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5 Things You Wish You Could Tell Your Fertile Friends
A blog by Chelsea Ritchie, February 11, 2015
Ever been there? That place, that moment, when you look around the room and realize you are the only person without kids? The conversation drifts in and out as you refresh your thinking, “was up all night with johnny .. so tired .. love when they snuggle all morning … watched too much tv yesterday with them … need a night out … love them more than I knew was possible … love the boppy, although I would recommend … ” You catch snippets of conversation, knowing that you have nothing to offer and for just a moment, you want to weigh in and let your friends know these 5 things …
1) We are happy for you, we really are. I would not wish the pain of infertility or secondary infertility on anyone. However, just because I am happy for you doesn’t mean that there aren’t moments where my sadness eclipses my happiness. There is nothing you can do about it and I don’t ask that you sit and wallow with me all the time. I just simply ask that as you share, try your best to remember that your audience is not all the same. Acknowledge the hard but also express the good things. There is nothing in the world that I would like to do more than participate in the conversation based on personal experience. If I chime in and tell you about something a friend told me, be kind. Please don’t shoot down my thoughts, even if you are laughing at me in your head, knowing that the reality of my world doesn’t offer me the same hands-on experience you have. I am just trying to not feel excluded so please offer me grace if I say something ridiculously stupid like “I heard ginger tea might help your morning sickness.” I can only imagine how hard motherhood is and can’t wait for the day I can really join in on your conversation. We do care about your tough times, but sometimes, we just feel a little jealous that we can't go through those tough times too.
2) Small gestures mean the world to us. A card, a text, a call or an email, simply acknowledging our struggles and recognizing that we are stuck, means so much. Just because time is passing by and we aren’t talking about it all the time doesn’t mean we aren’t thinking about it every minute of the day. I can go from feeling down and blue to feeling insanely encouraged simply due to someone reaching out. Even better, make a note of things like passed due dates and check in on us. Or remember us on Mother’s Day. These days are calendar landmines and an aching heart is instantly comforted when someone comes along side us. Your prayers mean the world too and simply letting us know we are being thought of touches us deeply.
3) We want to be friends with you, even if you have kids. We realize we cannot eliminate all child-bearing friends, nor do we want to! Thank you for inviting us to your child’s birthday party or your baby shower. There are good days and bad days and we appreciate your respect if we simply are having an emotional day and can’t make it. It’s not personal. We would rather be sad at home than bring pity upon ourselves or dimming your day. That being said, please keep inviting us. We don’t want to be isolated and alienated from our friends. It can be hard, but we love you just as you love us.
4) Please don’t give us advice on how to get pregnant or stay pregnant. We know your intentions are good. You are trying to help and we are grateful that you are making an effort. However, hearing every story about your neighbors cousin who struggled or sharing about this magic remedy called “take a vacation!” or “drink a bottle of wine!” doesn't help us. Every situation is so different, circumstances are never the same. Your stories are meant to give hope but can sometimes make us feel like everyone but us can magically fall and stay pregnant. If you don’t know what to say, don’t say anything, just listen. Also, adoption is not the magic cure-all for infertility and while you may have your own opinions on our situation, we politely ask that you respect our thoughts on where we are at and why. You can always assume that an infertile couple has thoroughly discussed all options they feel called to investigate and consider.
5) Infertility causes constant aching. I know that may sound dramatic, but infertility hurts every moment of every day. I know that and have experienced the fact that there is incredible comfort found in faith and a relationship with God, however there is no cure-all to the ache that our hearts feel. There are triggers all around us, from shopping at Target and seeing a new mom push her baby around to watching a Superbowl commercial that is centered around what it’s like to be a dad. The reminders of what we are missing haunts us, it invades our dreams and strikes in waves when we least expect it. Yes, there are moments where the pain is less intense, but it never truly goes away. Just keep in mind our tender hearts as you navigate the difficult waters with us.
But the truth is, we never really say any of this out loud. Most of the times in these situations we distract ourselves by making a grocery list in our head or counting ceiling tiles, waiting for the moment to pass. Now I realize not every woman struggling with infertility would express all of these, they are general thoughts based on personal experience and conversations with fellow strugglers, so what about you? What would you want to share if you could with your friends that have kids? Comment below!