Please let me begin this conversation by saying that I mean only good to anyone reading this post. I pray that God takes my words and uses them for good and not for evil. I want you to know that the #1 reason I have chosen to share my experiences of infertility is to try to help other women who are in my shoes know they are not alone. The second reason I talk about it is so that others who want to help may be able to gain insight on what women with infertility go through day to day. I am not looking for pity however, I covet every prayer you send up for me and my husband during this time in our life.
This post has been weeks in the making. The general idea came to me out of the blue (I'm pretty sure that was God) and has gradually evolved into what I'm sharing today. These are not solely my thoughts and opinions. These are the shared feelings of women who are currently enduring infertility, those who are finally expecting after years of trying, and those who went through it in the past and are now mothers to multiple blessings. With all of that said, I apologize for the length of this post... I really did edit as much as I could! I know this is a tough subject and it may be hard to read to the end, but I hope you will feel it has been worth your time when you are done.
1.) I'll just come out and say it... we are jealous of you.
Please know that we in no way hate you for being able to bear children and would never wish this hurt we feel on our worst enemy. But there's no use in denying it... infertile women are jealous of women with children. We see the connection, the love, and the amazing bond that you have with them. We see the joy they bring to your life every day and we want that for ourselves more than anything. We would give up everything for it, spend our last dime to get it, and die to know what it's like. We aren't mad that you're happy... we just want some of that happiness too. So there... now you know. Ok, let's not kid ourselves - you already knew, but now it's out in the open so we call all stop pretending we can't see the green monsters sitting on the shoulders of all the infertiles. LOL! :)
2.) Cards, emails, words of kindness, and caring acts are appreciated more than you know.
Infertility breeds tons of self-esteem issues, insecurity, and feelings of being on "the outside". One little handwritten note, text, or thoughtful action could make our entire week. Mother's Day is an especially hard time for women who want to, but are physically unable to become a mother. I will NEVER forget the handful of friends that sent me a message this year on that day. I went from feeling extremely depressed to feeling overwhelmingly encouraged and touched that someone was actually thinking about me and took the time to let me know. Though Mother's Day is one of the more difficult days for childless women, infertility is always looming no matter what day it is. One simple thought could brighten one of those days.
3.) Don't take it personally if we decline a baby shower invitation.
Honestly, our not being in attendance is doing everyone a favor! Seriously... do you really want us to look sad the entire time and risk a sudden outburst of tears? Nah... I think not. You're safer to accept the fact that we are truly happy for the lucky lady, but don't want to ruin her special day by being a gloomy guest.
*NOTE: Personally, I do ok at showers. However, I have talked to many ladies that don't handle these types of events as well. This point is for them.
4.) We are constantly hurting.
I'm sure that sounds like an overstatement to someone who hasn't been in our shoes. For those that have, you know EXACTLY what I mean and can probably still feel that bitter pain every time you think about that time in your life. Things the average person would never think about add to our hurt every day. Something as simple as a commercial about diapers with a baby crawling across the floor or seeing a mama out with her little ones or even just walking by the baby clothes in Target are all daily reminders of what we are missing. It feels like a huge knife is stuck in your chest and every time you are reminded of your emptiness that knife gets pushed deeper and deeper. The pain, though less intense at times, never goes away.
5.) Telling us to "just adopt" doesn't help.
Adoption will not magically erase the pain of infertility. It is definitely something that most infertile couples consider, but the desire to bear your own children won't just disappear by adopting. Then there's the money aspect. Here is my response to that... "Sure! After we have spent thousands on infertility treatments let me just pull out that extra $25k that I have stashed under my mattress and 'just' go adopt!" I won't go into greater detail about that, but financially, legally, and emotionally it's really not an easy fix as some might have been led to believe.
6.) We still want to be friends with you even though you have kids.
I understand it can be awkward at times. You might feel bad about inviting a couple dealing with infertility to an event involving your kids or a birthday party for a child. Yes, There are times where we will decline the invitation when we may feel emotionally unable to be in that environment, but please don't assume that we never want to attend if your kids are present. We already feel isolated because of our circumstances... please don't add to that by excluding us from your lives because you're worried about us feeling uncomfortable.
7.) Please don't give us advice on how to get pregnant. Believe me, we've already read, heard, and tried it all!
We do understand that you are sincerely trying to help, but more than likely everything you say to us we have already tried (and more!). We have heard every story, researched every option, and we really don't want to hear about how your cousin's best friend's sister-in-law knew a girl that tried such and such and magically conceived. That's great for them, but we aren't that girl and you probably don't know the details of her situation or ours. I'm sure that sounds hateful... you might be able to tell that I've heard one too many words of advice from people who have no idea what is medically wrong with me.
8.) Understand that we can't empathize with you when you complain about pregnancy or your children.
I think part of the "infertility rite of passage" is making a promise to God and/or yourself that you will TRY as hard as you can not to complain about pregnancy or your children if that day ever comes. In fact, I would wager that 99% of the women affected by infertility will know exactly what I mean when I say that hearing someone complain about morning sickness, lost sleep, or whiney kids can literally make you cringe inside. When you wait, hope, pray, and shed countless tears as we have you simply can't relate to women that take the miracles they have for granted. We would gladly trade your worst day with children for our best day without them.
*NOTE: We understand that motherhood is hard. We aren't expecting every day with children to be perfect. The point is that we can't relate to women who make a habit of complaining about something we give anything to have.
9.) We covet your prayers.
I personally feel this is the most important thing that you can do to help and encourage us. There can never be enough prayers going up for women and couples dealing with infertility. Not sure how to pray? Pray for our emotional and physical state and for our faith in God to stay strong. We are dealing with the reality of possibly never being able to have a family, with the physical problems associated with the cause of our infertility, and are on a constant emotional roller coaster month after month as we continue to try to conceive. In addition to all of that, most infertile couples are dealing with extreme financial stress since insurance does not pay for ANYTHING related to infertility. All of those things can be taxing on our relationship with God so prayers for our spiritual well being are welcomed as well. I came across Galations 6:2 while writing this post this week. Don't you love it when God says things so simply, but perfectly?!