I’ve gone through much of my infertile years with the mindset that everyone is being rude and unfeeling when it comes to the baby topic. Everyone has an opinion on my infertility from “you are causing your own infertility by constantly referring to yourself as infertile” to “just be happy you don’t have a dead beat husband with a house full of kids like her.” Sure, these comments are less than helpful and some are just downright mean, but in reality, I did not say them, I do not believe them, and it is not my job to “fix” the person who said it.
But not all comments are unfeeling and harsh, and yet somehow I manage to feel the same amount of hurt from a “you are causing your own infertility” comment and an “it’ll happen, just be patient” comment. Why is that?
My tendency is to want to set the record straight with these people. “The definition of infertile is….and this helps doctors help me….this helps others struggling with the same thing identify with me….” (See, I wanted to go into major detail and explain myself even now.) I want to argue, I want to rage, I want to be heard, I want you to feel the grief and pain I feel every day. But, I can’t. There are some things I cannot do and one of those things is force people to understand. There are some people that will listen to my hurts, cry with me, and not try to fix me – these are the kindred spirits that understand. I go to those people when I need to be heard. I have tried many times to be heard by all that offend me, but I have found it just ends with me being more hurt by them, resentful at them, and angry at my own circumstances and the inability for someone else to “get it”.
So now what? People will not stop making these comments and I am convinced that when I do finally become a mother I will then hear comments like “I told you it would happen!” or “did you finally stop calling yourself infertile?” As if it was their miraculous comment that made a difference in my infertility. Wow, I am realizing how angry and hateful this post is sounding. If you are angry at me, I understand, I sound like a brat…
…but this is the reality of my situation, please keep reading because I am about to go all “truth telling” on my own ass. Maybe you will find some joy in my reality slap to myself.
The other day I was at lunch with two very dear friends. One of my friends is pregnant (let’s call her Sally), with what I am convinced, will be the most handsome baby in the whole wide world. I cannot explain the amount of joy and pain I felt when she told me THE GOOD NEWS. (I am emphasizing that because it is indeed good news, regardless of my jealousy). If I tried to explain exactly how I felt I am convinced you would think you were hearing the thoughts of a crazy person. Let’s keep it simple for now and just say I was beyond over-joyed, jealous that it was so easy for Sally and her husband to get what they desired, sad that I may never experience the excitement of a pregnancy, fearful that Sally would be scared to talk about her pregnancy in front of me, and fearful that Sally would talk about her pregnancy in front of me. Yea, that’s the simple version…
Oh right, so the other day I was at lunch with Sally and another friend and of course the topic of pregnancy and babies comes up. I was fine at first, but after several minutes I started to feel anger and resentment and I instantly became a victim in the situation:
How can they keep talking about this while I am here? Are they so unfeeling that they cannot sense my pain and irritation? Do they not understand how hard this is for me to endure? I am constantly being berated with reminders that I may never know what those pleasures, fears, and agonies of pregnancy are.
My thoughts then switched to the ever-dreaded and self-condemning “You shoulds” and “you shouldn’ts.”
You shouldn’t feel this way. You shouldn’t be mad at them, it’s not their fault that you aren’t pregnant. You should join in the conversation with joy and love, because you shouldn’t be jealous. Jealousy is bad and you shouldn’t feel that way. You should allow Sally to vent her fears, frustrations, and victories with her pregnancy so far. You should feel compassion for the morning sickness.
I am now realizing how verbally abusive I can be to myself and how assuming I can be of other people’s motives. The reality of the situation was that I felt isolated, jealous, angry, etc. So, in that moment I decided to let myself feel those emotions, but not without some follow-up questions from the Holy Spirit.
This conversation makes me feel isolated because I can’t comment or be a part of it. I don’t feel I have a right to give my opinion because I haven’t experienced it. I feel like an outsider and I am not welcomed in this conversation. Your feelings are valid. But do you need to talk to be a part of a conversation? Well, no, I guess not. I guess I am a part of the conversation because Sally invited me into it by talking to me. She is letting me into her experience, she doesn’t have to do that, I AM welcomed and I DO have a place, even if I don’t know anything.
When I hear all this talk about babies and pregnancy I get so jealous. It’s not fair that they tried for a couple months and Dean and I have been trying for years. Is their pregnancy keeping you from becoming pregnant? Well…no, it’s not. But why do they get what they want and I don’t? God promised you you would be a mom someday, do you not trust His word? Oh crap…its back to that isn’t it. Back to me not trusting what God has told me. Touché, Holy Spirit, touché.
But why do they have to keep talking about babies in front of me? Can’t they see how hard it is for me? Can’t you see how hard it is for expectant mothers? Can’t you see how much fear can occur? Can’t you see how the faintest scent can send an expectant mother running for the bathroom? Can’t you see how much expectant mothers need to hear pregnancy stories from as many woman as possible, just as you need to hear infertility stories from as many woman as possible? Can’t you see that expectant mothers aren’t intending to cause you pain? Can’t you see that pregnant woman often feel tired, scared, and sick? I mean, they are growing a human being for goodness sakes! Can’t you see it’s not all about you?
Oh…yes…I do see that, but it’s still hard. Yes, it is hard, but you seem to be blaming Sally for the pain you feel simply because has not felt that pain.
It’s not a bad slap, it’s what I needed at the time, and it’s not without God’s grace. I am still awkwardly stumbling through these types of conversations, slowly finding my feet and my balance, slowly learning to relish the joy and accept the pain, and question my anger and motives. I am trying to accept where I am at, because I have made a lot of progress in the past 5 years, and I don’t want to lose sight of that. But with that being said…
Anyone I come in contact with who is pregnant or has kids, please, please don’t stop talking to me. Please, please know that I am joyful and that this face:
Is simply me fighting my own hurts that really don’t involve you…they are between me and God. If I get upset, it doesn’t mean you weren’t a good enough friend to sense my pain, you couldn’t have known and it’s not your responsibility to tip toe around my feelings. It is my responsibility to work through my feelings and hurts. Please, please be patient with me as I stumble through my thoughts and words. Thank you in advance!