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Monocycle: Episode 37, Uterus Envy
09.16.16

In partnership with Squarespace.

Have you ever felt that terrible, nauseating pit in your stomach? It makes doing anything other than focusing on the pit feel impossible. I used to get it every time I found out my ex-boyfriend was dating someone new. Recently, I started getting it every time I found out that someone is pregnant. I never knew how to process the pit as anything other than heartbreak but I’m starting to realize that it’s more than that — it’s envy, so in this week’s episode, we unpack that like it’s a carry-on suitcase full of grenades.

Meet you in the comments in 20.

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Monocycle is edited by Nicholas Quazzy Alexander; Logo illustration by Kelly Shami; Photograph by Dimitrios Kambouris via Getty Images.

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  • Natalie Bruce

    This speaks to my heart. I too have been hoping and trying and failing to get pregnant. So many of my friends have been announcing pregnancies or giving birth lately, and I want to feel so happy for them but I haven’t. Thank you for talking about this so openly, and for sharing how you’re dealing with the heartbreak of not getting something you want with your whole soul. “My wanting something doesn’t detract from the fact that somebody else has it” is GOLD. It can be so hard to remember that but I will do my best. ❤️

  • kea

    Leandra, a tennis buddy of mine has had seven miscarriages (another topic no one talks about) for the last four years and she just got pregnant. It’s going to happen for you. Hang in there.

  • lori

    Thank you so much for doing these podcasts. I love your outlook. I love hearing these raw emotions because they are so real and so honest. And your envy of seemingly everyone getting pregnant is exactly how I feel lately, especially today. I was totally convinced I was pregnant the past few days until today. I either got my period way early or implantation did not work. Either way, it is a bummer. I do blame part of it on my mental wellness right now and my ability to be the happiest version of myself. I think being content and positive really does affect how your body acts. Thank you for reminding me of that.
    P.S. I was told I was too skinny and exercised too much before I got pregnant with my first child (my hormone levels were wacky). I stopped going to the gym and gained 10 pounds by eating a ton of raw cheesecake from juice press. I also got acupuncture to get my body ready to grow a child. It happened for me. It will happen to me again. It will also happen for you. Your outlook really is everything.

  • Stephanie

    Your feelings are totally normal, at least I felt the same way you did as I was struggling through infertility. With regards to your comment of getting what you want and working for it, I agree you should work for what you want, but sometimes what you get isn’t exactly what you envisioned in the first place. At least that’s what happened for me (and I DEFINITELY worked very hard to build a family). Oddly, I found the words of Mick Jagger to be the most comforting: You can’t always get what you want
    But if you try sometimes you might find
    You get what you need

  • Leandra,
    my wonderful cousin/sis in law was in exactly your spot 3 years ago. They tried and tried for years from fertility treatments to country remedies, they didn’t tell the family and dealt very outrageously with the many busybody aunts, random friends and general strangers.

    They gave up…looked at adoption, in fact had gotten to the point of having talks around not starting a family and being resigned to a group of two for the rest of their lives.Then, just like that she got pregnant, and now 3 years later there’s a happy, spunky kid.

    Whatever happens and where ever your journey takes you, your conversations and openness have kept so many others going. You’re one amazing woman. What a lucky parents to have you as a daughter, what a lucky husband to have you as a wife, most importantly how lucky are people for knowing you both together.

  • You got this, Leandra. Coupla small Cohens will be yours to raise and love — it is just a matter of time.

  • Mallory Harmon

    I really admire how open and honest you are about your emotions and everything that you are going through with trying to become pregnant. I can’t say that I know what you’re dealing with as far as pregnancy, but I do know how it feels like to want to achieve a certain goal so badly. You feel it with every ounce of your being, and when there is a set back, it feels so much bigger than just a set back. I know this will happen for you, and I look forward to listening to your podcast and hearing that you are pregnant. Keep your head up, Leandra! You got this.

  • Samantha K.

