Our Infertility Journey: The Heart Stuff...
So now you know where we’re at with the technical side of this infertility journey, but what about the other side…the heart side? Hearts hold a lot so this post is going to be longer than I prefer. I hope you'll take a few minutes and stick with me...
I want to say this first because it is very important to remember as you read my words below - my thoughts & feelings are not, I repeat not, directed at any one person or comment made to me or others along this ride. It is extremely important to me that you know, if you feel like maybe you've made a comment that was received as hurtful, I really do understand that nothing said was done so with the intent to hurt. I do know you're coming from a place of love.
I am coming from that same place. By writing this I hope we can all be a little more gracious with each other and grow within the infertility conversation. The following are things I've experienced and how they've made me feel. I believe there are many more people out there feeling the same and I hope to be a voice for those who are further along in the process or too heartbroken to express the hurt themselves…
As I said in my previous post, infertility is something that isn’t talked about as often as it should be but is something so many couples struggle with. I couldn’t believe the response from people I know who have struggled or are struggling with it now! It has somehow become a shameful and uncomfortable topic on which people either give countless tips and suggestions without really thinking OR don’t talk to you about it at all for fear you’ll break into a thousand pieces. I think we need to bridge that gap because it isn't something we should have to feel, or be made to feel, shameful of.
Blair and I are early on in this journey, but the one word I think we can all look to when talking about infertility is GRACE. Every single person has a different story, a different circumstance, and a different way of handling it all. When encountering someone dealing with infertility, please don’t assume anything. When asking if someone has kids and they say, “Not yet!” or "We’re working on it!”, give them your heart. These are the phrases many of us use to move on to the next topic because most people when they ask aren't looking to hear, "Nope, we're actually struggling with infertility." I can't tell you what a turn in the conversation the question of kids can be. Our nonchalant answer feels like lying. It's filled with false enthusiasm when we really just want to say, "We're struggling" and not have to feel bad about burdening anyone else with our problems. What a day it would be if when asking that question, the goal was to get a real answer received with an open heart! If you receive one of these non-committal answers, try asking if they’d like to talk about it, and really listen if they do. Don’t push the conversation forward, but don’t toss it to the side either. Always always remember that everyone handles this in their own way. Be empathetic to the struggle but keep pity out of your eyes.
Blair and I have a pretty great relationship. We have our battles, of course, but 97% of the time we are very happy with each other and perfectly content in our life of two. We aren’t trying to have a baby because we feel like our relationship has a gaping hole that needs to be filled. We don’t need something else to fill our time. We’re not trying to fix anything between us. We are trying to have a baby because we want to grow our family, to experience each other as parents, and to share our love, life, and lessons with a little human. We are not freaking out about this process. I repeat, we are not freaking out about this process...yet. We are taking steps to try and figure out if there are any physical things preventing us from conceiving, but we are not beside ourselves with stress or obsessively obsessing over it so please, please, don’t advise me (or anyone else for that matter) to “just stop thinking about it."
I, like so many others along this journey, have heard countless times that if we “just stop thinking about it” or “just stop trying” we will automatically and magically get pregnant. Those two statements put me over the edge because people saying them don't have any idea of how I’m feeling about the whole thing. As I said, I am OK with where things are at. Am I excited that our journey has taken us down this path? No. Am I filled with hope each month and disappointed when there’s still no baby? Of course! BUT, I’m doing OK. I know there is nothing we’re doing “wrong”, that it isn’t an issue of fault, and that I am not any less of a person because this is taking longer than we thought. I have always been pretty easy going, but, you cannot honestly tell me that when you’re trying to have a baby you can “just stop thinking about it”.
We both know my cycle, that we’re trying to have a baby, and that there's a limited window of time in which that can happen. I mean, let’s be real - you’re thinking about it when you’re NOT trying to have a kid, so how can you not think about it at least a little when you are?! That statement feels, sometimes, like something people with kids say because in their minds they got pregnant immediately after they “just stopped thinking about it". Did you though? There is zero possibility of pregnancy not coming up in your brain at least once every time you’re having sex - zero. It might be a fleeting .0002 second subconscious thought, but it's still there. Please, just don’t say it…not to me, not to anyone, ever. Those you tell to “just stop trying”, are not going to stop trying to have a child. They may decide a biological birth is not in the cards and instead go down the road to bring an amazing already born child into their lives through adoption, but they are still trying to have a child. With the advice to “just stop trying” you are doing nothing but hurting hearts and ending a conversation because there really is no response we can give.
Most of us understand what is being said comes with good intention, but we have to remember to be mindful not just of our own intentions but of who is on the other end and how they're receiving it. I’ve gotten the “When are you guys having kids?” about 293,809,384,234 times, and that’s OK. For me, that question doesn’t hold any sort of hurt because I understand we're married, we’re getting a little older, and it's “time” for us to be having kids. Babies and growing families are really exciting things for people and they’re just trying to connect in a way they know how. For some people however, that question is a knife in their heart because despite trying everything in their power to have a baby it just isn't happening for them yet.
