The Pretender

I feel like an impostor.

I sat down to breakfast with two friends today so we could plan a baby shower.  My baby shower.

Baby showers aren’t for people like me.  They’re for the fertiles, those women who take for granted, even while their baby is still in the womb, that their child will be born, complication-free, healthy and safe into their arms.  Just like they took for granted that they could “try” to become pregnant with said child anytime they wanted, on their own schedule, and with no more effort than enticing their husbands into bed a few times during what they, most likely, guessed was the right time of the month.

It was…weird.  First of all, it feels a bit strange to ask people to spend money on me/us/baby.  I had a hard time with this when coming up with a wedding registry, too.  At the same time, we need all the help we can get, given our current (and future) financial situation of getting by on one income.  It also feels weird to have people so excited about the fact that I’m pregnant.  One of my friends had her baby with her, and it was non-stop attention from other people in the restaurant.  It makes me uncomfortable to be the center of attention, most of the time, and I know it’s only going to get worse.

Second of all, I’m totally blown away that these particular friends are the ones who offered to throw me a shower in the first place.  I’ve written about them before.  I’m not much of a social butterfly anyway, and even though we live in the same city, I rarely see them.  G was the last person I would have expected to offer such a gesture, and I’m so grateful and humbled that she did.

I’m glad neither of them made a big deal out of staring at or trying to touch my belly.  I had considered this possibility before meeting them at the restaurant, and it occurred to me that, had I been sitting there, pre-pregnancy, watching that kind of scene, I would have been incredibly hurt and jealous.  And I wouldn’t want to inflict that on anyone else.

Then there were the conversations that ensued.  I have no idea how to plan a baby shower, but I felt sort of taken out of the whole process.  They both had plenty of ideas of their own, and I tried to be as easy-going as possible, since, on most of the details, I really don’t care one way or the other.  On the other hand, it’s supposed to be my shower.  And when it comes to details like receiving gifts I’ve registered for versus gift cards I may or may not be able to use once we get to Canada, I do have an opinion.  There were a lot of “If I were you…” comments, coming from the two experienced mothers sitting at the table with me.  And it just made me feel like an outsider all over again.  I’ve never done this before.  I don’t have children (yet).  How could I possibly be expected to have an opinion.  Or the right opinion.

Yesterday, I went shopping for maternity clothes.  I was disappointed because Ot.her Mot.hers, contrary to the image the name elicits, had very little selection of maternity clothes available.  And they all seemed to be made for short women.  I’m 5′ 10″.  Most things I tried on would, no doubt, look like crop tops in a matter of weeks.  I did find a few things, but again, felt like a total poser when I was asked at the register whether or not I had store credit.  Um, I don’t have kids, and this is my first pregnancy.  What could I have possibly brought in that would have been of any value in this place?

I don’t belong here.

It was a fleeting moment.  My simple “no” was sufficient to continue the check-out process.  But just being in the store, surrounded by women with their babies and children in tow, made me feel out of place.

Does this ever get better?  Am I ever going to feel like a normal pregnant woman?  A normal mother?  When people ask if I’m pregnant, I become self-conscious.  I feel myself blushing, as if this secret I’ve been keeping was stolen from someone more deserving.

I wish I could turn that part of my brain off.  I wish I could tie a sign around my neck that clearly states, after all we’ve been through, that I deserve to be here.  I want more than anything, when someone asks if I’m pregnant, to just smile and say, “yes.”

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9 thoughts on “The Pretender

  1. I’ve been here. I understand. And really, I often *still* feel this way. Having to work so hard for both my babies makes me feel different from all the other mothers. Which is both a curse and a blessing. But I think at some point, you get used to it. You get used to feeling a little out of place. You accept it. Maybe even embrace it. I hope it gets easier for you. And I’m so happy you’re at a point where you can start to plan a shower!!!

  2. Can I just say first of all that I am so happy that you can plan ar shower!? That’s huge, friend! Secondly, I didn’t have a shower so I can’t sympathize with those exact feelings but I do know what it’s like to feel a little out of place. Childbirth classes are a minefield of awkwardness when you’ve been through what we have. Even now that Turkey is here, I still feel a little weird. I guess it will fade with time but for now I’m just trying to embrace every second and worry less about fitting in.

  3. I think I would feel the same way but try to just embrace it and enjoy the experience. Try not to let your friends make you feel that way. Just remember that it’s the way we women show that we care, by giving (sometimes unsolicited) advice. I mean, just look what we are all doing right now in response to your post…giving advice! 🙂 You may never feel like you are part of the club, but you are! And you’ve earned your membership more than the average mom-to-be.

  4. I tried for 3 years, had first iui work and I never felt normal whilst pregnant. My boy is almost 6 months and I think I’m starting to feel like a normal mum now, not an infertile imposter. I still break down at other pregnancy announcements but I have my boy???? No sense!

  5. I don’t know what’s “normal”, but I know that even at 37 weeks, I sometimes feel like it can’t be possible that I’m going to be a mom. I still feel different than other moms — in that I think my infertility and loss has jaded me… or made me less idealistic? I don’t know exactly. Someone mentioned pre-natal classes being a minefield — we were lucky b/c our class was small with only two other couples, but they both had these perfect births all planned and I was like “yeah, my birth plan is get him out alive”.

    Enjoy what you can. Take each milestone as it comes. I’m sure there will always be a part of us that feels different — because we are. IVF babies have a different story than most.

  6. I know I’d be like this too. But maybe you aren’t supposed to feel like a “normal” pregnant lady, and that might not be a bad thing. You aren’t taking it for granted because of how hard you fought to be here. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t let yourself enjoy “normal” pregnant lady things too!

  7. I could have written this. I had convinced myself i would never get pregnant so i couldn’t wrap my head around this new reality. I totally felt like a fake when people would ask me about my pregnancy. I had a really hard time just talking about it – especialy with strangers. I always felt awkward or out of place when I was doing things like registering or shopping for baby furniture. And a baby shower felt like an out of body experience. It’s getting better, but I still feel like that now. Filing out paperwork at the pediatrician? It felt so weird to write mother on the line that said “relationship to patient”. I’m definitely not used to people thinking of me as a mother. I’m not used to thinking of myself as a mother. I think I might always feel just a little bit different than the other moms.

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