    I can’t agree with you more; it really is a symptom of this whole process that you’re experiencing, and there is nothing to apologize for. My best friend and I are basically going through the same thing; we got married a month apart, and now we’ve both been trying to get pregnant since December last year. (We haven’t planned things in this way.) It’s nice being able to share everything with someone who has such an intimate and unbelievably time sensitive understanding of what I’m going through; not only that, but we’ve known one another since we were 14! She is my rock, and I, hers. So of course, I can’t help but wonder what sort of reaction I would have if she got pregnant, or what sort of reaction I would receive if I got pregnant. There’s a silly part of me (and I’m sure this goes for her, as well) that really wishes it happens to us at the same time. Not just so we can share another crazy, life changing common experience, but so that no one is “left behind”. I know it won’t happen like this, and one of us will likely be left feeling envious. I just hope that we can keep the envy and the guilt to a minimum…

  • Ashley

    I had a miscarriage 3 weeks ago (first pregnancy) and am still reeling from it. I realize that it’s not the exact situation you’re experiencing, but I 100% identify with the uterus envy, or even small child envy in my case. I feel like a horrible person for feeling that way, so it’s good to know I’m not alone. Thank you for being so open about a topic that no one seems to want to discuss. Sending positive energy your way and being a little kinder to myself after listening to this. We will both be moms soon, I know it.

  • Mariana

    I am not very comfortable with what your doctor told you, that one of the reasons your not getting pregnant is because you are “directly accountable for the happenings of your own business”, that only puts more pressure and guilt in your shoulders. I get that stress and responsibility can get in the way of pregnancy, but that shouldn’t be used just because they can’t find an organic cause to your difficulty of getting pregnant. Every body/organism works in its own way and yours is only a bit lazy, believe it.
    I too, believe, as you, that we get what we want if we try hard, but sometimes it is just not when we want. I believe that sooner or later your body is going to start bringing to the world little Leandras and little Abies 🙂 but, until then, know that you already started a family, this one and we are truly rooting for you, as a true family do.

  • rem

    Ruth Crilly of a model recommends discussed her own difficulties and then finally getting pregnant after getting into Chinese medicine. you should take a look at her stuff..

    http://www.amodelrecommends.com/2015/06/05/the-john-tsagaris-clinic-and-my-fertility-journey/

  • Katie Joy Rosati

    you said it Leandra! I have had multiple miscarriages and one of my closest friends (and business partner) even fell pregnant after her husband had a vasectomy. I can have severe envy when i find out a friend “casually” falls pregnant, sometimes bitterness is a sister emotion in these scenarios too. Sending all my most fertile wishes from NZ to you . There are sooooo many of us! WTF huh! xxx

  • Gemma Fox

    Thank you so much for creating these podcasts and sharing your experiences. I first started listening to them a few weeks ago, and I cannot tell you how much of a comfort they have been to me. My wife and I decided we would start trying for a baby shortly after getting married 18 months ago. As a same-sex couple, we knew from the outset that this would not be an easy journey, but we both felt that it was one well-worth taking. At our first appointment with the fertility clinic, we found out I have the comparative fertility of a heavy smoker in her forties (At the time, I’d just turned 27, and am a fit and healthy non-smoker). The shock was immense. No-one talks about infertility amongst the young; infertility is something that’s reserved for women in their late thirties and forties, right? So firstly, thank you for opening up this discussion. Fertility problems affect people of all ages, and hearing about people of a similar age, going through a similar struggle, has made me feel less isolated, less worthless, less of a failure.