The question that hurts me the most revolves around our RV life. Blair and I love this life and work really well together in it. We are so thankful for the experiences and truly incredible things we’ve been able to see...and we're also trying to have a baby. We think there would be nothing better than bringing a baby on the road with us so we can share ourselves and our experiences with them. We understand each kid is completely different and you truly never know what you’re going to be handed. If the RV lifestyle doesn’t work with the baby we're given, we will be flexible in that. HOWEVER, when we tell people about our on-the-road lifestyle the first questions is always, “Do you have kids?” to which we respond, “Not yet!”
...and then comes the response that cuts me to the core...
9 times out of 10, we hear, “Welllllll theeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeennnnnnnnnnnnnnn!!!” (with a sigh of relief), like ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, NOW I understand why you can live this lifestyle! Because you don’t have kids! And if you did have kids you wouldn’t be doing it! But you are doing it, which must then mean you don't want them!!! *sigh* I try and come back with something like, “I actually follow lots of families on Instagram who travel with anywhere from 1-9 kids in an RV and are giving them lots of great life experiences!” But by that time they’re gone…checked out of the conversation because, not having kids = you can RV full-time and having kids = you can’t. Plain and simple. I would love if just one time someone expressed excitement about the possibility of us taking a kid on the road and asked if that’s what we’re hoping for.
Another thing I’ve experienced was while having dinner with some of our greatest friends. They all have babies and/or are/were pregnant so much of the conversation was heavily focused on kids. I didn’t have too much to contribute but could listen! When I got home I received a message from one of them sincerely apologizing for all the kid talk…it made me really sad because, to the deepest parts of my heart I LOVE hearing about the little ones in my friends lives. In the friendships I have my love runs deep; I’m not in it only for their friendship, but for the love of their families as well. Hearing about the bad sleep schedules, the barf, the poop, the boogers, all the smiles, giggles, first steps and first words only fills my heart with joy for the people I love most. When you have a kid they become a huge part of your life, and I want to know your lives. Every story, picture, or quick update helps me feel connected to and excited for you, and also hopeful for myself. I get so much joy from your littles and hearing all the crazy things they’re doing makes me love them even more. I hold no resentment that they’re in your life even though I don’t have one of my own yet - so please share, share, and share some more with me.
However, not everyone feels this way. Some people have a very hard time when the ever popular birth announcement hits their Facebook wall, or an invite for another baby shower comes in the mail. Their hearts are simply processing different. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t see a birth announcement and have the first word that comes to mind be “dang...” This has nothing to do with the fact that it’s happening for you! I am truly filled to the brim with excitement that your family is growing, but on a fully separate spectrum, it is a reminder that it isn’t for us. When you get pregnant, or your tiny one farts really loud, or says Mama before they say Da-da, be happy and excited and giggly and share it with me because that is what’s happening in your life and I want to be a part of it. Don't feel bad about these incredible moments, but also, ask me about me, about what’s going on in my life and really listen if I want to talk about it.
Because I’m feeling the way I do right now, doesn’t mean it won’t change. It also doesn’t mean that if your journey is effecting you in a different way that one of us is “better” than the other. I worry - I think about it - I get stressed about it - but I’m also good at reminding myself that it’s OK to worry about it. It IS OK to think about it. Life is a constant battle of ups and downs and just because I'm up most days, doesn’t mean there aren’t days when I panic…where I get really scared that this isn’t going to happen for us and what we’ll do if it doesn’t. Right now this isn’t something our hearts need to feel full, but it absolutely, positively, without any single doubt, is something our hearts want. We are ready (or as ready as you can ever really be) for all the puke, poop, and chaos those tiny humans bring into the world. We’re ready to be challenged. We’re ready to be completely clueless, overwhelmed, and exhausted beyond the point of exhaustion. We’re ready to teach, to grow, to love, and to influence a little life to bring good into the world whichever way they can.
Every time we pee on an ovulation stick and there's a line, or there isn't, or you can't even really tell, it takes something out of us. Every time we take a pregnancy test only to see...nothing...it takes something out of us. Our story is still early on in this process so I try not to let it get me down too much, but some days it does. I sit for a minute and let the sadness take me over, because it’s OK to be sad. It’s OK to be sitting on a toilet staring at a pee stick completely heartbroken. It’s OK to have an internal battle of wondering why does it happen so easily for some and is such a struggle for others. It’s OK to feel resentful towards those who don’t seem to want kids but have thousands, towards the ones who birth their precious tiny ones addicted to drugs, and towards those who bring babies into environments where they don’t stand a chance at any sort of life outside of drugs, crime, and struggle. It’s OK to feel like total shit, once a month, every month, until you get that sacred plus sign we’re all waiting for.
Ladies & Gents, my message today is to be sensitive, to show grace, and to hold in your heart that the message you send may not be the message received so reflect for a moment before you speak. Understand that people on the same journey may not follow the same path.
Most of all, be kind.