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.