Infertility, a silent struggle of so many, can be a lonely road. Waging mixed emotions from grief to bitterness to embarrassment, women battling infertility may find it difficult to connect with their favorite friends, especially if they already have children. Having walked this road myself, I know the emptiness and sorrow that waiting for a baby can bring. But on my journey, I found friends who shared in my plight. While our stories may vary slightly, I discovered we shared many common thoughts and feelings. I compiled a list of the top 10 things us “Infertile Myrtles” wish you knew. May it help you relate to and support a friend battling infertility.
1. I need your support and friendship, but don’t ask me how things are going with getting pregnant or when are we going to have kids.
“Are you guys going to have kids?” and “How is it going trying to have a baby?” are probably two of my least favorite questions of all times. Seriously. Nothing else has ever made me squirm so uncomfortably and want to escape to the nearest exit like these two questions. I used to stammer and blush as I desperately tried to think of a nice response. You see my first reaction wasn’t nice at all. Honestly, my snarky thoughts included, “Have I announced a pregnancy to you yet?”or “I am beyond desperate for a baby and cry about it often.” But instead of blurting out what I was really thinking, I would take a deep breath, paste a fake smile on my face and mumble something about it just not happening yet and trusting in God’s plan. While I did indeed trust in God’s timing, it was so awkward that others would comment on this deeply, personal issue. So give your friend a break, save you both some embarrassment and don’t ask. 🙂
2. I cry a lot and anything can trigger it.
While the emotions during pregnancy may be triggered by hormones, a woman is every bit as emotional during her season of infertility. We cry at baby commercials, Mother’s Day, baby showers, social media pictures, pregnancy announcements, walking by the baby section in Target and so many other situations where our infertility is like a slap in the face. Often these tears are private and shed with such grief and despair, our heart aches with desperation. I should have bought stock in Kleenex while trying to conceive!
3. Infertility is at the front of my mind, 24/7.
The times I was battling infertility, it was all consuming. I went to sleep praying and thinking about ways to enhance my chances of pregnancy and woke up to the same thoughts. I didn’t want to think of it all the time, but the situation engulfed me and I could not get babies off the brain. I longed for a break from this situation and to be “normal” like the other women my age, who were blissfully preparing for a life with a little one.
4. Often I feel like a failure.
Dealing with raging emotions, the feeling of failure came in sporadic waves, especially once we were diagnosed with “unexplained infertility”. One minute I would be at peace with my infertility battle, and the next moment, truly feel like I had failed in my role as a woman. Bearing children was not only a life-long dream of mine, but also I felt like a calling from God. So when pregnancy didn’t happen, I felt as though I was less of a woman, one whom had failed at one of the only things I had ever wanted. But I knew that as a child of God, my identity did not lie in whether or not I could bear children, but in Christ alone. With or without kids, God would still use me for His glory if I let go of my feelings of failure, lay it at the cross and choose to live a life grounded in His Truth. His Word reminds me in Psalm 138:8 that He does have a purpose and a plan for me. Wallowing in emotions of failure blinded me from seeing that there is an AMAZING life awaiting me, with or without kids, if only I would surrender my plans for my life and follow God’s plan instead.
5. When you announce your pregnancy, I am happy for you, but devastated for me.
Sometimes upon hearing yet another friend was pregnant, I would soon have to find a place alone to cry, if only for a second. (See, I told you I cry a lot!) It didn’t mean I wasn’t happy for my sweet friend, it just meant that this situation was bigger than me and sometimes I couldn’t pull myself out of my misery to truly celebrate with friends, even though I wanted to have a normal reaction to the big news. Yet at other times, I was able to put my situation aside and genuinely be happy for a newly expectant friend. It may sound self-centered and selfish, but at some moments, being consumed with infertility inhibited me from acting like myself. And trust me, I was wracked with guilt about being a bad friend!
6. Baby showers are complete and total torture!!
Walking past the baby aisle at Target was hard enough, but watching a friend open tiny clothes and pastel baby accessories was often too much for me. I longed to be like everyone else at the shower; someone who desired to hear every detail of the nursery decor, was able to oooh and aaah over soft blankets, and offer advice to the mom-to-be, but I wasn’t. I was the girl holding back tears, plastering a smile on my face and wishing more than anything for a baby of my own.
7. Social media feeds the hurt and grief.
Seeing pictures of sweet babies enveloped in their mother’s arms on Facebook used to make me want to turn off the computer and head for a pint of ice cream. During my season of infertility, I was grieving the dream of being a parent, and the constant updates and pictures on social media was yet another reminder of my plight. I wanted to want to hear about every milestone and see pictures of your latest family outing, but it was just too painful. What happened to social media being an escape from reality?
8. Key phrases that make me go from joy to rage in 2 seconds include:
“Just relax, it will happen when it is supposed to.”
“If you stop trying, you’ll get pregnant right away.”
“I’m pregnant and we weren’t even trying.”
“Here’s what we did to get pregnant and it worked like a charm….”
“Stop thinking about it and put it out of your mind.”
“One day it will be your turn.”
“Is there something wrong with you or Hubs that it hasn’t happened yet?”
“Guess what? I’m pregnant!”
“Will you help host a baby shower?”
9. I often wonder “why?”
Wondering why I can’t have kids is a question always at the front of the mind of those coping with infertility, even if we know why we can’t have kids. Us “Infertile Myrtles” wonder what we did to deserve this. Why are teenagers getting pregnant on accident, but yet I am not able to conceive? If I would take care of and love my children, why are those allowed to have kids who mistreat and neglect their kids? The “why’s” haunt us, even though there is nothing tangible we can do about the situation.
10. I never stop hoping and praying that this is the month where everything changes and I finally get pregnant.
No matter what circumstance or medical diagnosis is stacked up in front of me, in the back of my mind is the tiniest flicker of hope that a miracle will occur, and I will conceive. Some months I may even “feel” pregnant and take a half dozen pregnancy tests in the hope that this is my month, the month where I get to announce with gusto that finally, after years of praying and waiting, I AM PREGNANT!! When that doesn’t happen and the baby dreams are put on hold once more, my spirit is crushed. The cycle starts over next month, where I may do something different in my diet or try a new technique to help reach the dream of parenthood.
So, there it is, a peek into the thoughts and heart of someone who has battled infertility. Looking back, my journey through this great unknown was sad, but not hopeless. In the end, by reminding myself that life is not about me or what I had planned, but about faithfully following God, even when it doesn’t make sense, allowed me to lay this burden down and find peace and acceptance in Him. Life without kids is just as important, fulfilling and rewarding, as life spent as a parent. There IS life after infertility; embrace it and live it to the fullest!!