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Sunday, March 17, 2013

isolation


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. 


52 comments:

Katie said...

wonderful advice. it should definitely be up to you if you want to attend those things. depending on the timing of different treatments/disappointments I skipped a few baby showers and hoped my friends would understand. but I would've been hurt to not be invited. A few times friends wouldn't tell me when they or someone else was pregnant because they didn't want to hurt my feelings, but that seemed to make it worse.

Aubrey said...

This is a great post, Jessah. Losing friendships and having friendships change due to infertility is SO hard. We are lucky if we have just a couple friends who try to understand and who give us the choice.

jAllen said...

Well said!

Amy Lynn said...

This is exactly the biggest thing I've been going through lately. My circle of friends all got pregnant together a few years ago, when I started trying too. Now they are all pregnant with their seconds, and I can't help but look at their little toddlers and wonder about the life I would have now if I'd been able to have one then. I would have a two year old by now.

I find that this go round, I have really distanced myself from a lot of my friends. One reason being that I find it hard to be around more than one of them at a time sometimes, and another being that I still want to do things that my freedom and childlessness allows! And they can't do those things. It does feel very isolating, and sometimes that's the hardest part!

I love reading your blog, because although my struggle isn't something I put on my blog, I like to feel that connection to others who are going through the same thing! Every time you post it's like you're reading my thoughts! :)

Charity said...

This is so true. I have experienced this with so many of my friendships, at first I distanced myself but now I love to celebrate all life and no longer feel bitterness. However just last year I referred a friend who was struggling to conceive to my doctor. Her problem was not complicated and after two treatments she became pregnant. She failed to announce the pregnancy to me and I heard it through facebook, she then also stopped communicating with me until I finally gave up. I moved away and she was worried so she contacted me and confessed that she felt bad that she got pregnant and I did not. Like you said she helped me to feel isolated when I only wanted to celebrate with her. Thanks for this post it was uplifting to hear.

Infertile625 said...

Exactly.

Cristy said...

An important and powerful post, Jessah. Too often, people assume that excluding people living with infertility or RPL from pregnancy or child-related events is kindness. In truth, it's actually further alienating someone who is living with a terrible and life-altering disease. Hence, as hard as it may be sometimes, it's important to communicate. To recognize that though one may not have caused the pain, how one treats a friend or loved one living with this disease can be a source of pain and cruelty.

I'm so sorry that you've had to go through this. I've been there too and it hurts so much, making me that something is wrong with me as a person even though I did not cause my infertility. Even now, it's something I struggle with as these same people want to be a part of my life as they consider me "cured." Needless to say, those conversations have been very hard ones, with so much pain and anger coming to the surface and a great deal of fear on both ends. All of it preventable, which is such a shame.

Ashley said...

This is beautifully written, honest and soo real!! It happens it all the time!!

lo @ crazy ever after said...

Great words, Jessah. And instead of writing all my thoughts about it in a comment I decided to write my own post about this very topic. That's how much I related. I linked what you wrote. I hope that's OK. :)

Suzanne @ Our Journey to a Baby Bump said...

It's like you're in my head. I understand this post on so many levels. xo

Anonymous said...

I know these heart breaking feeling all too well. I hope you and A find away to have a baby. I have low Oviarian reserve and were finally doing DEIVF with a gestational carrier - after several failed DE cycles. It's been a long path filled with tears , anger and anxiety but were finding our way and I hope the same for you!!

LWLH said...

Beautifully put.
I don't know how painful in can be for you but I agree that you should have the choice, don't make things more difficult.

Sara said...

I love this post! It is so passionate and heartfelt. I cannot imagine what you are going through with infertility as I am not trying to have kids until I'm married. Plus my future hubby lives on another continent currently. But I just want to say that you are so strong, even at your weak moments. I will keep you in my prayers on this entire subject.

Sara
http://sbengschayearoftransformation.blogspot.com/

Alicia said...

Jessah - hugs hugs hugs. Isolating is exactly what it is. Infertility is not for the faint of heart. You are so strong.

kharini said...

So true.

Erika said...

This is beautiful and resonates with me on 1,000 levels. Thanks for giving a glimpse into the less-glamorous parts of living with infertility. (I assume most people are enamored with and jealous of our never-ending doctors appointments and hormones and drama, right??)

Sarah said...

Well said. Infertility totally made my husband and I isolate ourselves A LOT. And there were some friends who understood and some who didn't. Some who still invited us to baby/kid things and some who didn't. It's a tough place to be for sure. I pray that this year will bring you that long awaited pregnancy that you so deserve! I wish could just wave a magic wand and make it happen for you. xo

Jess Bjokne said...

I love this post. I stumbled upon your blog through another one (teachmetobraid) and I read this post and it hits the nail on the head....I feel this way exactly and I've struggled with how to write on this topic myself. THANK YOU for this, I am so glad to know we are not alone in this journey to parenthood. Jess

www.homedaycareandme.wordpress.com

Chelley N said...

Great post. We tried for a little over 6 years for my daughter (our oldest). During that time, one of my best friends had TWO kids. When they became pregnant with their 2nd, they didn't tell me because they knew that it would potentially upset me. However, I ended up finding out through social media which was so, so much worse. Ugh. Just thinking about it makes my heart hurt. Thank you for writing this post.

