive. Of course, you want to be happy for them but at the same time, you can’t help the feelings of jealousy bubbling under the surface. Why aren’t you pregnant? Why does it feel so unfair?
You may want to feel nothing but happiness for them and you may manage to react in the way that you feel you ought to, smiling and offering your congratulations. Inside, however, you may be longing to get away and to be alone with the tears and bitterness that you can feel welling up.
It’s not just pregnancy announcements that can make you feel that way. It may be seeing a group of your friends with their toddlers, it may be a visit to see a relative’s newborn baby, it may be a dinner party where everyone else is talking about their children – or it may just be seeing a pregnant woman at the bus stop. It isn’t always logical, and if jealousy isn’t an emotion you are used to, it can be quite shocking when you find yourself experiencing a sudden spurt of envy.
I don’t want to feel this way
Women often worry that their fertility problems are changing their personalities when these feelings seem to dominate. You may start to fear that you are becoming a bitter and angry person which isn’t how you have ever seen yourself before. In this situation, you may react by trying to suppress the feelings you don’t like, and you will soon realise quite how difficult that is. These feelings are part of your emotional response to what you are experiencing, and won’t disappear just because you try to force them out. Anger and jealousy are a very natural response to fertility problems. Feeling this way is not a sign that your personality has changed irreversibly for the worse, but is rather an expression of the pain of going through such a challenging time.
Accepting that these feelings are valid and normal is a first step to helping yourself. It may also help if you can break down the feelings. If a friend is pregnant, you may feel jealous and angry with her – in reality, it isn’t the person that your feelings are about, but her pregnancy.
Being kind to yourself is important too. Don’t go to an event which you know is going to be baby-focused if it will be difficult, and don’t chastise yourself for not being able to cope with it. You aren’t being rude or unkind to other people, you are protecting yourself. Do think about counselling if you are struggling with your feelings too, as having a chunk of time set aside to talk honestly and openly to someone who is outside your circle can be really beneficial.
Perhaps the most useful thing you can do for yourself is to be in touch with other people who are experiencing fertility problems. If you can access a support group this is ideal, as talking to other people will soon help you to see that you are not turning into an unkind, bitter person. In fact, most others who are in the same situation feel exactly the same way. Just reading some of the posts on an online fertility forum will help you to appreciate that other people have very similar confused feelings about pregnancy announcements and babies. Fertility problems are isolating, and if you can start to build yourself a support network you will find it can make all the difference to be able to gain strength from those around you.
Writer and journalist
Kate Brian is a journalist, writer and author of four books on motherhood and fertility, including The Complete Guide to IVF. Kate started writing about the patient perspective on infertility after having IVF herself.
Currently, she contributes to various types of media as an expert on fertility and writes her own blog, where she gives all the latest news and views on fertility issues, as well as useful advice and links for anyone trying to have a baby.