I often say, “I’m over it” concerning infertility. Truth is, I am not over it at all! Living with infertility has been one of the hardest things I have gone through. After eleven years of trying to conceive, and being the open and honest person I am there have been many opportunities for me to talk about it. I love to share about how we have a son through adoption and how God orchestrated it all, yet there is also the frustration that comes with never receiving an explanation for our inability to conceive.
I am not sad all the time. On many days I accept this lot in life, and am really happy to share our story. But there are still those other days when living with infertility just feels heavy. Kind of icky, really.
Recently I was talking with a new acquaintance about how we were blessed with our son, and before I knew it we were talking about infertility. I didn’t realize I had opened the door to this tender area until I heard one of the very familiar responses. Attempting to put a bandage on the wound, she offered hope that I would become pregnant. She seemed sad for me, almost pitying. I wanted to slam my heart shut once I realized that we were both uncomfortable with the unfinished story. So I quickly replied with, “Oh I’m okay, really. I’m over it.” I’m not sure whether I was trying to protect her or me. Probably a little of both.
After conversations like this I wonder if maybe I’m too honest; or a little too real. Yet, I don’t believe there is such a thing. This is different than emotionally dumping. I have found that when I make myself vulnerable to friends and family, they aren’t trying to give advice or say hurtful things, rather they don’t know what to say. In the same way that I don’t know what to say to someone going through pain I’m unfamiliar with.
The truth is, none of us get an instruction manual to help us know what to say during difficult times. As I’ve lived this out, I have found comfort in some of my friends’ words and gestures. If you know someone close to you living with infertility, here are a few things that can be helpful on difficult days:
A listening ear with no suggestions or advice.
Just a hug, a nod, and sharing tears together says a thousand words.
Admitting that you have no idea what I am going through.
Those words mean more than you can imagine. They validate that I am facing a very hard season, and bring recognition to the pain that others don’t see or talk about.
Don’t be afraid to talk about it.
I have friends who have traveled this (very) long road with me. When they ask me how I’m really doing, it sends me a message that they have not forgotten what I face daily, and they are not tired of hearing about it.
Be okay with hearing that I am not okay.
Some days/months are harder than others for many reasons. You don’t have to fix the problem; letting a friend be real and cry brings more healing than words ever could.
Act on those little nudges to send a card or gift.
This speaks volumes. Infertility is very isolating especially when close friends move on with their own pregnancies. When I’ve received a little bit of sunshine through a gift or a note it reminds me that I’m not forgotten, I’m not walking this road alone, but someone is thinking about me.
These suggestions can apply to any type of heartache. I hope that if I have learned one thing, it is to be more compassionate to others going through trials that I haven’t experienced first-hand. Even if we don’t understand, I believe we can all relate to pain.
This is my story of how I’m living with infertility. I’m not over it, just doing my best to accept the life I’ve been given. Maybe that is what I will say next time I have an awkward conversation!