One of my favorite things about the internet is its capacity to unite people from drastically different journeys, backgrounds, beliefs and experiences. It provides this invisible tie (a cord, if you will) that connects us and provides us the opportunity to lean on each other - to love on and support each other.
This week is National Infertility Awareness Week, providing us a unique opportunity to give voice to the silent battles so many women fight every day.
By now you’re probably learning that’s one of our favorite things to do on cord - the heartbeat of what we do.
So here we stand, united by both the surreal beauty and unfathomable hardship of life, holding virtual “hands” with those women in our lives whose empty bellies remind theme every day of desires unmet and dreams unrealized.
Six Things Your Infertile Friend Won’t Tell You
1. It hurt my feelings more that you DID NOT tell me you were pregnant.
One of the soul sisters of my life struggled for years to get pregnant. I so vividly recall my trepidation when I picked up the phone to tell her about my positive pregnancy test. Would she be angry? Would she cry? Would our friendship be able to survive these next nine months and beyond?
Her response shocked me: she thanked me.
Thanked me for respecting her enough to make her one of my first phone calls. Thanked me for trusting our friendship enough to not let fear push her out of my inner circle.
A conversation that I anticipated testing our friendship actually made it stronger.
You know your friend - you know her heart, where she is on her journey, how best to tell her, but bottom line - tell her. Be gentle - be kind - be understanding.
It can be both offensive and patronizing to assume your friend “can’t handle” it. And it always sucks to be the last to know.
2. I can be happy for you and sad for me at the same time.
I am not limited to one emotion at a time. I have the capacity to feel both joy for you and deep, penetrating sadness for myself. Like any other human experience, fertility journeys are intimate and complicated. We must be careful not to project what we “might” feel unto others, but rather give them the patience and space to have an individual experience.
3. I may need distance.
I love you - I want you in my life. But there are moments (or weeks or months) when my sadness overwhelms me and my capacity to be around pregnant women and mothers is limited. Instead of assuming I need to be smothered with love and affection, please be sensitive and open to my need for space, whether I ask for it or silently create it for myself.
4. I may not want to come to your baby shower.
Or I may want to. But regardless, please give me space to make the decision that will guard my heart and protect our friendship. A day filled with baby products, poopy-diaper games and belly-rubbing may not be how I want to spend my Saturday. Oh, and please love me enough to not be offended. I may tell you outright or make an excuse, but thank you in advance for giving me grace.
5. I may be jealous of you - and feel guilty for it.
I don’t want to feel jealous - I want to be able to step outside myself and have nothing but Mother-Theresa-esque emotions of selfless love and support. But I’m human. Sometimes I’m overwhelmed with jealousy, sometimes I’m not - depends on the day, how much sleep I’ve had and how hungry I am.
6. My fertility doesn’t mean I can’t love your kids.
Yes, I wish I had children, and yes, this fertility journey is harder than many could ever imagine, but it doesn’t define me. “Infertile” is not all I am. I am still a woman - a friend - an aunt - a sister. And you give me a gift when you let me love your children.
So whether you are the "infertile friend" or the one who gets pregnant when your guy merely glances your way, let’s give each other grace. Let’s stop ourselves from pretending we “know exactly how” the other feels, but rather aim to love and support each other no matter what season of life.