Coping with envy when you're infertile or adopting

Ahhh, envy–that feeling in the pit of our stomach when we hear that:

–our sister is pregnant–again.

–our online friend who just finished her adoption profile has already had a match.

–our only friend who was also having trouble getting pregnant, is now pregnant, leaving us all alone.

The feeling that makes us what to scream at the top of our lungs or say something that we will regret.

I was catching up on some of the blogs I follow this week and ran across a passage that rang crystal clear from Shayla at Wegen Tales, who blogs about her struggles to conceive after five miscarriages.   She was talking about the sermon at her church on Mother’s Day when her minister challenged those in the congregation who were feeling bitter/sad/left-out on this day to be happy and excited for those who ARE in the thralls of happy motherhood.

Honestly, as I read, my first thought was “Pretty harsh. What a way to crush spirits.”, but then Shayla turned it around.

That sermon was the best thing I could have heard yesterday.  It was exactly what I needed to hear, not sugar coated to make me feel better about my situation, but like a cattle prod pushing me to be the better version of me while I wait.  Do you know how much I hate being the girl that cries when my friends announce they are pregnant?  I hate that my friends have to tread lightly around me when they are pregnant; trying everything they can to not upset me.  They are so sweet to be patient and sensitive to my feelings, but I want so badly to be overjoyed for them and excited for their great news!  I want the attention off of me and what I am feeling.  I want to be “normal” again.  I want to throw the baby showers and help decorate their nurseries.  As hard as it is for me to hear their good news, I want so desperately to celebrate with them!  God is working on enlarging my heart, and I am thankful for it.

Wow! I wasn’t going there.

Envy in Infertility and Adoption

It’s not just the infertile or those who suffer through miscarriage after miscarriage, that suffer the green sting of envy.  Recently I’ve heard all the following:

  • A family hoping to adopt a specific child from foster care, finding out that another family was chosen for this child.
  • A woman whose husband strongly objects to using donor egg or donated embryos finding out that a friend in her support group who had been struggling for the same number of years, was finally pregnant from donor egg.
  • A family struggling with attachment issues post adoption while an internet friend who adopted a similar aged child at a similar time was blogging about the intensity of their love and depth of their bonding.
  • A woman who adopted from China, looking around the dining room that first day at all the other families in their travel group whose new child was sitting on their laps and gracing them with small smiles, while her own little cherub was screaming and rejecting all attempts at comfort.
  • A mom of a “spirited child” (known in our family as a “high maintenance” child), and for the record this was a child by birth, resenting that doing every single thing with this child took so much effort, while her sister’s child, adopted at age 4 and by all rights the one who should be a pain in the ___, was so easy to handle.

Oh yes, each and every one of us, if we’re being honest, can say we’ve been attacked by the green eyed monster on occasion. And most of us feel it most intensely in the areas of life that we care most about–parenthood being tops on many of our lists.

Words to Live By

I loved this quote shared in the comments to Shayla’s blog by Latter-Day Saints minister Jeffrey R. Holland:

“Brothers and sisters, there are going to be times in our lives when someone else gets an unexpected blessing or receives some special recognition. May I plead with us not to be hurt—and certainly not to feel envious—when good fortune comes to another person? We are not diminished when someone else is added upon. We are not in a race against each other to see who is the wealthiest or the most talented or the most beautiful or even the most blessed. The race we are really in is the race against sin, and surely envy is one of the most universal of those.

Furthermore, envy is a mistake that just keeps on giving. Obviously we suffer a little when some misfortune befalls us, but envy requires us to suffer all good fortune that befalls everyone we know! What a bright prospect that is—downing another quart of pickle juice every time anyone around you has a happy moment!”–Jeffrey R. Holland

Words to live by regardless of your religious beliefs!

Other Creating a Family resources you will enjoy:

First published in 2012; Updated in 2016
Image credit: Ultra999