Amber said...

Yes! To me, it might feel a little bittersweet going to a baby shower or birthday party, but I'd rather be a part of it. I've been blessed with kids in my life. They just happen to be other people's kids! I even wrote a post about this awhile back.

I thought of you today in church when they announced a missions trip to Mexico this summer. I reall wanted to sign up then and there! It's something I've always wanted to do, but I have prior commitments during that time with coaching softball. Maybe someday.

Jennifer said...

BIG hugs my friend. Another beautiful and heartfelt post. I'm so proud of you for sharing so much through this blog. We all gain from your honesty & I'm always grateful for your willingness to share. Sending you lots of love, as always.

JoJo said...

Couldn't say it any better

Emily said...

It's such a hard thing to deal with. Like you said, we may not want to go, but we would rather be the one to respectfully decline on our own, instead of feeling not only like an outcast, but also like we're unloved on top of it. Not being invited to things makes us feel uncared for and it just makes the already inherent isolation worse. Never in a million years could I have ever understood the range of emotions that comes with infertility if I hadn't gone through it. I try to remind myself that there is really no possible way for them to understand either if they haven't been through it themselves, but it is still just so hard.

Dream Chase said...

Well spoken! Word for word everything you said. I am holding back tears as this exactly what I feel inside.

Darcy Kristy said...

Wow. It continues to amaze me how much we have in common. Our posts and thoughts always seem to parallel one another. Although, I struggle with secondary IF, I could've written every SINGLE word of this, with just a couple of changes......

My heart goes out to you, Jessah. You and A WILL be amazing parents, someday... hopefully sooner rather than later. This struggle is oh so very hard! It's hard on all of our relationships, not just with our spouse. REAL friends and family WILL stick by our side, even though it can be very tough on them and us. Hugs, lady. You are so strong! xoxo

Whitney B. said...

I always enjoy your posts about infertility. You write the same words I think and feel so often. I have felt many relationships change over the past 2.5 years. One of my friends was pregnant when I was last year, I had a m/c and now she has a 4 month old... It's hard ESPECIALLY in the digital/social media age we live in. It's a thing now to post milestones daily on Facebook/Instagram. I have multiple friends say "today he/she is eating solid food" and the months keep adding up for each kid. I try very hard to avoid those sites as much as possible, even though I love my friends dearly.

ksirahsirah said...

Enjoyed reading this and boy did it hit home. Just this past weekend, my hubby and I were not invited to a friends' child's first birthday party. It's about making our own choices, instead of having them be made for us resulting in feelings of being slighted and isolated. It hurts either way, but empowers us to make the choice.. Thanks for speaking to this topic.

Betty said...

Thank you so much for writing this post!! This is exactly how I have been feeling the past few months. I suffered a miscarriage in January 2012 and since then have been struggling to get pregnant. While there is a bit of a sting when I hear that my friends are pregnant, it has started to hurt more when I find out that they are scared to tell me, or begin the conversation with "so I don't want to hurt your feelings, but...". So anyways, thanks for putting into words everything I've been feeling lately!

Always Maylee said...

Such a powerful post. I can feel your struggle and pain through your words.

xo, Yi-chia

Jamie Sefcik || Hello Little Scout said...

Loved this post. My husband and I strugged to get pregnant and I know how hard it is to deal with.

RitaMarie said...

Thank you for the honest post. My husband and I are in a similar situation and it's a hard road for sure. Every negative pregnancy test is just a reminder that my body didn't do what it should be able to, what it was created to do. My husband understands that and he is supportive, but he's a little younger and sometimes he doesn't understand the urgency. Thank you for putting the words to the feeling.

Bethany Lee said...

This is such a great post! You put my feelings into words, and I am grateful for that! <3

jenn s said...

I'm so glad you have the courage to share your feelings Jess. I guess I never feel the need to isolate you or protect you from any hurt because I know you will be there someday. Its been a long journey, Im so sorry for your pain. xoxo.

b.b. of :: something glorious blog :: said...

you seriously capture the feelings and emotions i've been through so much better than i could ever express it myself. thanks for having the courage to write about these things, i think it's so important that you're communicating "the infertile" message and being such an advocate for all of us who've been through this!

b.b. of :: something glorious blog :: said...

thanks for continuing to write about these difficult feelings + emotions that us infertiles struggle through during this journey... you seriously communicate it so much better than i ever could!

i swear i could do so many "what she said" blog posts... thanks for continuing to be a voice for all the infertile ladies out there!

Laura said...

This explains so well how I feel a lot of the time. I plan on sending a few of my closest friends to this post, I think it might help them understand. You have said so many things that I am trying to say, but words always seem to fail me.

Great post, I loved it!

:)

Samantha (at) Life Style Love said...

i just found your blog - your post was so honest and true. i do not have kids and my husband and i have not started trying yet but i enjoyed reading your thoughts. i think you're really great just to be able to put your thoughts into words and share them with others. you'll be in my thoughts and prayers :)

Jennifer said...