    After several more trips to the clinic, and several more bumps (ugh) in the road, we decided that we would use my wife’s eggs and I would carry the child. My wife subsequently had 20 eggs harvested and fertilised with donor sperm, eventually leaving us with 10 good-quality blastocysts (5 day-old embryos) ready for implantation. The first didn’t take. The second did. Disbelief; double, triple, quadruple-checking; elation. And then a miscarriage at 7 weeks. The horror as I watched an obstetrician pull the remains of my child from my uterus with her hands will never leave me. I was numb for 2 weeks. And then my sister-in-law phoned to announce she was 3 months pregnant. I threw my wife out of the flat so I could scream and cry down the phone to my Mum. All of my anger, frustration, disappointment and desperate sadness came flying out in a rage of envy. Every terrible emotion I had been suppressing built up into a fire-ball that manifested itself in her. All I could think was how could she do this to me? She’s heterosexual, she can get pregnant naturally – no fertility clinics, no hormones, no extortionate fees – shouldn’t it be me that catches a break? I blamed her for something she had and I didn’t. I blamed her for having a baby that survived, when mine didn’t. I wished it had been her, and not me, that had miscarried. I eventually went to see a fertility counsellor, as I couldn’t bear the overwhelming feelings of envy and bitterness I felt towards her – a woman I had previously loved as if she was my own sister – anymore. The counsellor reminded me that, as women going through fertility treatment, we are not at a level of normal functioning. We have huge amounts of hormones (whether natural, or drug-induced) flying around our bodies; we are trying to deal with one of the most difficult things a person can experience (and over which we have very little control), whilst trying to carry on with our lives. And we have a longing for something that happens every day, all the time, but not necessarily for us. She reminded me to be kind to myself, to accept that I wouldn’t feel ‘normal’, that envy is common enough even when the stakes aren’t anywhere near as high as this. And that that is OK. Adding guilt to the mix helps no-one.

    Next week, we start our third round of treatment. Next month, I may well be pregnant. I hope then that I can smile at pregnant women on the tube, rather than glare or burst into tears. I hope I can finally phone my sister-in-law and offer the congratulations that she deserves, but that I haven’t yet had the strength to offer her. I have so much hope for all of us.

    To everyone here who is struggling, I wish you strength, resilience and, most importantly, I wish you luck.

  • Basil

    It took me 2.5 years, multiple hormone treatments, rounds of IUI and finally a successful IVF to get pregnant. infertility was the worst thing that I ever experienced. It felt like I was working really hard and doing everything I could to pass an exam, only to fail every time for no reason and then when you find out someone’s pregnant – so hard.
    But – you never know what someone else has gone though. We told very few people what we were going through because it was just too painful and I don’t think it’s something you an really comprehend unless you’ve been through it yourself

    • Basil

      But on the positive front – I had read somewhere that once you hold that baby in your arms, all that pain just disappears and it’s so true! I hope for you that ultimately you’ll be successful and you’ll get that moment of holding your precious child

  • Freeley

    Yes, I’ve felt that feeling. I’ve felt it sitting at my work desk, overhearing two colleagues discuss their pregnancies, as tears well in my eyes, as my world spins and I can’t focus … so I run to the bathroom and hide in a cubicle until I can get my shit together enough to face the world again. I do think that feeling is a normal feeling. My only advice is to wait for the shift in the universe. There will be a day some day soon when the universe shifts for you. It might be because you get pregnant, but it might be a shift of a different sort altogether. But it will come, and you will turn a corner, and things will be brighter. Just hang in there.

  • I know your pain, and you do not need to feel guilty for the way you react when you hear the news of someone else getting pregnant. You are allowed to have breakdown’s along the way. Keep staying positive and believing in your body and loving yourself no matter how long it takes! Your body will love you back for it one day.

  • Delaney

    Hi Leandra! In my experience with manifesting (which has totally worked), the most crucial part is letting go. The worst thing you can do is become obsessed with what you want. You have to positively focus on it, present it as if it has already happened, and then let it go completely. I know it’s the last thing that you may feel like is possible, but I really think that is the part that makes it happen. Thank you thank you for being so real about this, I’m hoping for the best for you!!

  • sarah

    Thank you!! GESH I feel like such a terrible person every time I hear news. I have done IVF twice and my friend who just did once is totally prego. Im so happy for her but I can’t stop feeling the feels. I promise I’m good with not being able to have a kid and adoption is great and I will be a mom in 1-3 years. But shit. I didn’t want to be the person who can’t have kids. Thanks for sharing your story!

