“Don’t you want kids?” | The secret burden of infertility
Today’s post is a little bit heart-breaking. It’s written by a friend of mine who wishes to remain anonymous. She and her husband have struggled with infertility for too long. It’s a subject that most of us know little about unless we’ve explored it from the inside, but it’s a subject too important to exclude when talking about women empowering women, because so often we actually disempower one another without even realizing it, simply through our flippant remarks, “friendly” teasing, or unsolicited advice. My hope is that perhaps by reading someone’s perspective who has not only been there but is still there, we might have a paradigm shift and be able to better support those who are hurting among us. I’m learning so much from my friends who are dealing with infertility. I hope you will, too.
I look at the calendar and count backwards. It’s true. My period was due today.
As one day passes, then another, my excitement grows yet I’m too afraid to speak the possibility. I wonder if I should stop by the supermarket and get a pregnancy test. No – I tell myself – tomorrow is my husband’s birthday and I catch myself dreaming about being able to tell him I’m pregnant. I couldn’t imagine a better gift to give him after years of waiting and “trying”.
I sit there hoping that my husband hasn’t caught on that I’m late – he’s normally so in tune with my cycle, which sometimes makes it harder especially when I’m late.
As I wake up the next day I get that dreaded gut feeling that it’s coming and sure enough three days late on my husband’s birthday I get my period. My heart aches and I dread having to tell my husband that “I caught the rag train today” (his words not mine).
While driving home from work I begin to cry out to God, asking him why he lets me be late, asking him to stop doing that to me. I tell him if he’s going to me make have my period can he please make it be on time, every 26 days. I share with him that I’m getting weary and I can’t handle this emotional monthly roller coaster anymore…
26 days later:
I wake up feeling gross and groggy. I head off to work and am greeted by my good friend and colleague who’s coming up to 18 weeks of pregnancy and she’s holding the cake she made for morning tea for her big reveal of the gender.
As morning tea comes around I brace myself with a big smile to go in for the big reveal. The middle is blue and it’s a boy.
I stand around smiling, sharing my congrats, looking at the latest scan, and ohhhhh-ing and ahhhh-ing. I look at my watch and think I’ve done my fair share of joining in and slip out to the restroom to find that yep… another month and one more chance gone for becoming pregnant. I feel myself beginning to get angry and then I remember that I had asked God for this…. so I quietly thank him for hearing my cry and making it come on day 26.
There’s been so many moments over the last few years that have been a challenge. It’s hard because you don’t want to stand on a roof and yell, “look at me—poor me—I want kids but for some unknown reason God hasn’t given them to me!” Another challenge is having a spouse that processes things so differently to you… it’s so easy to feel angry and begin to take things out on him because he’s the closest, and since so few people know it’s hard.
Sometimes I think being around Christians it’s so much harder because they’ve got these expectations that you’re meant to have kids. So many assume that we’re newlyweds because we haven’t got them. Some have the nerve to ask,” do you want kids?” It hurts so much because who doesn’t want kids?
The other week I told my husband I felt like punching the neighbor guy who (it feels like always) is tossing his little 14 month old honeymoon baby girl in the air. He is so in love with his daughter. He smothers her with attention, laughs and giggles, and often looks at us and says, “you’ve got to get yourself one of these.”
So often I wish people had the common sense to think and maybe be more tactful or sensitive around us. Yet, at the same time I fear that close family and friends are beginning to tip toe around us about the topic. In the beginning I used to talk more to people about it but I found myself being faced with people who, out of love, thought they’d give me advice and tips.
One friend brought a book around which she thought would help us know when I’m ovulating. Another said, “just take the pill, it’ll up your fertility and you’ll be pregnant and no time.” Another recommended a woman’s fertility doctor who had the nerve to ask us if we knew what hole we were to be having sex in. Everyone seems to have something to offer and yet I don’t want a bar of it. Half of it offends me that people think I’m so ignorant.
There have been days when I sit with God with my heart aching and just asking Him to speak to me. And time and time again He shows up and speaks to me. Through these years of roller coasting up and down with emotions, the one thing that’s stayed true is God – He’s good and still God. I know I can trust Him. I know He had plans for me to give me a hope and a future. I know He will always be there and He will hold me.
For those of you wondering how to help your friends or family members who you think are in the same boat as me – I guess all I can recommend is be sensitive. I know you might mean well but sometimes the best thing to say is nothing. At the same time don’t hide things from them. I know I want to have joy and celebrate with those who celebrate and mourn with those who mourn. Life is a gift and we need to celebrate each and every bit, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Dear friends, have you made light-hearted remarks about a couple having children? I know I have. Before becoming a mother I didn’t understand these issues at all and I wish I could go back and be more sensitive in certain conversations where I was well-meaning but ignorant. I hope my friend’s words have shed light on this sensitive issue for you today and that we’ll all be empowered to become better friends to those among us who battle with these issues.
And for those of you who aren’t strangers to this battle, what has been your experience with hurtful comments and how would you suggest us loving you better? (Feel free to comment anonymously if you’d prefer.)