I have been going back and forth on posting about this. David and I are very private people, and writing about our struggles to have a child has been difficult for both of us, but also good as more people are praying. We also have received beautiful encouraging e-mails from many of you! Thank you all for that.
Today is the two year anniversary of when we decided it was time to start trying for a family. We sat in a little restaurant in Moberly, we were both so excited. When we were juniors in college we considered letting me drop out so that we could begin a family, but had decided against that as we had less than two years left. That day we were a couple of months away from graduating, we had a long discussion on whether I would be able to keep up my G.P.A while dealing with morning sickness. We were so naive!
We both cried, sitting in that restaurant. Our hearts soared as we walked out of the restaurant, we talked for weeks about baby names and how we would have to spend our furlough so that our families could see our beautiful child. It was a dreamy and blissful time.
Now as I sit here it is difficult to explain what it feels like to have such a deep and personal aching. The pain is not only there when we think about the baby we have never held. But also when we see parents with their teenagers, proud moments at graduations, and people who have more kids than they know what to do with.
In the past two years we have endured endless questions on why we do not have kids yes. It feels so strange that it is an acceptable thing to ask in our society today, but it is! Everyone has had an opinion on when we should have kids! We decided to let a few people in on our struggles, hoping that it would stop the awkward and heart wrenching questions. BUT telling people that you are having trouble opens an entire different floodgate of painful questions and unhelpful advice.
I thought I could take today to write about some of the ways that you may be able to reach out and help someone in your life who may be struggling with infertility. I have taken these suggestions from resolve.org a national infertility support site. So here goes:
1. Telling them to relax.
This may seem harmless enough, but it is a kick in the stomach to anyone with infertility. IF is a diagnosed medical problem. It would be like telling someone who has cancer to relax and then they will get better. It also puts stress on the couple, especially the woman, making her feel that she is doing something wrong. I cannot tell you how many people have told me to relax, and it is absolutely true that it makes you feel like it is your fault. Also there are many people who get pregnant in extremely stressful situations (such as rape), so there you have it boys and girls, relaxing will not get you pregnant!
2. Don’t tell them to adopt to get pregnant.
This one baffles me the most. I have been told countless times in the last two years to adopt a child and then I would get pregnant. I have even been told, and I quote, “when you adopt, and you hold that baby for the first time the feeling of holding a child will make the hormones in your body pump out correctly and you will get pregnant right away.”
I had to smile and nod, even though it was terribly awkward to hear this guy talk about my hormones, and painful to hear.
And here is what I find wrong with being told that. Would the adopted child then be sent back once it magically made us conceive our own child? I cannot understand the motivation behind this one, but you would be surprised at how many times I have been told this.
Also everyone might think they know someone who this happened to. (Like the mailman’s cousin’s best friend’s visiting exchange student’s great aunt twelve times removed.) However the true statistic is that only five percent of couple who adopt then have natural pregnancies.
3. Don’t push adoption.
Infertility is like losing a loved one. Every month there is hope and joy and expectation, and then also pain and disappointment and crushing feeling of loss. Before a couple is ready to move to adoption they have to grieve the loss of their own child. I always dreamed that our baby would have my nose and David’s green eyes. I have to let that go first. Does that make sense?
Furthermore, adoption is very very expensive and it is very long process.
4. Don’t gossip about you friend’s condition.
I have had people who knew nothing about what was going on with us come up and ask specifics about what so and so doctor had said. Things I had only shared with a couple of people. It is absolutely terrifying to think that people are out there discussing such our reproductive lives!!! I know this may seem like a strange thing for me to write about on my PUBLIC blog, but there are many thing that are kept private. Respect your friend’s privacy.
5. Don’t make crude remarks.
I think the title here says it all. The personal details are personal, don’t make jokes about them.
6. Don’t complain about your pregnancy.
I am not sure what else to write here. Just remember that there are some who would give anything to have your morning sickness if it meant they had a baby to take home in the end. Also, there are many other people who are not infertile that you can complain to. Be sensitive to your friend, if they make an excuse to not be at your baby shower don’t push it (and don’t expect them to throw you a shower either ).
7. I also have heard many things about infertility and ministry. Or shall I say fertility and ministry. We were once told that a couple without children are not as effective as a couple with children when doing ministry in Africa.I cried for weeks after I was told that. The person who said it had no idea what we were going through. It was a sucker punch!
We are thriving here now tough, and we are able to reach out to other who have the same struggles. I am thinking about finding out whether the missionary convention can do a workshop on fertility in ministry, and if not then maybe leading one.
I think it is something that needs to be addressed in the church. More couples out there have this than we realize and most of the support I have found has come from outside the church and from non-Christians.
8. Remember them on mother’s day.
9.Don’t say they are not meant to be parents.
Infertility is a medical condition, not a punishment from God. I have been told that I must have some hidden sin in my life and thus the IF.
If you have made it this far you deserve a cookie. I cannot give you one over the internet, so I shall wait while you go to your kitchen and get yourself one…………………………………………………………………..
I would not trade our day in the restaurant two years ago for anything. Those first few months of daydreaming and bliss are something that we cherish and hold on to. I told someone this past week that I am not sure that having our own child would ever heal the hurt that we have felt in the last two years completely. I think that whatever the outcome we have been though fire and we will come out stronger on the other side.
This verse has become a daily motto for me: Psalm 30:5 “Though the weeping will last through the night, joy comes in the morning.” We do wish we knew what time of night it was, but we hold on to the promises God has given us in scripture. And we begin our days with anticipation for what God has in store for us. We have learned that one cannot always know what God is doing in a situation until it has passed and you can look back.
God is good!