Couple things. First, I don’t like it when people are uncomfortable around me. I’m a people pleaser to a fault and knowing that I’m making someone uncomfortable REALLY bothers me. Second, I’ve been getting a LOT of validation lately in sharing my “story” with infertility. When I don’t want to talk about it, someone asks. When I’m feeling private in my suffering, we have a weekend long camp about being honest with our struggles. When I’m pretending everything is fine, my hurt shows itself without my permission.
The past 6 months have been the hardest yet regarding my infertility. I have more hard days than easy days – a reversal of the previous couple years’ track record in which I had only a hand full of bad days all year. It’s starting to affect other areas of my life in several ways, ways I can’t understand and fix on my own. It’s alienating me from relationships that I really care about. It makes me feel angry, sad, pitiful, lonely, victimized, guilty, hopeless, annoyed, and other terrible things.
In a nutshell, it’s really sucky.
But this blog post isn’t about dealing with infertility on a personal level, though I hope those of you who are experiencing that pain can find some comfort in knowing you’re not alone; instead, this is a blog post about dealing with friends and family who are infertile.
So friends and family, this is for you:
I don’t want to be the person that you’re afraid to tell that you’re pregnant. I don’t want that for you, and I sure as heck don’t want that for myself. I know it robs some of the thrill from you to worry about the person who might be sad about your exciting news. But the honest, hard-to-acknowledge truth of it is, sometimes I am that person. I’m SO excited for you that you’re pregnant. Really! But also, it’s a reminder to me that I am not. Please know that I will share in your excitement as much as I possibly can. I will buy you gifts and love that pregnancy right along side you. I might have a moment of pain in the midst of your excitement, but please know it’s not your fault. It’s not my fault. It’s just the reality of our differences. Don’t be afraid to have joy around me.
I love to hear stories about your babies and your kids. The funny things they say and how awesome they are (and even sometimes how rotten they are) are a huge part of my life because YOU are a huge part of my life. Your kids are wonderful, and I agree with you! Please, don’t assume that you can’t talk about this stuff with me. You better believe that someday when I bring home my kids from Haiti or the hospital, wherever they come from, I will have stories about them too. But also, sometimes it makes me want to curl up and shut down because I don’t have that for myself. I don’t have anything to add to those conversations right now, and I’m aware of it more often than I’d like. If we are at a party together and you happen to notice that the conversation has been nothing but getting-the-kids-to-dance-class stories, my-kid-is-the-cutest, my-kid-is-the-craziest stories all evening, maybe try to change the subject on my behalf. I will be so appreciative.
And I can’t speak for all women dealing with infertility issues, but for me specifically, this one is more important. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask me how I am doing that day. Ask me if being infertile makes me hate playgrounds or nurseries. Ask me how it makes me feel when people ask, “no kids for you, yet? Well why not?!” Ask me to babysit your kid, ask me to go to a baby shower, ask me if I spiral into depression every month when I get my period. Seriously. Ask me whatever you want. Ask me things you aren’t comfortable asking. I have got A LOT of grace for people who are trying to understand. I even have some grace for people who are NOT trying to understand.