There's a lady I "met" a few months ago in the grand blogosphere whose ordeal with infertility I've been following closely ever since. I just can't help myself. Not only is she an incredibly sweet, funny and likable person, and a great writer, her journey is one I can totally relate to, even if our situations are (well, were) completely different. I guess it's because she thinks a lot like I do, so I can relate to both her setbacks and her victories.
Yesterday, the aforementioned lady wrote a blog post about the things people say to those of us facing infertility (or any of its peripheral issues). She totally struck a chord with me when she talked about things people say that are well-intentioned, but terribly hurtful or difficult to hear. Read her post (and the rest of her blog!) HERE.
Not only do I agree with every word of her post - at least the parts that apply to our situation - I wanted to expound on it a bit based on my own experiences.
I remember back when I first found out I couldn't have kids. I've blogged about it before, so I won't re-hash it for very long, but one of the weirdest feelings is the one that comes when people feel sorry for you. On one hand, you appreciate that they care enough to feel that way for you. On the other hand, you just want to yell, "IT'S INFERTILITY, NOT A DEATH SENTENCE!"
True, the chances of my conceiving a child are about the same as the chances I'll win the Publisher's Clearing House Sweepstakes. But even without the $10 million, I think I'm living a pretty great life. Sure, a lot of that is the way I choose to deal with the hand I was dealt. But even without factoring that in, if infertility is the worst thing that happens to me, I think I'm doing pretty darn well.
Just like my friend up there, after a while, I realized that people just had no idea what to say. And who could blame them? It's not like I would've known what to say, either. So, they just said the only thing they thought might be helpful. Feeling bad for someone is caring about them, and I definitely needed that at the time. So I came to appreciate the comments and sympathetic looks.
And then we chose to adopt.
If I'd known then what I know now, I may have just kept that decision to myself (well, to our family) until a child was placed with us. It's not that I didn't want to scream it from the mountaintops; I did! I wanted nothing more than to tell everyone I knew about our plans. I just wish I had a nickel - heck, even a penny - for every time someone chuckled and lightheartedly said, "You know you'll get pregnant as soon as you adopt! Ha ha ha!"
Because apparently adoption is a magic cure for infertility that no one knows about except people who are super-fertile. You'd think this would have become apparent to the medical profession at some point... but alas, only super-fertiles know about it.
At first, I wanted to slap anyone who said that to me. What a ridiculous thing to say! How about, "that's great, I'm happy for you!" or "good luck on your new path!" or something? But to just laugh and insist that adopting a child will make us get pregnant when several years of trying and many thousands of dollars of infertility treatments haven't been able to accomplish that is not only absurd, it's just rude.
Thankfully, hubby always helps me temper my emotions when I want to slap people, so he helped me through it a lot. He constantly reminded me that people mean well and they just want the best for us.
Again, they just don't know what to say.
And again, who could blame them? I wouldn't either.
Soon, I began to reply to those comments, as politely as possible, with something like, "Well, my ovaries don't work. They never have. I'm not sure exactly how adoption is going to fix them, but if it does, then great!" Some people would nod and smile; others were taken aback by my brutal honesty and become visibly uncomfortable. Either way, inside, I was laughing. Feeling like I'd spoken my peace. And during a time when I felt like I had so little control over anything going on in my life, it was so gratifying.
And guess what? Aidan is 2-1/2 months old now.
And guess what else? My ovaries still don't work. The chances of me getting pregnant without serious medical intervention are still almost zero. So, who has the last laugh now?!
Well, no one does. And no one needs to. Because at the end of all that pain and struggle, in spite of all the idiotic comments and in spite of how I chose to handle them, I stumbled upon my dream come true. And all of that frustration is becoming a more distant memory all the time. But I had to process it all. And that's what my friend up there is going through. Just like I didn't need a fix, she doesn't need a fix, because there isn't one.
To her, I'm here to cry at or cry on.
To the rest of you (outside the infertility community), please be mindful of how you communicate with those around you. The woman at your office or the couple at church who have no kids? Please don't ask them what the heck they're waiting for. Please don't assume they are being selfish and choosing to wait, or not to have kids at all (yes, I heard this a time or two, even though it doesn't make sense). In fact, don't even ask them about it or make a comment. It doesn't need to be said and, frankly, it's none of your business.
Those people may be going through something heartbreaking - and deliberately keeping it to themselves. Because it's hard to explain it to people over and over again. Especially when the response is, so often, something idiotic.
To those who are conscientious of all of this, and choose to just be there for the people in your life who are struggling with this... thank you. On behalf of all of us, thank you. Your support means more than you will EVER realize.
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