The decision to start blogging again was one of healing. This life and journey through infertility has brought me through the depths of pain and sadness. Now it hasn’t been all doom and gloom for us over the past five years. As one who is an eternal optimist through and through – if you know us – you probably haven’t noticed or realized what we’ve been dealing with. My optimism – a gift and strength of mine most of the time – has also been a mask, for the real-life yucky stuff going on in my head and my heart. For someone who clings to the positive in life, infertility has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with. Finding the positive in this life and journey can be really hard at times.
I crave laughter on a daily basis. Other than eating delicious food, laughing is one of my most favorite things to do. It really IS the perfect medicine. Jay and I have found ways to laugh at our situation. We have this running joke that my lady parts have guarded warriors that karate-chop his “men” away from the “gates”. Or, that his “men” (like most REAL men) forget what they are supposed to “do” or where they are supposed to “go”. When my friend and I were talking about this infertility support group, she mentioned that they were looking for a name. We must have come up with 100 different names and NONE of them were remotely serious or appropriate. My personal favorite…”Shooting Blanks”. You HAVE to laugh. You have to find reasons to get up and get on with life.
The infertility group was really great for me. Of course we had our share of good ugly cries, but then there was laughter. We laughed at the insane and inappropriate thoughts we had about pregnant women, the absolutely ridiculous things we would eat or drink to make us more fertile and most of all, the crazy things that people say to us. I told them I wanted to come up with a list of things to NOT say to someone dealing with infertility and I think this is the post for that list.
Disclaimer: Most of you have said one or all of these things below, but rest assured that I think I have said them too. We are human and it’s human-nature (and SO a female-thing) to try to fix people and problems. We want to help. We want to give hope. I know most of the things said below are heart-felt and with good intentions, but please…please take it from someone who has heard it all. There’s a fine line between being helpful & understanding and being hurtful in ways I hope I can explain:
What NOT to say to someone struggling with infertility:
Try to Stop Thinking About It and It’ll Happen
Think about a time in your life that you’ve wanted something so badly and you could do NOTHING to make it appear or happen. It is physically IMPOSSIBLE to stop thinking about wanting to have a baby…especially when EVERYONE around you is having a baby or has children. I mean dang, if Jay even mentions sushi (my favorite!), I obsessively cannot get it out of my mind until we go get some…and that’s just food. This is just NOT good advice and I would challenge you to try to take this advice for something in your life that you want and see how it works…because it doesn’t.
Maybe You Should Look Into Adoption and Then You’ll Get Pregnant
Everyone “knows” a couple this has happened to and most have kindly shared their stories of a “friend of a friend” with me, but the process of adoption is NOT one to take lightly or “pretend” like you want to go through it so that you can get pregnant. In fact, the rate for pregnancy after adoption is the same for those who do not adopt, it’s no higher. Infertility is not a mind game, you can’t trick your uterus into working by pretending you want to adopt.
Maybe God’s Not Ready for You to Have Kids or There’s Some Area of Your Life That Needs “Fixin” First
Just. stop. right. there. I got a “fixin” for you. Last time I checked, God doesn’t play games with our lives. He’s not sitting back, withholding our family while we cry it out to prove a point. Ugh.
Have You Tried ________.
Fill that blank in with every crazy wives tale, sexual advice, food or drink recommendation, standing on your head, etc. You can rest assured that if someone is dealing with infertility, they have tried EVERYTHING in the book (and there are SO many books) to try to make it happen for them. Just because you may have had a friend one time that ate or drank this and that and magically got pregnant doesn’t mean it’ll happen for me. Everyone is different and when you are struggling with infertility, you pay lots of money for doctors to tell you what you need to do (and in our case, none of THOSE suggestions have worked either)…but we have tried…we are trying.
Children are Exhausting, You’re So Lucky
If your kids are so bad, give them to me. Lucky is NOT the word I would use for one who longs every day for their very own son or daughter to annoy the shit out of them. No, you’re lucky that you don’t have to go through the medical prods and pokes, all the hormonal medicines and the super romantic scheduled sex times…all for it to fail time and time again.
You’re Still Young, You Have Plenty of Time
I’ve done the math. I’m turning 30 this year and Jay, 34. If we had a child TODAY, Jay would be early 40’s by the time that kiddo was in kindergarten. Not that 40 is that old, but we want a big family…like 5-6 kids. If we have yet to start, how old are we going to be when and if this family thing is ever a reality for us? We are super lucky to have our parents and even some grandparents around, but I would LOVE for our children to grow up knowing their grandparents and great-grandparents. There’s no guarantee on the time any of us have in this world, so how do you know we have plenty of time?
Some other things that have cooked my grits over the years…the surprise dramatic baby announcements, the ultrasound pictures on Facebook, other women telling me that our purpose in life is to be wives and mothers (really?! no other purpose?!), the “I can’t even stand beside my husband without getting pregnant”, etc. Hear me when I say that I know baby announcements and ultrasounds and posting thousands of photos of your adorable children are some of the most joyous times of your life…at the same time, they are some of the most painful for women (and men) that are dealing with infertility. I am so happy for you that you have those things to post and most posts make me smile. Beneath that smile, I’m also wincing with heartache. It’s not your fault and it’s not your job to filter everything for your infertile friends, but if you really love them, then take a moment to send an email or a phone call and let them know from time to time that you are sorry. Sorry that they have to deal with this. Sorry that you don’t have the right answers. Sorry that you can’t fix it.
So if you get anything from this post, I want to leave you with this…Tell your friends that you love them and that you hurt for them. The simplest “I’m sorry” goes a long way. Maybe even treat your friend to a cup of coffee or a girly drink with a little child-free conversation. Don’t stop inviting them to hang out or to the baby showers or birthday parties, but be sensitive and understanding if they decline. Don’t try to fix them. Just love on them. Hug them. Cry with them. Be a friend to them. Let them be.
This may be our last post on the infertility topic for a while because well, this is not supposed to be JUST an infertility-blog – it’s a blog of “life, food & beautiful things”. Despite our current INFERTILE label and the pain that comes with that, our life is something of beauty because it’s our story…
~ Team M.