Infertility is loss. This is an idea that is just beginning to become more mainstream. But if you’ve been through it, you already know.
Emotions come in a tidal wave. Hurt, hope, heartbreak, and healing. Sometimes they all rush at once and sometimes it takes days to move from one “stage” to the next. Infertility is in essence the same as living in the middle of a tragedy. A four part tragedy that repeats itself every month…
- You start your period and take a day or two just crying, grieving, and wishing it away.
- You plan your life around the “green days” and try to keep your husband in a good mood at least every other day.
- The dreaded two week wait. You can just feel it! You know it worked this time. But you have to wait two weeks to take a pregnancy test.
- Negative pregnancy test. But you take 4 more just to be sure.
And repeat as stated. In our case: repeat 28 times and counting.
I think the silence and mystery that is behind infertility is the hardest of all. My dad died 8 months ago. And to this day well meaning friends and acquaintances will ask me in hushed tones how I’m doing, how the family is doing, and to let them know if they can help in any way. And I am so grateful for the outpouring of support over this time. But while that loss was big, it was also evident. It was extremely public. And it wasn’t tabo. My current loss however, the one I feel during stage 1 every month, is silent. I want to scream it out to people, change my facebook status, and maybe write a blog about loss. But it’s not realistic. But my pain is real. But people don’t want to know. But I need people to know.
Throughout this journey we have found there is two extremely loud emotions: Heartbreak and Hope. People say things that cause heartbreak, but they also say things that bring hope. Mostly we heard that people just don’t know how to respond. These are some of the hurtful and helpful things you can say to someone who is experiencing the loss of infertility:
Hurtful things others have (actually, in real life, to my face) said:
– “You don’t really want kids anyway…they are a handful” …DUH. It is obviously not like I’ve never spent time (A LOT OF TIME) with children that are a handful. Even children I love as close to my own as possible…sometimes I wanted to lock them on the porch…so I get it, kids are a lot of work. Don’t dismiss my wanting kids because you are having a hard season with yours.
– “Have you tried X,Y,Z?!?!”. I am most reluctant to tell any part of my infertility story to friends with kids. Because about 50% of people I have come across who have once been pregnant, are now experts. And yes, I’ve tried that position, that diet, that vitamin, and that tracking system.
– “It will probably happen once you stop thinking about it”. Now, to show you that even though these things hurt, I still love the humans that said them to me…this is something my own husband has told me. But it is an INSANE and RIDICULOUS idea because 100% of the time I am thinking about putting a baby inside of me. While in the shower, while eating dinner, while babysitting, while picking out my outfit for a wedding, while brushing my teeth, while reading a history book, while shoe shopping, literally 100%. I love my husband so dearly, but while he is able to compartmentalize, I am not. And even though my friend was selling all of her baby equipment, convinced it wasn’t going to happen again, and then conceived, it’s not a proven system.
Helpful (hopeful) things others have said:
-Scripture. I love when my friends combat my hurt/depression/negativity with straight scripture. There is no need for explanation. I never take it the wrong way. I always need more Jesus words than people words.
– “Let me know if you want the name of this book/article/blog I’ve found helpful/interesting” …I love when friends ASK if I want their advice before just sending me a link to click on. It puts me in just a little control of a situation where I feel zero control a large majority of the time. The most well meaning and loving friends have sometimes thrust articles upon me urging me to try this or that. And as much as I love that I’ve been thought of, it seems to just add one more unsolicited file for me to store in my overflowing brain.
– “How can I specifically be praying for your heart”. Oh man. My friend Amanda is a gem. She frequently will ask me how she can pray for my heart. And because she has been faithful in doing this, I know I can trust her with my most honest and painful corners of my heart. When I hear “I’ll be praying for you” sometimes it is hard to believe. Because I know the depth of what we are going through is heavy and with a blanket “i’ll pray”, I’m not sure they have heard my words…or my heart.
I say all of those things not to reap sympathy but because my story is just one story. As I start to share I am finding a whole tribe of women who are experiencing the loss of infertility. Apply these thoughts to your friends and family who are hurting and be a part of the Hope they will fee