Monday, February 19, 2007

handling "The News"

One of the tricky things about infertility is how to react to the news of pregnancy from friends or family.

What's hard about it is that deep down inside, maybe in a cobwebbed corner of the heart....the infertile person is happy for a friend who is expecting. There is some joy--no matter how big or small--when news of a new life reaches the ears of an infertile person (let's just say "woman", though since that's what I am). I mean, it IS a new person--a new life--that is something to be celebrated! But, it's the initial reaction to The News that is difficult to handle.

A couple of years ago, when William and I were just figuring out that something might be "wrong" with us because time had passed and we were not conceiving, it became real apparent real fast that the rest of the world would not just stop having babies just because we couldn't have one. I don't know what I expected--maybe that no one else would have a baby until I had one? That's silly, but there's some sort of completely ridiculous expectation that I had that people would have the courtesy to stop having babies until I could have at least one. If you're not infertile, then you're probably wondering what kind of selfishness had possessed me. If you are inferile (or have been in the past), then I'm sure you know what I mean. Yes, it's selfish, but that's something that infertile people really struggle with. At least I do. When I realized that the rest of humanity would continue to reproduce despite our failed attempts at doing the same, it then became an issue of how to handle the situation when people excitedly told me their News of pregnancy.

I learned quickly how to paste a smile on my face and to mumble something about "how happy" I was for them. Usually, though, I felt the blood rushing to my face and away from the rest of my body while faking a smile. Sometimes I thought I might faint....of jealousy? Is that possible? Or maybe....I was embarrassed. Embarrassed that I could not achieve what seemed to be the most basic of things to being a woman. (As if any of us truly has control over anything! That's funny!) I don't know. My logic has always been flawed when it comes to infertility, but I always had a hard time controlling my emotions in the beginning when people shared The News with me. It was especially difficult being part of a church community that valued the family so very much and encouraged families to grow. At any given time, 4 or 5 women could be pregnant in the church (which always seemed like a lot per capita at that church). I remember during the first year of TTC, at one point there were NINE babies due in our little church! I guess that it was during that time that I became a pro at handling The News in public. (Or so I thought, anyway.) Maybe it was the frozen smile plastered on my red face. Maybe it was the tears that always inevitably rushed to my eyes. Maybe it was my absence of heartfelt congratulations. Or maybe people just simply did the math and knew that we wanted children but nothing was happening and sensed it might be a difficulty. Whatever it was...people began to sense that blurting out The News in my presence in a large group of people wasn't the best of ideas. I have to admit....the sensitivity that people acquire sometimes seems to be a Godsend.

It was not long until people began to tell me The News through a phone call or a one-on-one conversation. Even though it was still hard to take....I appreciated being able to react in the privacy of my own home. I appreciated very much.

When we moved to Missouri, we moved to a church with an "older" congregation. Most people had grown children or at least elementary age children. A few younger couples close to our age began to pick up on our desire to have children....our high view of the family....our view of children as a blessing from the Lord. And since then...some couples decided to add to their families. And now, we are in the midst of our own small baby boom at church. Once again I am having to get used to handling The News. I can't say that I enjoy it, but time has passed and now I realizing that sometimes in life you have to stop being selfish, and you have to recognize that God chooses to bless others in ways that are for their good all the while blessing you in a way that is good for you. One way is not better than the other. It's just different. And you must rejoice with those who are rejoicing.

I'm not saying it is ever easy. It's never easy for me. But, it's not the same as it was 3 years ago. Maybe God is pulling away some of that selfishness. I'm talking about one tiny speck at a time....but maybe He is at work.

And, if you happen to be reading this and you have to pass on The News to a person struggling with infertility, let them know in a letter or email or phone call so they can react privately and then be genuinely happy for you when they see you in person. Sometimes we just need to be able to cry in private, to grieve over a dream that may never come to life, to get out our emotions without having to worry about people around us. If you are reading this and you broke The News to me in this way.....thank you. It matters. It matters to me.


Sunday, February 11, 2007

Struggling today. There seem to be babies everywhere, and people having babies, and people ooing and ahhing about babies and pregnancies. I feel surrounded by it, as though I can't escape it. Even my lessons (both this week and next week) for the kids' Sunday School class have something to do with babies being born and barren couples being given children of promise. I don't know why it is striking a nerve with me so, but today it feels suffocating. I'm tired of watching other people living in abundant blessing, families growing without ever even acknowledging that that might be something one cannot simply expect. I don't mean that I'm angry that others are blessed in the area of family growth and I'm not. I mean, that people just expect this, as if it's a right. I guess I used to live that way too. I don't know why it bothers me so.

I won't pretend to be strong today. My heart, it hurts today.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Questions about Suffering

Another month of trying to conceive (TTC) comes quickly to a close for me. As I inch closer and closer toward the 3 year mark (April), I am trying to take a new view of infertility. The thought of beginning a 4th year of TTC is hard to swallow, especially when friends are having their second and third children during the time that we've tried unsuccessfully to have our first. I sure never thought I'd be here. It seems that so often I say to myself, "I will not be here next year--I will not be battling infertility this time next year, I will be a mother a year from now." As if I can control any of this! If I've learned anything, I've learned that I have no control. As much as I want to do something to change this, I can't. It's just not within my reach. And I guess that's a good thing.

William and I have been talking a good bit about suffering lately. I don't know if infertility directly falls into the category of suffering, but some days it sure feels like it. But, my question is--Is suffering really such an undesirable thing? I mean, doesn't Scripture teach us that as we suffer we come to know Christ and His character more and more? I realize that we will always pray for children, will always pray for God to open my womb, will always pray that God would bless us with children however He deems appropriate. I can't imagine ever not
praying that. At the same time, should I always pray for suffering or difficulty to end in my life? If it is a means through which I may draw nearer to Christ, should I pray that it come to an end immediately? I'm convinced that Christ is more concerned about my holiness than my happiness. If that is true, should I be praying that my life be easier and "happier" ("happy" according to my standards, which would equal motherhood, I suppose) or should I be praying that God would refine me, make me holy, make me like His Son no matter the cost or process?

I do not know the direct answers to my questions. My husband heard a sermon on suffering that he wants me to listen to. When I do, I'll be sure and relate my reaction here. What if our church community taught us to rejoice in suffering instead of praying for an immediate end? How would that change our view of suffering?

Again, I know that far worse suffering than infertility exists in the world--I'm not even sure infertility qualifies. But, if it does, then I have a lot of questions....even as my heart yearsn for children today.

Feel free to comment.