Sunday, January 22, 2012

growing through infertility

**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?


  1. Beautiful post. Looking back it's amazing how much infertility has made me grow. I know I'm a better mother because of it, and I know it has made me so much more aware and compassionate to other people's pain. Thank you for writing this.

  2. Speak.the.truth.girl! Awesome post!

  3. Very nice post! I admire you for writing this.

  4. I could practically have written this post. Maybe with a few minor differences. But basically, my experience of RPL has pushed me through the same transformation you describe of becoming much less judgmental of other people. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

    ICLW # 8

  5. Great post! The hardest thing someone ever said to me was from my mother. I was visiting my family for the holiday and my younger sister was pregnant with her first. My Mother was rubbing on my sister's belly in front of me and I told her how hard it was for me to watch her do this.

    My mom then responded, "Just because you are suffering doesn't mean we need to hid our joy for your sister."

    It was very hard for me to hear but at the same time it was a true statement. All I wanted was my mother to recognize my pain.

    Happy ICLW #7

  6. This is an awesome post! I'm so glad you were brave enough to post who you really are/were. Thank you so much!

  7. Beautiful post :) I love it. I, too, reflect back on how I used to think about people who weren't as fortunate as me, and it makes me sad to know that I was so judgmental. My change of heart grew from the issues we had with getting pregnant. Funny how things work.

    The comment that has stuck with me came from my friend. When she learned of my miscarriage last year, she said something to the effect of: "Oh, there are so many people who miscarry. It's super common, so don't worry. You're in good company." I wanted her to respond with compassion, but instead her response made me very closed off in future discussions with her about fertility. Sadly, this same friend experienced a miscarriage last month, and I don't think she realized the pain I was going through until she experienced it, too. My heart hurt for her, and I know she reflected on how she reacted when I shared my news.

  8. Great post!!!!

    The most hurtful thing that anyone said to me was a statement from my own mother.... she believed that God had a plan for me and that when I deserved a child one would be given to me. Then she had the audacity after multiple IVFs to tell me that God had given me my pregnancy... YEAH RIGHT. Thats not any God I want to know or worship.

    There was nothing she could have said. It was too obvious how she felt. I guess just "im sorry".

  9. Fabulous post...

    When we were struggling with secondary infertility due to repeat pregnancy loss, someone who should have had more compassion said (in a very condescending, dismissive voice) "I don't know why you're so desperate to have another child." She totally ignored the incredible pain of our multiple losses and implied we should just stop trying.

    Honestly, I don't know what I would have wanted her to say because I've found out that she really doesn't have it in her to be compassionate when it doesn't directly affect her.

    ICLW #66

  10. There are so many things people have's insane that people just say what they think, whether or not they mean to be mean.

    Thanks for this post! HAPPY ICLW!

  11. Happy ICLW. Thanks for stopping by ny blog. Sometimes I feel like there just is no right thing to say. When someone's hurting, almost any remark can feel insensitive. I am always so afraid of saying the wrong thing in this situation. That said, I can't think of any majorly insensitive thing that's been said to me.

  12. Great post! I can also say that I was not as compassionate to other peoples stuggle's. As a teenage I would say "If I can't have kids I will just adopt..." little did I know I would spend 4 years waiting for my BFP. Although we have decided that we would go with adoption over IVF, everyone's choices are different, and each should be respected. I loved this post! Thank you!

  13. Great post! People have said many insensitive things to me (some of them invoking God - I am not the right audience for that). But what I ALWAYS wanted them to say to me was: "I love you and I am so sorry you are going through this." Then, following with sincere questions about treatment always made me feel like they cared too.

    Thanks for commenting on my blog. Happy ICLW!

  14. The hardest thing came from my mother-in-law. When she found out we were seeing and fertility doctor and going through fertility treatments she said that, "We were taking control away from God and not trusting Him to give us a child in His time." This came at a time when I was an emotional mess from Clomid. It did not go over well.

  15. GREAT POST. I've been feeling so down and hurt by a few people telling me just to "trust God" and let things happen they are questioning my faith. My journey has been no where near as long and painful as so many of you but man-o-man has it taught me a lot.