Sunday, March 4, 2012

Guest Blogger: Response to "Letter to friends with infertility"

I'm so thankful for this precious woman who has chosen to share her story, and delve more into the difficulties in infertility. If you choose to comment, please keep your comments full of love!  -- Rachel

Oh Rachel, thank you. You get infertility as much as you can. And because of that, I come away feeling validated. Validated that my pain is real. Validated that people’s words hurt me even though usually unintentionally. Validated that others could be more careful. 

I would want anyone who has ever questioned my reality to read your letter. It gives good insight about some of what I’m going through. Maybe others wouldn’t judge my actions and reactions as they do if they had any sympathy of the situation. I definitely feel like others dismiss my pain. I have to be guarded now in who I open up to because there are very callous responses from people who don’t understand. 

Just ONE of the crazy things about infertility is that while I am currently dealing with the loss of motherhood, if I ever give birth or adopt, then that loss becomes extinct. Unless a couple is actually told, “You will never have children,” they join the rest of us as we live in this in-between state. We don’t have children but we may have children. In life, we often want definites. Infertility is most certainly a shade of gray, not black or white

After being told we had unexplained infertility, the doctor said, “That is actually a good place to be. Because it doesn’t mean you can’t have children.”

Maybe if I were just told I would never have kids, I could just move on. I would know to grieve over never being pregnant, and then pursue other options. But instead, I live in a waiting game . . . Four years and counting. 

Another issue is how to deal with others' comments. I’ve developed a system of avoidance of painful situations like baby showers and such, but you cannot possibly plan for when someone outright asks you questions or makes comments.

After one rather traumatic interaction, I replayed the whole scenario over and over until I came up with my plan for any future issues. If the person is merely an acquaintance or is not someone I want to open up to, I will say something like, “That is a personal topic and I would not like to discuss it with you.” If they persist, I would reiterate that. If the person is closer, I might say something like, “Well, I would be willing to share with you on that if you want to get coffee sometime.” The latter will be an indication that I do not intend to discuss anything at that time or in an open setting. 

I would like to share that traumatic experience because it was so hurtful, I just need to get it out.

We were at a large gathering on a Sunday afternoon to celebrate the finalization of a baby's adoption. I was fine being there because the couple is older than us and cannot have children. I was holding the baby, when this middle-aged woman I’ll call Rosa came and sat next to me.

Rosa is from Spain, and I knew her from previous employment. She was all smiles and said something like, “When are you having a baby?” 

Because of the language barrier, I couldn’t understand if she was asking when I am due or telling me that I should get started having a family. I am a plus-sized woman, so the former would be an insulting comment regardless of my situation. (It just adds insult to injury to look pregnant because of excess weight and not be). 

I just responded, “No.” She kept asking and commenting for several more minutes, and I just kept saying, “No.” If I had been prepared, I would have told her that is a private matter and I did not want to discuss it with her.

I left that afternoon with all kinds of emotions. I was rather shocked that she continued to press the issue. I tried to tell my husband afterward that I don’t want to be around that person again, and that I was making eyes at him to come rescue me. But he had no clue.

I do try to be merciful when others make hurtful comments, as I am sure that I made many unknowingly harmful comments before I experienced infertility myself. I now find myself SO grateful when meeting new people who DON’T make comments or ask questions.  If you can see that we have no children around us and we haven’t made comments about a babysitter, then it is logical to assume we have no children. I know I will never ask someone about their family status again. I know all too well what it does. 

I do envision what a child with my husband’s and my DNA would look like. But I think, even more than that, I live in fear all the time that one of our parents will pass away without ever meeting our children, or at least one child. 

The more years that pass, the scarier and more real this fear becomes. It is very important to me. My dad’s mother died before I was a year old and I treasure the very few photos there are of her holding me. Even though I never knew her, it means a lot that she met me. I want that for my children. And every woman knows that she needs her mother more than ever when she’s pregnant. Your mom is your best comfort at that time. I would hate to not have my mom around if I ever get to experience pregnancy. 

Infertility is absolutely consuming. I can’t seem to ever shut my brain off. I’m always aware of where I am at in my cycle, when we need to try, what symptoms I’m feeling, and the many whens: when to take medicine, when to get bloodwork, and when the doctor appointments are. 

Any women that ever says they were miserably sick for nine months does not understand that I would LOVE to be miserably sick for nine months knowing that I would have a child. 

I constantly question what God wants from me. What am I doing wrong? What am I supposed to learn? Hasn’t this season lasted long enough? 

I hate this season and I don’t handle it gracefully. The longer I remain here the MORE I sin. Is God waiting for me to have no more jealousy, bitterness, faithlessness, distrust, anger, resentment,self-pity, and lack of joy before he will give me children?  If he’s waiting for that, I know I’ll never have kids. Because every day, I learn of someone else being pregnant, fight with my husband when he’s not compassionate, fear losing my parents, or question God’s best.

I also feel like I have to justify adoption. I want to adopt children. I am strongly convicted as a born-again Christian that I should care for orphans and train them to love God. I want to have a home that more and more children are added to it all the time. I look forward to a large family.

When asked why I don’t adopt right now, my answer is that it would be much easier for my husband and me to learn how to be parents from conception on. If given the opportunity, I want to take advantage of God’s design in the nine months of preparation and the growths tages of a baby.  There’s a slow transformation that takes place in natural parenting. Once we experience that, then it will be so much easier to add more and more children. I never want to have a stigma that we adopted because “we had no other choice.” I want to adopt because I want to adopt. 

I know that you will struggle with key dates having lost your baby. I struggle with dates, too. Especially my birthday.

Last year, several weeks before my birthday, whenever I thought about it, I would burst into tears, because I wanted to have several children by this age!  I am grieving that I will never have children in my 20s. The 30s are scary when it comes to fertility. Time is counting down.

And some holidays are hard, too. Family getting together at Christmas, and it’s another year passed without any grandkids. While on my husband's side, there are now four grandkids, none of whom were around when my husband and I got married. 

I do wish that every pregnant woman would realize that her pregnancy is a source of pain to others. A reminder of what they don't have. A source of jealousy about wanting to be in your place.  And bitterness when you complain about your situation.

I am a very outspoken person, and my infertility has made me understand that everything out of my mouth, on facebook, in a blog, etc., has the potential of hurting others. I HAVE learned this lesson to be careful about my joys or hurts being a stumbling block for someone else. 


If you would like to share your story of pregnancy loss or infertility, please email me your story at renyeart@gmail.com. I can post your story anonymously if you would like. I do reserve the right to edit your post for clarity.

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