****I am partnering with Fertility Matters Canada to blog about topics surrounding infertility. I was hoping to get a new one out, but as usual, I have left it to the last minute, so I just haven't had the chance to do it. AND SO, since tomorrow is "my" day, I thought that I would combine a few posts (though it is a new one for/with them) that I had done up relating to infertility. I in no way get any compensation from doing this. I do it b/c I want to get the word about infertility out there. Head on over, and take a look!!****
What does infertility look and feel like?
It knows no race, religion, or nor does it care whether you are rich or poor. It is lurking in the halls of your workplace, gym, school, and church...everywhere. It is the woman in the power business suit, the man biking in the park. The CEO of your company, the pastor of your church, the teacher at your local school. I could go on and on, but you get the idea. It doesn't care that you have bought 100's of dollars of pregnancy tests, prayed a million prayers, pleading with God to please, please give me a baby. It doesn't care that you have read the story of Hannah, Sarah, Elizabeth, and other women from the Bible who struggled to conceive, and finally got their baby, and you wishing that you would get yours. It doesn't care that you have cried a million tears, or (like me) if you don't cry, you still are upset and mad about the whole thing.
Each time you hear a pregnancy announcement, see a gender reveal picture (or go to a GR party), go to a baby shower, or see belly pictures, your heart hurts, and you die a little inside. Holding a baby can also be hard; some people don't even want to. Each time a holiday comes around, and your news feed fills with pictures of kids and their costumes, Christmas pageant costumes, pictures of them in their Easter best, it makes you hurt a little. You refuse invitations to baby showers, and grin and bare it during a baby baptism/dedication. You stay away from and family functions on Mother's Day, and even Father's Day sometimes. You tend to even shy away from family events in general; birthday parties, dinners, and family reunions, because you are tired of fielding questions from people about when are you going to have a baby, and/or you may be upset when they DON'T ask! Or you may not want to sit through another evening or wknd of watching and hearing young kids, because it makes you sad.
Chances are, there are couples in your circle that are dealing with this. Even if they don't talk about it openly and outright.You don't see them crying at night. You don't see the hurt in their eyes every time there's a baby dedication or baptism at church, the agony of going (or not going) to a baby shower, the sadness that each holiday brings. And don't let the fact the IF they have adopted fool you; yes, they have had a baby, but they still struggle with those thoughts and feelings. Believe me. It may not be as prevalent, or as near the surface (or maybe it is), but it is there. Adoption is no easy task, either, and I am not just financially. It's a whole other gambit of feelings...feelings I don't even know exist.
Infertility looks and feels different to each person it affects. And yet, it is the same for SO MANY of us!! For some, it is the constant lonely nights, knowing that you will never have your own (or adopt, foster, etc) child. For others, it is the constant financial strain; wondering where you are going to come up with the next few thousand dollars for another round of IVF (or IUI, etc). For others still, it is the constant hormonal strain with putting all those shots of hormones into you (ooooh, the shots!!!) to prepare your body FOR IVF, etc. Depending on "what" the culprit of your infertility is, one or both spouses are angry with the other, or angry with yourself, as you are unable to provide you both with a baby. You may have resentment towards each other. Others are angry at God. Trust me, whatever it feels or looks like, it isn't pretty.
It is another day of frustration when, people in your life say you shouldn't be grieving, or you should be "getting over it", or they really they don't understand what you are going through, and they don't know what to say. It is another day of sadness when someone asks you if you have kids, and you have to say no. It is another day of hopelessness when you pass by the baby (or even young child) section of the store, and knowing that you will probably never be able to buy something for your own little one. It is another day of wistfulness when you see a baby/pregnancy test/diaper commercial on T.V. It is another day of worry, when you have no idea on who will look after you in your old age. It is another day of restlessness, when you realize that you are being "left behind"; all your friends are having kids...heck having GRANDKIDS!!..and you are over in your corner, going..."here's my dog"! Seriously, though...you do get the feeling that you are being left behind. Another day goes by, and you wonder what is wrong with you; why aren't you a mother? Would I be a bad mother? Am I not good enough? Smart enough? Pretty enough?
Those are only some of the feelings and looks that go along with infertility. We need to stop feeling that way. We need to stop beating ourselves up. We need to give it over to God, who gives life in the first place. We need to have good friends and family that we can rely on. Find an outlet. Get a hobby. Get a job if you don't have one. Be an advocate for infertility.
Infertility isn't easy. It isn't pretty. It is messy. In its own way, however, it can be beautiful.
For those of use who are struggling...
Be kind to yourself.
Don't go to Baby showers if you don't want to.
Let yourself grieve.
Don't isolate yourself...
...but allow yourself to stay home if needed.
Don't feel the need to explain your thoughts and feelings.
...There are so many more I can post...but you get the idea...
For those who know someone who is struggling...
Let them grieve.
Don't pressure them to go to baby showers, etc...
..but don't presume they don't want to go, either. Invite them...they will go, or not go.
Don't ignore them (as in don't not invite them out, etc).
Don't automatically ask about adoption or fostering. It's not for everyone.
Don't spend all the time talking about your kids, and "mommy" things.
..again, there are so many more I could write, but those are a few .
So, there you have, folks! Just a few things that are going around in my head about this very sensitive and personal subject. It still needs to be more, and I don't even know on how/what it would look like.