In my journey to parenthood, I have heard it all–every suggestion, opinion, and comment on how I should get pregnant and have a family. I know the intentions of every word hopefully came out of love. However when walking this agonizing journey, there are some things better left unsaid. The words spoken over me have sometimes been incredibly painful to hear and have left me completely broken and deflated from the faith and hope that exists so firmly in me. This journey is hard–And unless you have walked it, it is not always easy to understand the excruciating heartache that comes with an empty womb. It is not just about the fact that you are not pregnant or struggling to bare a child, it is the social settings we are put in that sometimes force the pain of infertility deeply tucked in our hearts to come out.
For myself, I have blogging my journey for awhile now, so perhaps I opened the doors for some of these hurtful words of “advice.” However, if I have learned anything from this journey and from what people have so openly expressed to me, it is that it is important to always let love come out of you. Sometimes letting love come out of you is sitting in silence so your friend can have a shoulder to cry on (which is not the time for you to offer tips of what worked for you or your friend-just to be there and listen). Sometimes showering a person in hope and faith-writing them a card or just telling them you are thinking of them is love. It is the little things that really make a difference in this journey. I have had a lot of support, praise Jesus, on my walk to Motherhood. Although, I have still heard everything. The following are some of my own personal experiences of opinions, advice, and comments that were expressed to me on my journey to parenthood that I would recommend steering clear from…
“You just aren’t ready to be a Mother. God needs more time on you.”
Wow. I was dumbfounded when I heard these words. “Did she really just tell me that?” I didn’t even know how to respond, it caught me off guard. What I did know was that I was deeply hurt by these words spoken so casually over me. How dare she say that to me? At that point we had been struggling with infertility for over 2 years…and God needed more time? God didn’t need more time. I have always known I would make a great Mother. It is a special part of me that I know God made in me. However, my journey to Motherhood has been long and tiring, and yet so beautiful. God has used me in my walk and revealed Himself to me in ways I never knew. I have a better understanding of His love and His perfect timing because of all the intricate details He laid before me in my story. Perhaps that’s why it took so long.
“Are you sure you you’re having enough sex.”
Really? First off, is it any of your business?
When you are actively trying to have a baby, you have sex. A lot of it! The fact that I don’t ovulate on my own has never made it easy for me to “know” exactly when to have sex. Even though I knew we were doing everything we could to make a baby on our own, this question made me feel like we were falling short of “doing everything we could” as often as possible to make a baby.
“The reason you aren’t pregnant is because of all of the sin in your life. I really feel like you need to ask God for forgiveness.”
It still makes me angry when I think back to this manipulating and hurtful conversation. We all sin…every single day. Why anyone would actually speak these words to someone trying to conceive, I don’t know… I only wish in that moment, I stood up for myself and what I know God says about me. Instead, I was mortified and actually believed that that my empty womb was my punishment because my sins.
“At least you can just have fun and enjoy each other while you’re trying”
Timing sex so we could make a baby is not glamorous or fun. In fact it takes more work and can be stressful if anything else. There were countless times where we had sex because just maybe I was ovulating. I never really knew when I was ovulating, but I knew it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have sex. There wasn’t anything romantic about it. I am sure Ryan felt used, especially when I walked into the room saying “Honey, we need to have sex tonight,” as if it was a chore. God made sex to be beautiful and intimate-and fun. However, when the months go by and you are trying to continue to “enjoy each other,” things sometimes change. When we finally accepted that the chances of us actually getting pregnant in the most common natural way were not on our side, sex became so much better. The pressure was off and we could truly enjoy the moment instead worrying about if we were going to make a baby.
“Why don’t you just adopt?”
To be honest, adoption is a very sensitive topic for a woman struggling with infertility! Adoption has never been something that God put on our hearts. If adoption was something we were considering, I would have said so. There is nothing wrong with adoption. However, for us we did not feel called to adoption (And that is okay). It is wonderful that there are avenues like adoption for couples to take to build their family. However, for us this was not something we desired. Adoption and IVF, in my eyes, are so similar. They both cost a large chunk of money, are incredibly emotional, and don’t always guarantee a baby/child in the long run. So whatever avenue a couple chooses in their journey to parenthood it should, ultimately, always be respected and supported.
“Just relax and try not to stess.”
