**Disclaimer: the post below is probably one of the most honest I have ever written here, but I felt like I needed to say it and share my experience. Really I just want people to open their minds and hearts to compassion for others. I love comments, but please be nice :). Thanks for reading!**
I've been stewing over this post for quite some time now. The journey towards writing it really started back in October/November when I had an awkward conversation with a woman in my small group. That conversation led me to the realization that there is so much I have gained from infertility for which I am thankful. And, while I was angry and hurt by this woman's words, I realized that she is not alone in her opinions and that really saddens me. From the outside, I could totally envy her life. She has four beautiful, easily conceived girls and lives in a beautiful house with a finished basement. She has a good heart and I truly believe she does her best to be a good wife/mother/friend. So, then, what beef do I have with her? Basically, it's one I'm beginning to have with a lot of people and it's the idea that we are entitled to our beautiful lives and healthy children and that somehow those who do not have those things are not deserving of them. And, you want to know the truth? Prior to going through infertility, I felt the same way. I felt completely entitled to my wonderful life with my handsome husband. I felt like I deserved my home, my wealth, and my middle class status. I looked at people who struggled and judged them... Thinking that somehow they were doing something wrong. I hate that I felt that way and writing that just now took my breath away.
I am not proud of who I was. I am not proud of the fact that I lacked compassion for others and judged people for their decisions. Prior to going through infertility, I definitely wondered why people ever went through IUI/IVF to get pregnant... Shouldn't they "just" adopt? Shouldn't they consider living child-free? Shouldn't they think about why they are infertile? Writing that down puts a knot in my stomach. I. just. didn't. get. it.
The sad thing is I know some people still feel that way. Good people who should have compassion on others and their situation. The woman I mentioned above basically told me that although God called her to have a fourth baby, she doesn't think he called me to go through IVF. So. hurtful.
I look at her seemingly perfect life and then back at my chaotic, challenging one and I wouldn't trade places with her for the world. The grass is not greener on the other side. I will never say that I am glad I went through infertility, but I will say that I am glad I was able to learn and grow from the experience. It changed me in ways I am still realizing. I have changed my outlook on people who suffer because of it and I have changed my outlook on life. On days when I want to complain about my ten hour work days (and working weekends), I instead take pause and lift up words of thanks for the job that I have. When I come across the story of someone who is suffering deeply, I no longer assume that they did something to deserve their situation, instead my heart aches for them. I have cried so much in last year for other people and I am thankful for that. Just last week I was innocently browsing Pin.terest when I came across a story of a woman who had twins, but lost one at 8 days old to a rare genetic disorder and all I could do was cry. Cry for the unfairness of it all. Cry for the pain of losing a child. I cried because my eyes have been open to the pain of others and I can no longer sit around taking my life for granted. I no longer act as if I somehow deserve the life I've been given. I can no longer pretend that I am somehow entitled to all of this. And I do my darndest to open my heart to compassion rather than judgment.
In light of this I have a plea, one that relates directly to the ALI (adoption, loss, infertility) community (because this is, after all, an infertility blog): Instead of either silently or verbally judging those of us going through the pain of infertility, take a moment to actually listen to our stories and our struggles. Do not assume that if you were in our shoes you would somehow pick a different path, because until you have been here you do not really know what road you would take. Please refrain from telling us that "God gave us infertility" or that we should "just adopt" or that "God knows best". Maybe those are truths, but please do not force them down our throats, let us come to our own conclusions. Just listen to us. And, if you feel the need to say something, choose your words wisely. You don't have to have all the answers. Sometimes all I wanted to hear from family/friends was a simple, "I'm sorry you're going through this. I have no idea what it's like, but I'm always here to listen." Or just tell us that it sucks and that you hope some day we have our happy ending (instead of trying to declare to us what our happy ending should be). And if, for some reason, you are unable to offer kind words of support, love, and compassion, please do not say anything at all. Silence is better than judgment, no matter how well intentioned it may be.
Act more compassionate and less entitled, it's that simple.
What has been the hardest thing someone has said to you on your journey? What would you have liked them to say?