My parents came to town over the weekend, and my mom and I did some wedding shopping (for my sister who recently got engaged). When she and I were out and about we saw so many pregnant women. They were everywhere. It really got me to thinking about some things I wish the moms in my life knew… maybe not specifically about me, but about all women who are going through infertility. It is something that, were I not walking through it myself, I would not understand at all. I would not understand the emotional, physical, and spiritual trials that come along with fertility treatments. I would not understand the strain it can put on marriages, friendships, and all other relationships. I would not understand the feelings of isolation, or the constant emotional roller coaster… So, here are some things I think may infertile women would like women with children, or women who are pregnant to know.
1) We are jealous of you. The feeling is not constant, but it is always underlying, and often prevalent. I hate to admit it, but it’s true.
2) Even though we struggle with jealousy, we still want to be friends with you. We care about your family, your children, your pregnancy, your joys, and your trials. There may be times when we feel awkward, or when you feel awkward around us, but we do want to be a part of your life, and we want you to be a part of ours.
3) We notice every pregnant woman and every mother we see out in public. There is no need for you to pretend like you do not notice them in order to spare our feelings. Believe me, we see them. In a way, it actually makes me happy to see pregnant mommies out and about. It is such a beautiful thing, and it gives me hope.
4) Please do not take it personally if we do not show up to your baby shower. It is just too difficult. And us not being there will make the shower more enjoyable for everyone. Who wants an emotional wreck around who is fighting back tears at every gift you open?! We would not want to ruin your special day with our glum disposition.
5) We are always hurting… even on happy days. The hurt is there. It may seems silly to you if it’s not something you’ve experienced, but the hurt is real.
6) We are always lonely. We ache for others who can somehow know exactly what we are going through. And far more than that, we ache for our unborn children. We are lonely and unfulfilled without them. You may be one of our dearest friends, but even when we are with you, and enjoying ourselves tremendously, we are still lonely.
7) Cards, quick emails, text messages, or phone calls are always appreciated. Because, as I said before, we are lonely and hurting. A quick reminder that someone is thinking of us can do our heart so much good!
8) Telling us to “just relax,” or giving us other pointers on how to conceive is not helpful. It is maddening. We’ve tried everything, and hearing crappy advice makes us want to scream. We have researched and tried anything and everything. There is no advice you could give that has not already been given, or that we have not already tried. We know that your intentions are good, but fertility advice is really frustrating. Telling us to relax makes us even more alone than we already do. It makes us feel like you have no idea what we are going through, and like you are making light of an extremely difficult situation. It is much more meaningful to sit in silence with you than to hear you give us advice.
9) Asking us if we’ve thought about considering adoption is also unhelpful. Of course we have thought about it, but if we are not pursuing it, it’s because we still have hope that we will conceive, or because we do not feel that adoption is what God is calling us to yet. Plus, someone who has spent thousands (like $15,000, $20,00, $25,000) on fertility treatments probably does not have the financial resources to adopt anyway. And finally, adoption does not erase the pain of infertility. It does not erase the desire to have our own children.
10) Please know that we cannot, in any way, empathize with you when you complain about pregnancy, your children, or motherhood. Because as I mentioned before, we are jealous. We wish we had the very issues you are complaining about. We pray for them, long for them, and dream about them. We cry over them and fight for them. Hearing someone complain about morning sickness, lack of sleep, or grumpy children makes us a little sick on the inside. We do not mind listening, but each time we hear you, we make another vow to ourselves and to God that if we ever get pregnant, we will not complain. No matter what. So just know that we do care about how you are feeling, but we do not understand it one bit. And we wish we felt and experienced the very things you are griping about.
11) We crave your prayers. This is the biggest thing you can do to encourage us. Pray for our emotional and physical well-being, and pray for our faith. Pray that we would be grateful no matter what our circumstances, and that God would strengthen our hearts. Pray for our relationships with our husbands, because infertility can really take its toll on all of our relationships.
12) We are wrapped up in our own lives. This is especially true if we are undergoing fertility treatments. They require a certain amount of selfishness, because they consume all of our time, energy, and thoughts. But this does not mean that we do not care about what is going on in your life too. It is actually quite the contrary.
13) We want to hear about your struggles, and you day-to-day life. We know that means hearing about your family… your children, but we want to be involved and included in those things somehow. We want to have someone else to focus on, to love on, and to pray for. So please, do not hesitate to let us into your lives. Do not be worried that we are so wrapped up in our own lives that we do have room to share in yours, because that is not true! We long to share in your struggles… your struggles as an expectant mother, or as a mother, as a wife… we do love you, and we want to support you as best we can. We want to lend a listening ear, and we want to pray for you in the same way we hope you will pray for us.
****Update: Lorena, at An Open Window, added a 14th thing to this list. And I completely agree with her. Plus, her blog is really great… I highly recommend spending some time there if you have some to spare! (: