Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Other Side of the Coin

The blog I posted the other day was directed to those who might make comments to the person on the journey through infertility, without thinking of the impact of those comments. A friend commented that I didn't give any advice about how to handle those comments with grace. She was right, I didn't. At the time, I was rather incensed by the fact that a friend had told me how lucky I was not to have children. That is indeed one of the most common and most hurtful things I hear as a woman who did not choose to be childless.

However, having our feelings hurt, or taking offense when there is not intent to hurt us, is not a healthy or Godly way to handle such comments or stinging reminders. That said, I want to put a disclaimer here before I begin the discussion. We are all in different places on this journey, so for some of us, it is much easier to handle things with grace than it is for others. Telling someone in the midst of their journey with infertility to "get over it" or "don't take comments so seriously" is like telling someone who just lost a family member not to grieve. This journey is filled with processes, places and perspectives that can change from day to day. It is an emotional roller coaster and indeed, the most difficult struggle I have ever faced in my life. I in now way want to discount what my sisters and brothers on the infertility road are going through. Please know that I love each of you so much and my prayer for all of you is that you will have the child you so desire, and that while you walk this mile, those around you will be gentle, supportive and caring.

So, how do we handle comments that are not intended to hurt, yet bring pain like acid to the surface of our pleasant facade? For me, that kind of grace only came once I was able to accept that God had a plan and purpose for my life and that children might no be part of it. That took years and it was only after every option had been exhausted. In retrospect, I can offer some advice that I didn't use myself during our journey through drugs, doctors visits, marital stress and begging God for a child.

  • Remember that most people are not trying to be cruel, they just don't understand the impact of what they are saying.
  • Keep a journal so that you can vent your frustrations and hurt feelings.
  • Know that there are things in everyone's life they wish were different. We all have our own pain. While we are in the midst of our own, it is sometimes difficult to realize the person who just broke our heart, may be broken-hearted too.
  • Realize that helpful advice, such as "you can always adopt," or "My mom's aunt tried...(fill in the blank)...and had 4 kids." is their way of trying to show you that they care.
  • Give yourself permission to share your pain over infertility and/or childlessness. They can't know if you don't tell them.
  • Pray for yourself and ask others to do the same. When they are praying for you, they will feel more vested in your situation and in turn will be more sensitive naturally. 
Beside the Empty cradle has an entire chapter about this topic. It is not cut and dried and there is no simple answer. My faith in God is the only way I could get through this and come out with my joy in tact. Know that no matter what you're going through, Jesus knows your pain, and he loves you so much. Give your friends and family some grace and trust that they love you too. 

Blessings everyone, 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


I went to a fundraising gala this weekend for Second Harvest Community Foodbank. It was a thirties themed party and we had a wonderful time dressing up, socializing, and honoring the organization and several humanitarians they recognized during the evening. As I was relaying the events of the weekend to a friend, she told me she was jealous of me because I could still have a social life like we did in highschool. I was surprised by her thoughtless comment.

"No, seriously? I do not follow visiting basketball teams to McDonald's and give them my number."

I thought she would laugh, realize what she said, and that would be the end of the discussion, or, maybe we would spend a few moments reminiscing about our silliness, almost 30 years ago. Instead,  she thought I needed further explanation of her comment.

“I mean you are free to do what you like, because you aren’t tied down to kids and your husband lets you have fun. You are lucky not to have to worry about kids every time you want to go out.”

It’s comments like this that can bring me to the brink of tears and laughter at the same time.  I don’t think I will ever understand comments like these. Over the years I have had women tell me they wish they could trade places, ask me if I wanted their kids, and roll their eyes toward me as their child asks for yet another toy at the store then say, “You are so lucky you don’t have to deal with this stuff.”


Newsflash to the parenting world, those of us who are childless, not by choice, would trade with you in a heartbeat, except we would NEVER wish the inability to have children on anyone.

Yes, I know that most parents are kidding when they say these things. They are just relieving stress, laughing instead of crying etc. I also understand that parenting is not an easy task. It lasts a lifetime and includes its own set of unique trials, tribulations, and heartache along with the joy, incredible moments of pride and love like no one but a parent can know. Still, when statements like that are made to someone on the infertility journey, it is anything but funny.

The amount of pain inflicted by careless remarks is staggering. If you ask 100 childless couples how often they hear these types of things, or the dreaded advice from everyone from grandma to the grocery clerk, they will tell you that it is a minimum of once a week. Usually more.

So, while we will do our best to overlook the insensitive moments, because we all have them. Please do us a favor, and think about who you are talking to before you speak.

Yes, it’s true that I have the freedom to attend social events with or without my sweet hubby and that I never have to find a sitter, call in to check on things or get home before ten because my sitter has homework to finish. However, had God decided that children were in His plan for my life…I would have gladly arranged childcare or, more likely, stayed home and made memories with them.  

God Bless Everyone!