Sometimes people ask if it’s hard for me to be around their kids because of our infertility… the short answer is No. I don’t know if that’s true for everyone facing infertility. But it’s true for me. It does not upset me to be around and love on your children. They are so uniquely them, perfectly yours. The hard part, for me, has always been the pregnancy announcement and those bump photos. Does that sound strange? Maybe. As it is ultimately a child that I want, not just a pregnancy. But there is something so special about this period of growing life. When it’s ultrasound photos and “my baby is the size of a lemon,” when it’s almost like it’s just the idea of a baby… I find myself jealous. The excitement of new, of possibility. I want that. I want what you have.
Almost every day another friend or feed I follow shares the amazing news that they are expecting. I’m just at that age, and life…uh… finds a way. (More easily for some than others.) Our battle with infertility has made that a struggle for me.
Guys, I used to love pregnancy announcements! Seeing creative ways of informing the world and then watching those growing baby bumps. I would pore over those photos and imagine what it would be like when it was my turn. It was uncomplicated and easy to be thrilled for these soon-to-be mamas. And then infertility stole that joy from me. Infertility made pregnancy announcements a source of hurt, isolation, shame, and guilt. Look what they have. Look what I don’t have. What if I never will? I wonder how long it took them to conceive. I bet it was easy. I’m so happy for them. I’m sad for me. I’m the worst person in the world because their great news made me feel bad. You better just shove that down. No one will understand that ugliness.
As time has passed, some of that pain has eased. I’m still not pregnant. I’m still waiting for it to be my turn. But I am handling my feelings better. It’s taken time, but I’m finding it easier to process my sadness separately from their happiness.
How am I doing that?
Well, for one… I attempt to think through things rationally and not let my immediate feelings dictate my response. I remind myself that their baby is not the baby I am waiting for. Their pregnancy does not mean I cannot also be pregnant. (I mean, duh… but it helps to talk myself through it.) I remind myself that they are allowed to have children and share that joy. It’s only hard for me because I want to do that too. But just because this has proven a difficult journey for me doesn’t mean other people are required to wait. Their celebration is not an attack on me and my infertility. And also… I want to be part of that celebration. I don’t want to miss out on sharing their joy. I have to remind myself that this is not a race. So often I have found myself feeling like I was stuck at the starting line while other women came up from behind and blew right by me. Hey! I entered this race first! It’s made me feel left out, defensive. But motherhood is not a race. We are all deserving. I have not been beaten just because someone else crossed the proverbial finish line first. We can all win. Some may be built to sprint, others build up the stamina for long distance… but we can all cross that finish line. Everyone can win.
The second thing I’m doing is probably the most powerful choice I could make. It’s turning it all over in prayer. For more than a year I have prayed for my infertile friends. I think of them often and pray over their hearts, their marriages, their future children. That came so naturally to me, so easily. I pray for them the way I pray for myself because I know their needs, what they are going through. Then several months ago I was reading some post about infertility that encouraged the idea of not closing yourself off to pregnant women. To open yourself up when you see them, to imagine yourself with a belly to match, to wish them well. Ever since then I have tried to change my reaction, my emotion, my way of thinking when I come into contact with pregnancy – whether it’s in person or online. Now, I stop to think rationally and let go of my shameful feelings. Then I say a prayer for her. For this beautiful woman creating a life. Just because she has something I have yet to receive doesn’t mean that I cannot pray for her, that my prayers somehow don’t count because I have not shared that experience. So, as I walk by her in the grocery store, I smile and silently lift up a prayer for her. As I scroll through social media, I double tap her bump and whisper a prayer. I even have a prayer list on my phone now! There are no less than TWENTY women in my life at this moment (or really any moment for the last year 😂) that are pregnant. I have each of their names written down in this note, and I open it each day to say a prayer for them… for their health, for peace as they enter this new period of life (whether its baby #1 or #5), for their marriages, for their precious child. Once that tiny miracle arrives I add their name and continue prayers for that new mama and baby.
Rinse and repeat.
Refocusing these emotions and choosing positivity has been a total game changer for me. We can change our response to hard things. But we have to learn how. And if you’re anything like me, it might take some time. I know it is not easy. Sometimes I don’t even want to try because I am too busy enjoying my pity party. But there is so much precious life to be lived even as we walk through the hard stuff… in fact, that’s really where life happens, huh? We simply cannot wait around for a day when everything is perfect to be happy because perfect isn’t coming. Life is messy and hard. But it’s so beautiful too. Especially if we open ourselves up to really live, to find the sunshine – even during the worst moments. I don’t want to live jealous of soon-to-be Mamas. I want to celebrate with them, to lift them up, and some day (hopefully soon!), to be to one of them.