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.



Amy R. Maxwell said...

I did not realize that you had this BLOG up and going again. I praise God for your honesty and transparency . . . Infertility - wow! Indeed, a painful burden for women to bear. The end of this month marks 9 years that we have been trying to conceive. Even though the Lord has blessed us with our adopted daughter, Lydia, my heart still yearns for more children. I yearn to feel a child nestled in my womb. This month has been one of the hardest months for me in dealing with infertility.

I, too, have mastered my emotions when it comes to couples announcing THE NEWS. I have seasons of contentment, and seasons of heartache. Recently, someone announced that they were pregnant. I am truly happy for this couple, but for some reason their news brought out the absolute worst in me. Unbelievable. I woke up the next morning angry and "ticked off" at my lot in life. My heart burned with jealousy like that of Rachel. How disgusting and selfish I am.

God blesses through children, so why won't He bless us? He knows our deepest longings to have a house full of children. Why has He chosen to not make our quiver full? Why has my "childhood dream" of having babies been shattered? Why is it SO EASY for other folks to get pregnant (and some often think that this is but a nuisance) and here we wait, salivating like dogs?

But as the WORSE was brought out in me this past month, the BEST was brought out in God. O, how I praise Him for His goodness and mercy! He always draws me back. Patiently. Lovingly . . . And in Him, I find, once again, contentment in HIS WILL for my life. Who am I to scoff and shake my fist at the one who directs my path? Who am I to question His will for my life?

It is difficult to sift through the emotions of infertility . . . For children ARE a good gift and our desire for children IS a good thing. But, as a dear sister reminded me in my moment of grief, be careful to discern and lay aside the grief that stems from "the flesh". A hard truth to swallow.

Whether our quivers are full, empty, or contain but a single arrow, I pray that we all will find contentment and joy in God's perfect will for us - and to even embrace and redeem the unique gifts and extra time He gives to those who do not have a whole house to steward and train.

I mourn and yet rejoice WITH you, dear sister!

May trials and temptations hunt you into the Scriptures. (Martin Luther)

Connie said...

I'm really glad that I found your blog (via Purple Cellar comments)! I hear you AND I understand--even though I'll be 46 in April (I'm probably old enough to be your, uh, er, ahem, "older" sister) Ha!

We were childless for 19 yrs. of our almost 24 yr. marriage, and boy do I wish there was such a thing as "blogging" during that time! Oh yea, not only have I experienced infertility, like you, I am the wife of a pastor, too!

Gotta tell you, no matter how deep the pain and dark the days--God IS at work in you!!! If you haven't noticed it already (just go back and read some of your posts) He is molding and refining you through infertility. I attribute my love for and understanding of theology to my "childless" days--not that I would have CHOSEN that, it's just how God worked it. And, He taught me about His sovereignty in a way that has deeply marked me (for the better).

Just wanted to say "hi" and tell you how I appreciate you seeking to glorify God through this! Oh yea, I noticed on one of your other blogs that you have a link to Southern Seminary. Did your husband (and/or you) attend/graduate from there? If so, did you have any classes under Dr. William (Bill) Cutrer? He was my OB/GYN in Dallas while we were at DTS (Dallas Theological Seminary)--Dr. C. took some of the same classes we took! I'll always be grateful for God providing a Christian doctor during those days--we discussed class/theology during almost every one of my appointments (and there were LOTS of them!). Small world!

Anonymous said...

Hi Glenna,
I just read your post on "The News" and it totally resonated with me. IN my church there were 14 babies born in 2007 and we only have 150 members in attendance. pretty rough, needless to say. Most of my dear friends are very sensitive to me though and sweet. But the people who don't really know what i'm going thru, are totally tactless.
on another note, i can't believe your adoption went thru so fast. in Canada, it takes about 10-15 years for a domestic adoption to go through. I hate it. I've been thinking about adoption a lot lately and wondering if God might lead us there...
check me out at (can't remember if i left this already or not!) :)