  • Susanne Repetto

    Hi Leander! Thank you for being so open and honest about how you feel and what you’re going through. I went through IVF as well and felt exactly as you do. My mistake was that I didn’t talk to people about what I was going through and what I was feeling. I hope you know, regardless of what medical professionals might tell you, is that there’s some things you just can’t control. We had one great round, my body happened to change itself for some reason and everything fell into place. (If it helps, we also did a frozen cycle a few months after the retrieval to let my body get rid of all the junk they pump into you) I was very hard on myself and very envious of the pregnancies and people with children around me. But let provide a word of caution – it will happen, just keep your wits about you! Here’s why… So we always did two embyos and it never worked. We had one rear month and took a break for me to get back to a more normal healthy body and then decided to transfer 3 embryos… We’ll, when IVF works, it really works! We have 4 year old triplets and feel very blessed. It’s a life transformed but it was a long road to get here. So my round about point is just don’t get too anxious and aggressive with your plan. We knew we were going to be okay with triplets but the need to get you our goal definitely influenced that decision. Not that were not happy, but let’s face it, triplets are triplets. Know what I mean? I know it does that feel like like you’ll ever be in that position but I promise you will. Literally at least 10 of my friends went through IVF and everyone got pregnant. Some took longer than others but it works eventually. Just keep on keepin’ on!!

  • julie bell

    I think youre really trying to fucking hard ! you need to relax with the program and go with the flow ! Are you and your husband even enjoying a healthy sex life ?? I just feel youre too high strung and too anxious about the whole thing – just let it go and it might actually come to you !

  • Markky

    Leandra HANG IN THERE!! I know it seems like miracles and babies are for everybody else when it’s just not happening for you. But 5 rounds of IVF with 2 different egg donors I now have a 2 year old baby. You just have to not give up and stick to your plan. Ignore people who say you’re focusing on it too much (easy for them to say) or that there are other things in life besides being a mom (which is true but feels like a knife to the soul when you’re trying and failing to get pregnant). It will happen for you, I just know it.

  • Catherine

    This happened to me as well… I just want to say that I don’t think it’s about envy as such… it’s not that you are not happy about the other person’s happiness but, rather, that it makes you sad that you can’t have what they are happy about! You are still young and healthy and have a lot of options! I hope that you are lucky and send you lots of love XXX

  • Ilayda

    Hang in there Leandra. Little Cohen-Medine babies are on their way. I can feel it! 🙂

  • Jenny

    I’ve had two miscarriages since last December and I can totally relate to that crushing feeling when another friend or colleague falls pregnant so easily, or you see bumps on the street (like you say Leandra, they seem to be EVERYWHERE). I would also feel like I was coping well only for one more announcement to shake my foundations again. I’ve been going to acupuncture for fertility and I’ve found it amazing. It helps me feel balanced and relaxed, maybe it might help you too. I’m trying to relax now and believe that my next pregnancy is the one, but it’s hard. Pregnancy always seemed like it would be straightforward and easy, that’s how it looked and you never think you’ll be the one who struggles, but I guess you just never realise what people are going through. Sending you and anyone else who’s trying lots of positivity.

  • A

    You are essentially going through hell. But you are surviving hell, every day you wake up, put your feet on the ground and live your life.
    Keep fighting the fight!

  • Lizzie

    Girl, I get it. It seems like every damn lady I meet is pregnant, let alone celebrities. I read that Olivia Wilde is having a baby girl the other day, and it depressed me immensely even though I don’t know Olivia Wilde (I generally quite like her) and it has 100% no effect on my uterus. Rationally, I know all this, but living it? Hard stuff. Hang in there- I love your monocycle podcast- thanks for being so open!

  • wi

    Yeah I also tend to think you’re way, way, way too thin to be pregnant tbh there’s no mystery to me…

  • Katie

    Uterus envy is real!! I just had it big time when some couples (yes, couples) we’re friends with who all had a kid within months of each other have all had all just started trying for their second. It felt like they’ll probably have their second while we’re still in the process of trying to get one, and it made me want to rip my hair out and run away in fits of hysteria! Like, no, I can’t handle hearing you’re about to have another one! Of course I know it’s wonderful for them and I wish them nothing but happiness and a healthy pregnancy, but man oh man it stings. Damn envy monster.

