Monday, April 25, 2016

Infertility? Don't Suffer In Silence #startasking

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week! Before I had children, I never realized how many women this affects. Most of my closest friends and family have had infertility issues and trouble conceiving or staying pregnant. These are not isolated events, but the women experiencing them can feel extremely isolated. My hope in sharing the stories of some of these women below is that it will encourage those suffering, and their friends and family to #startasking the right questions, instead of giving the wrong (and often unwanted) advice. If you'd like more information on how you can get involved, you can visit God bless!

It's difficult for me to feel qualified to write to you- me with two happy, healthy, golden-haired babies in the next room. You probably look at me and think that I couldn't possibly understand your pain. No one could... Maybe you struggled only for a short time, as I did. Maybe your journey has just begun. Or maybe you've experienced years of pain and disappointment and even loss. Whatever your story is, you wake up every single day with a stabbing pain of emptiness... something is missing and you don't know why.

But you need to know you're not alone.

I know. It's easier said than done... when well-intentioned family members keep asking when you're going to have a little bundle of joy and everyone you know is getting pregnant. You smile politely with sad eyes, and buy another baby shower gift. You tell yourself it's just not your turn. But after a while, you start to consider that maybe- just maybe- this is God's way of telling you that you aren't meant to have children. And when you are brave enough to share with others, sometimes it backfires. They're all experts, of course. Because their mother's cousin told them if you'll just RELAX it'll happen. You're thinking about it too much. Have you tried lifting your hips afterward? Clearly you're doing it wrong, and why don't you just adopt?

I remember how it felt... I remember that pain. The blame I put on myself. Even now, I remember how a month in between cycles can feel like a year and three minutes watching for a pink line can feel like a lifetime and 16 months can feel like an eternity of nothing but waiting that ends in disappointment that takes your breath away. An hour at a baby shower isn't much better... you feel surrounded and bombarded and STILL... alone. No one understands...

But can I just share with you for a minute? These are only a handful of nearly a hundred stories of women who were gracious enough to share their hearts with me about their own personal struggles with trying to conceive and infertility. Do you see anything to which you can relate?

"No one truly understands what it feels like to struggle to conceive. The comments people make can truly break a person's heart. I was told so many different things, "maybe this is God's way of showing you that you shouldn't have kids." Statements people made were hurtful. It is a situation that truly takes up every thought of every day! We become consumed and depressed and it is a struggle to even be a functioning adult at times."

"it is painful to get so many baby shower invites. SOmetimes play dates with friends who have 3 or 4 kids is hard to watch. That sometimes I feel like less of a mom with my 1 kiddo. [I wish] that people would rejoice when they find out they are pregnant again with #4 and not roll their eyes or gripe.
It is a gift. A precious gift. And it is a real struggle."

"Everyone said, " you just need a few hormone shots and then it'll happen"...or " why don't you just don't IVF?" Many don't realize the cost of infertility...we were looking at $15,000 for "treatments" to hope they take in that one shot... It's important to understand that we are not childless because we choose to be, but it's because we are childless that we have to make difficult decisions to be able to create the family we desire... And those decisions are often accompanied with heartache and stress. Many don't understand grieving the loss of a child you never had- but that loss is Oh so painful and we relive it every time we explain why we don't have our own child."

"I wish people knew that adoption is not second option or sloppy seconds for us. We, obviously, grieve that we are unable to conceive, but we count it as a massive blessing that our first child will be adopted. Also, there are other things happening in my life. Please talk to me about something other than my infertility or future babies. The Lord is good and fulfilling even when I don't have a child."

"How exhausting it is. Everyone thinks they have an idea, but unless you have tracked, recorded, timed, watched discharge, medicated, and scheduled, you have no idea how much goes in to it. And you have to do all of that while still trying to keep the fire alive and not make it a "job", even though it really is. You put so much time and effort into wanting it so unbelievably badly, that it does become a job. A job that you love and do your very best at, but can't ever seem to get that raise..."

"I'm terrified to lose friends and family because I don't know what their going through and they'll start to cut me out. And most of all I'm so scared my husband will change his mind about being ok with not having a kid and leave me for someone who can give him what he truly wants. Everyone says it takes time and to be patient and that's easy for them to say because they have no idea the pressure I'm putting on myself."

"It hurts my heart so much... And I don't talk about it"

Oh, friend... you're not alone... not by a mile. There are women all around you with the same sad eyes. They carry the same burden on their shoulders. They feel the same pit in their stomachs each and every time they pass a baby in the grocery store. They stare at themselves in the mirror and wonder why... Why me? And they want to feel understood too... So here's what I want you to do.


Start asking for hands to hold and reminders that you are MORE than your struggles. Start asking friends and family to get involved. Remind them that you're not looking for advice, you're looking for advocacy. You want support, not suggestions. They love you. They'll understand.

One more thing... I want you to take a long moment with yourself and remember that you are NOT less of a person because of infertility. Your heavenly father sees you and He has laid out an entire story of beauty and redemption for you... He is near to the brokenhearted. He is GOOD even when your circumstances don't feel that way. #startasking Him for peace...