There was this one night where I lived “just relax and try not to stress” to it’s fullest! Ry and I went out to dinner and had a great night with some of our dearest friends. It was a night full of fun and laughter. After dinner, we were driving down the road and spontaneously pulled over and had sex in the car. It was fun, unplanned, and incredibly stress-free. Did I get pregnant? No. I just had a fun night with my husband. However, I remember thinking “we have to be pregnant because that was definitely no stress sex.” Seriously. Telling someone who is struggling to get pregnant, “just relax and it will happen,” may be true for some, but not for everyone. Trying to get pregnant can be incredibly stressful, especially when the months and years pass and everyone around you is having babies. I am sure there is some truth to relaxation and actually getting pregnant… However, for me, I knew because of PCOS the odds were majorly against me. Without ovulation, it would have been a pure miracle for me to fall pregnant naturally.
“I didn’t know if I should tell you I was pregnant because I didn’t want to make you feel bad.”
I know everyone is different. And maybe for your infertile friend, she may not even want to know you are pregnant. So, keep in mind that everyone is different. In the last few years, A LOT of my friends have gotten pregnant. At times, it was torture. I have some horror stories about people who told me they were pregnant and how I responded. However, for me, deep down in my heart, I never wanted someone to feel bad for sharing their special news with me. This comment just makes me feel like they were walking on egg shells around me and I never wanted the people in my life to feel that way. Usually, I was able to celebrate and embrace that special moment with my friend. Yet, immediately after I would need my own time to process the news, which usually consisted of me balling my eyes out like a baby. I learned to have grace for my unwanted feelings and to feel what I needed to feel-even if it meant grieving my own babies or the jealousy that fumed within me because she was pregnant and I was not.
“I totally know what you’re feeling. It took us 6 months to get pregnant.”
I understand that for any woman trying to conceive each month that passes that you are not pregnant can be really hard, even if it is just a couple months. I, however, have experienced several months of not being pregnant. The thing is, 6 months is nothing. Some people wait 10 years before they finally become pregnant.
“I don’t know why you couldn’t just be open with us about when your IUI was.”
When Ryan and I starting seeking fertility treatment, we started off with 2 IUI’s. Neither were successful for us, which is why our next step was IVF. After our first failed IUI attempt, I was absolutely beside myself. My heart grieved my unborn babies for days. I had so much hope and faith that it would work for us and instead it was entirely heartbreaking. Ryan and I made the decision to not tell our family and friends when our insemination date was because if we got pregnant, we wanted to be able to do something special to tell them we were pregnant, instead of a phone call. Sadly, it didn’t work in our favor and instead we made phone calls that we were not pregnant (even though no one even knew we had already had the insemination). Most people responded in love and empathy and even came over to love on us, as they knew we needed the support of our friends and family. However, we did not please everyone by choosing to keep our IUI date between us. We actually received some criticism for making that decision. All I can say is this: whether you choose to fully expose every single step of your journey to parenthood or only keep it between you and your husband, it doesn’t matter. Both choices are completely right. In the midst of my grief, I found myself consoling this person and actually apologizing for keeping it a secret. Seriously, in the midst of my grief… Looking back, I find it completely unacceptable. We handled the steps in this journey the best that we could. Things changed for us when we moved forward to Invitro. Talk about an open book-I shared everything and even posted pictures via Facebook on our retrieval and transfer days. Exposed. Again, our choice, and not for everyone.
The insensitive opinions of our parents, friends, and strangers can aid in making this journey so hard. I know you may mean well, but really be intentional about your words when speaking to the woman who so desperately wants to be a Mother. Have empathy for your friend, sister, or wife who is struggling to get pregnant. Sometimes she can’t be around your kids because it is just too hard. Sometimes going to baby showers or first birthday parties are too difficult to bare and truly might be a terrible idea. Sometimes spending Mother’s Day at home watching movies is better than being in public or at church because it is only a reminder that her womb is in fact empty. Be sensitive to conversations and to social settings. Your infertile friend doesn’t always want to talk about your kids the whole time. The best thing you can do is be there. Listen when she needs to vent or be her shoulder to cry on. Be encouraging and hopeful! Pray for them and their unborn children. Try and learn what it means to walk through infertility so you can understand to the best of your ability how hard this journey must be for her. Let love come out of you because love brings hope to people.