One of the biggest things that we struggle with during infertility is feeling alienated. We feel left out of the "baby mama" club. We feel lost and lonely. It is hard to know where we fit in...in a world where everyone we know is husband, wife and little ones.
To protect our hearts, we sometimes distance ourselves from the people we love...especially when they are pregnant and have new babies. Mostly because it hurts too much. Seeing their pregnant bellies and precious new babies is a constant reminder of our continued failure. Of our inability to conceive the one thing that we have dreamt about our entire lives.
It drudges up the hurt that we've felt over all of our years of infertility...the tears, the damage to our marriage, the pain of medical procedures and shots, all the failed cycles. We relive the disappointment and sadness of every negative pregnancy test. We think of all of the experiences of pregnancy and motherhood that we may never get to experience.
But our real friends, don't give up on us. They cut us some slack and they seek to understand rather than judge. They love us through our struggle and try to put themselves in our shoes. Even though they'll truly never understand how devastating infertility is without going through it themselves.
I'm very fortunate to have so many friends and loved ones that make the effort even though it is hard. I understand that people don't know what to say or how to make this better for me. Because no one can. It's a difficult thing for them and for me.
Sometimes when people get pregnant and you are still very much not pregnant...the dynamic of the friendship can change. They may feel it's easier to cut you off right there or it may happen slowly over time. Maybe when it's time to determine the guest list for their baby shower. Or it happens when they decide not to invite you to their kid's first birthday party.
They probably think you wouldn't attend their baby shower anyways. Or it would be too hard for you. Or you wouldn't want to come to a kid's birthday party when you're the only one who doesn't have kids. Well, if you are reading this and you have a friend who's struggling with infertility, I'm here to tell you something. Even though all of the statements above might be true, we'd still like the choice.
It is our battle to fight. And it's not just pregnancy and babies. I have a friend who's little boy is three years old and she just had her second child. Four years ago, we were trying to conceive together so our kids would be the same age. Every time I see her oldest, it reminds me that if I were as blessed as she has been...I'd have a toddler right now. Maybe even a second child.
And that will never change. If I remain childless, every benchmark her little boy experiences will be bittersweet for me. I'll think...if I weren't infertile, I'd have a little boy or girl going to kindergarten now or graduating high school. But then I will smile through my sadness and celebrate with her.
It is so important not to give your infertile friends even more of a reason to feel isolated. Our long journey to motherhood (which we may end in empty arms) is hard enough. Don't add to your friend's pain by cutting her out our your life. No doubt, she may not be able to come to your shower or kid's birthday party. But if you're really her friend, you'll let her make that decision.