    I really appreciate these podcasts and keep hoping you’ll start a separate series dedicated to woman and their stories of achieving motherhood. Because of how you’ve been able to talk about your experience, I feel like I own my story too and that I can challenge the perception/feelings of shame of not being able to get pregnant yet. Also by talking about it, it normalizes it in a way. We’re all in this together. Some of us just have a steeper mountain to climb to reach that baby <3

  • Tiffany Rey

    Yes, I too did not magically get pregnant overnight as I had always imagined. Once, a year had passed my OBGYN said I would need to get tested and instead of being tested I decided to just completely stop trying (you know the whole timing fertility bit). And I also decided I would not allow myself to feel envy and to overcome the envy I literally visited ever family member or friend who recently had a baby and held each baby with joy in my heart, knowing I too would be a Mom someday. I also meditated every single day that month I stopped trying – searching for happiness not relient on things or achievements and I swear to you that month is when I became pregnant! Releasing the want and envy (disguised as envy but truly sadness), as hard as it may seem to do, is what worked for me. And you will be a Mom in your own divine timing. <3

  • Michelle Sapanaro Agnew

    I feel for you, sweetie. After 6 years of infertility challenges, I empathize with what you’re going through. Everyone you know gets pregnant and you wonder why the heck it isn’t you. You’re mad. You’re sad. You’re determined. You’re exhausted. You’re depressed. I will tell you that everyone who is challenged with infertility will learn a lot about themselves and will come out on the other side. That can include finally having a baby or discovering that maybe you are meant for a different path. No one really talks about the latter, but I want to tell you that no matter what happens you will be ok. I didn’t end up having a baby, but I have a very wonderful life none-the-less. You’re a beautiful and influential woman and in the end this will not define you. Stay strong and faithful knowing that this experience will make you a better person no matter what. All my love. Xo

  • Kristin

    It was hard to listen to this. Took me back to a painful place that is now a blur. All I can tell you is that there is another side to this. Regardless of how you get there, it will be perfect – and possibly a little sweeter because of the effort it took to get there. And you’ll move beyond the pain of infertility and on with your life. Keep plugging. Sending hugs! This will all be worth it.

  • Julia

    I hope and believe you’ll get pregnant soon. I went through a similar thing watching all my friends get engaged and wishing my boyfriend would propose. But also, there’s nothing wrong with apologizing. There seems to be a trend of people saying, “I’m me and I’m not perfect, I’m not gonna apologize for it”. Nobody’s perfect, and we don’t have to feel guilty for being imperfect or feeling envious, but if you hurt or let down a friend, I think it shows grace to be able to say “Hey, I’m sorry I got weird with you the other day. I’m just jealous”.

  • Stefany Rachel Fortin

    I got pregnant easily, but 10 days ago, I found out my baby was stillborn at 30 weeks. While I am in the thick of thinking life is unfair, cruel and painful, I also know for a fact that it is beauiful and that things change and get easier over time. The night after I delivered my dead baby I had a dream about you, Leandra. You were swimming with a group of giant white whales. The morning after, my mom told me she had a whale following her during her jog along the water (she lives in the neck of the woods Eastern Quebec, she wasn’t on drugs). There may be nothing to make of it, but I want you to know that most of us are fighting personal battles, and that through them, we are interconnected. Kisses and hugs to all of you xo

    • Leandra Medine

      Thank you for sharing this, Stefany.

  • HollyO

    Thank you for sharing this, Leandra. I, too, struggled with infertility and these emotions. Ultimately, I never got pregnant and we decided to adopt. While it wasn’t easy for me to abandon the idea of having my own uterus’ babies, I now have 2 healthy children that, genetically speaking, are far better than I could have produced. Ha!

    As you expressed, know what you want and fight for it. If you want a family, you’ll have one. It may not happen in the way or in the time you thought it would, but it will happen. Truly beautiful things came from that struggle for me, personally, and they will for you too. Love to you!

  • Emily

    Two months ago I made the heartbreaking choice with my husband to terminate a much-wanted and tried-for pregnancy at 13 weeks because of a medical diagnosis. It was our first baby. Your honest emotions resonated with me when we were trying (even though it was just a few months) and it resonates with me now as I’m struggling to get through this. Thank you so much for sharing this with the world because it’s so important to talk about and it means SO MUCH to many of us feeling alone. There is sorrow from all angles that comes with this territory, what we all thought was supposed to be pure joy, and much of it silent/invisible for those of us in the pre-parenthood limbo. Together with you on this and all for the positive vibes. xx