Am I a Fraud?

As I walk around now, especially when I’m with Baby Boy, I am hypersensitive to people looking at me. They often look at my belly, then to the stroller, back to my belly, and then to my face. Some smile politely. Some give me a “whoa, you’re really going to have your hands full,” look. And others give me “that” look. It makes me uncomfortable. It makes me feel like I’m being judged. And most of all, it makes me feel like I’m a fraud.

“I’m one of you!” I want to shout. “Do you know what I’ve been through?!? I deserve this.” It’s like I want, and need, to defend myself…to total strangers.

The thing is, I’ve been on the other side. I’ve been the one watching the “lucky” woman walk by with her gaggle of children, the all-American family, or the woman with the perfectly protruding belly. I’ve judged them for having the perfect life with perfect kids, even though I know that nobody’s life—or kids—are perfect. But in the throws of loss and grief, it sure feels like it, doesn’t it?

Our therapist used to say to us all of the time, you never know. You never know what their story is. You never know what their struggle is, or was. And it’s true. I thought I realized that before, but I’m finding out that I’m really only understanding it now.

Yes, we’ve been through hell and back, several times. Yes, we deserve this. But so do a lot of other women and couples out there. So while I’m so incredibly grateful for being where we are, I also find myself wondering, Why us? Why now? For lack of better words, I’ve found there’s a certain amount of guilt in being pregnant after loss. For me, there’s internal and external self-guilt. I’ll focus on the external now, but am working on a post about the internal too.

I have some guilt about being pregnant within this community, and it made me nervous to “come out” here. That seems weird, doesn’t it? I mean, that’s one of our hopes, isn’t it? At the same time, because I know what it means to be part of this incredible community of shared experiences and support, I know it is hard to hear that someone is pregnant—even one of our own. On some levels, I feel like I need to justify it to the outside world. Maybe it’s because of the reactions I’ve received in real life from people who can’t quite fathom that I’m pregnant for the sixth time. Or perhaps it’s me. Maybe what I’m really feeling is that I have to justify it to myself.

After going through everything we have, there came a point where I didn’t think I’d ever have a positive experience with pregnancy. And when we lost Sarah and Benjamin, I thought that was it. I was left with an immense sadness that my only experiences with pregnancy, labor and delivery were ones of extreme fear, pain, loss and grief. I won’t say that I accepted it; rather it was just what came to be as we carried on in our changed lives. When we brought home Baby Boy, I didn’t look at adoption as missing out, because I never felt like less than a Mother for not having carried him. Would I have loved to have had the experience? Of course. But he is my son. End of story. I just never thought I’d see another side, and now that I’m here, I’m not sure how to handle it.

I will always identify as a baby loss Mom. And I am also an adoptive Mom. But in my heart, I really just consider myself a Mom, with an evolving role. In the coming weeks, I need to figure out how to get out of my head, let go of the guilt, and embrace this next evolution. Any suggestions?

Did you feel like a fraud? What did you do to let go?

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13 thoughts on “Am I a Fraud?

  1. Just one: You’re not going to stop feeling this way. At least not as far as I know. 10 months in, and I’m still there. It’s just a question of embracing it. And if you figure out how to do that – I’d love it if you share the insight. 🙂

    • Deep down, I know you’re right. I am trying to embrace it, and some days—or moments—I’m succeeding. And many others, I’m not. At this point, I’m just trying to hang on to the times where I can and relish the naivety of it. Small victories, right? Will keep you posted if you do the same!

  2. I can’t give you any advice but as someone who’s lost a few pregnancies herself and is still trying, I just want to congratulate you from the bottom of my heart. It always fills me with hope when I hear the news that someone who has also struggled is now experiencing success. While different people will have different reactions to your news, please know that many people in the same boat as you have been will also delighted for you and that they will take some solace that maybe their day will come too. Thank you for carrying on. It helps me to carry on.

    • I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through multiple losses. Thank you for saying this. It means a lot to have the support, but also to know that my sharing is perhaps bringing some hope and meaning to others. My thoughts are with you.

  3. I definitely felt like a fraud! And even now, when my boy is almost 2 years old, I find myself vehemently telling how lucky we are to have him. As if I need to emphasize really just how lucky we are. Because, really, any parent is lucky.
    It does seem to get a bit easier though, but not always. Good luck!

    • Yes, I agree that any parent is lucky. And I get your thought of having to emphasize just how lucky we are after everything we’ve been through. I think it is that constant realization and feeling so grateful that shapes the way I parent, and how I’ve been getting through this pregnancy.

  4. Here from the round-up. Your reflection on all your experiences made me think. As for feeling like a fraud, yes I do sometimes. But in the sense that I-can’t-possibly-be-pregnant-and-it-can’t-possibly-be-OK and therefore I am engaged in an elaborate ruse to fool everybody. I don’t know how to let it go; I don’t think I’ve managed to do that. I just try to accept the many feelings and keep going.

    • I’m not sure there is a way to really let it go, as much as “simply” accept the variety feelings as you say. It is a matter of keeping going in whatever manner that means for each of us, I suppose. I hope it gets easier for you too.

  5. This post really moved me. Yes, I feel like a fraud… I am an adoptive mom and I remember after my daughter was born getting nasty looks (and some rude comments) about my physique (i.e. I had a flat stomach even though I had a brand new baby). Or when I was bottle feeding her and I would get judging looks from strangers. I wanted to scream that I had adopted her and for people to stop judging b/c they didn’t know all the facts.

    I’m feeling less like a fraud now that my daughter is growing up and I blend in with other toddler moms more easily. I think it is about us accepting our situation and not feeling bad or guilty about our turn of events.

    And you really are a mom above all, without any qualifying descriptors. To your babies, there will never be anyone else but you… A mom is a mom.

    Congratulations and best of luck!

    • It is crazy how quick people are to comment and make assumptions. I used to have fun with people when they would comment on how good I looked when seeing Baby Boy just weeks old. Yep, he’s my son, I’d tell them and walk away leaving them with their mouths open. I’m glad to hear that it has gotten easier for you, and like your thought about accepting our situation and not feeling bad or guilty about how things came about. Thanks for that reminder.

  6. Pingback: Guilty as Self-Charged | Will CarryOn

  7. I feel like a fraud because I lost my pregnancy after my lost pregnancy. I am not PAL. I am just loss now. I lost my rainbow. I have two healthy children and maybe that is all I get. I have often wondered if adopting a baby after loss counts as a rainbow. Can you be adopted and a rainbow baby? I think you can.

    I love hearing about pregnant moms in the loss community. It gives me hope. I am glad that someone might get that happy ending that is really the beginning of something great.

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