I love your willingness to be honest and open with your experience. Everyone benefits from your blog - some find their voice in yours, others learn how to have empathy for those in their lives affected by infertility. You really are making a difference. Love this post, but that shouldn't surprise you! Big hugs friend...

A Place to be Me said...

You really have a way of striking the chords that so many of us have felt. Well said!

Angela said...

I hope this is just a post to let people know, and that is hasn't happened to you, but from my own personal experience, I have a feeling it has.

A lot of our "friends" who fell away are suddenly interested in our lives now that we've adopted. It's one of those things where I would like to say "thanks, but no thanks" but it's difficult.

I truly think that as much as this sucks, we're better people for experiencing it. I'm sorry if that is something that you're tired of hearing, but I still think it's true.

You're tough and you're smart enough to see what is happening around you. Keep your head up (if you want, not telling you what to do.) :)

alesha said...

Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing something so personal.

Laura Rahel said...

Once again, you're wonderful choice of words perfectly reflects what I feel in this situation. Much love darling. Best of luck on your mission trip!

Em said...

This is a really important post, one that I'm sure a lot of infertile women would love their friends to read. I really isolated myself after my first pregnancy loss and those years of trying to conceive. Since then, some of those friendships have healed, some are even better than before, and some were never rekindled. It's a really tough thing, but sometimes we really do need to have boundaries to protect our hearts. Thanks for this post.

Heather S. @ I Should B ... said...

I couldn't agree more! All our friends have kids and they invite each other to their kid themed events but not us. I mean geez just a few months ago we were there to help you paint your child's room but we don't warrant an invite to their first birthday? Only free labor?
Sorry clearly it is an ongoing thing in our friend circle.
Thank God for the family that understands an includes us in those events.

Good luck and baby dust!

ICLW #2

Amanda @ Eloquent English said...

That is really wonderful advice and well written. Such a tough situation / topic to discuss as well...

xxoo
A-
Latest Post: $40 Ella Lane Boutique Giveaway

Isabel said...

This post it's so spot on. The isolation has been a big part of my infertility journey. Sometimes the isolation has come from friends or family members. Other times I've isolated myself in order to maintain the little sanity and composure that's left. Thank you for speaking about this!

Christine Brown said...

You have hit the nail on the head exactly here! I know every one of those pains, heartaches and tears. We've been trying almost 5 years. Our best friends just got married and got pregnant on their honeymoon. When they came over and told us I cried. I felt so bad but I had absolutely no control. We've talked about it and she understands thankfully. My sister is pregnant for the 2nds time since we've started trying. I've lost friendships due to this. Praying for all you future mamas out there!

Sarah said...

Love, love LOOOOOOOOOOVVVVVE this Jessah. So well put.

Sarah said...

Thank you so much for your post! I've been feeling isolated because of infertility for 5 years now. It's been hard to watch most of my friendships disappear because I don't have any children like the rest of them. It was hard to discover that I'm always on the outside looking in. Not being invited to anything by friends and family because we don't have children still hurts even though it's been going on for a while now. Like you mentioned in your post, I may not be able to attend birthday parties or baby showers because it's still too painful for me but I'd at least like to be invited so I can make that choice on my own. Thanks again for your post. I'm glad I found your blog. It's nice to know I'm not alone! :-)

the misfit said...

I'm coming here by way of a few other posts, so please forgive a stranger barging in!

I've actually appreciated NOT being invited to baby showers, baptisms, and birthdays. I loathed the obligation to have to respond, "No." Probably many of these invitations were made with the exact intentions you cite - to give me a choice, make me feel wanted - but I read getting an invitation just like everyone else's as a cattle call to celebrate someone else's blessings - a someone else to whom my (very obvious) privation was totally invisible. Now, once in a while, I've gotten a special note - "I sent you an invitation to ____ BUT I want you to understand that I can't imagine wanting to attend if I were you, I will not be hurt if you don't want to come, and I hope my invitation didn't make your burdens more difficult to carry." Well, that I can accept. They can't make my difficulties or their celebrations go away, now, can they? So the sting will be there. But they can ACKNOWLEDGE it. That's friendship, I say.

I don't even mind when I slowly vanish out of someone's life as every single one of that person's social engagements becomes a play-date with other parents who have kids the same age. What I'd really like is a signed, written acknowledgment that says: "You were right. When you said that we wouldn't be friends any more after I had kids, you were right. When you said that I wouldn't have any time in my life for you, you were right. When you said that I was about to join the all-play-dates-all-the-time circle, when you said that I would soon spend all my time with the people by whom I felt shut out, but you would become entirely shut out, you were right. When you said that we were so close only because we all had the same schedule, because we didn't have kids, you were right. And you weren't mean when you said it, you just wanted everyone to admit it, because you thought it was insulting to pretend to be best buddies when it wasn't true, and it was wrong of me to say you were wrong and you were bitter and mean and petty to suggest that, because every word you said came true, not because you were bitter, but because you were being honest, and I was refusing to be honest, and YOU WERE RIGHT."

It's not like I'm losing my bestest friends; those weren't friends anyway. I'd just like that acknowledged!

Sadie said...

Jessah, I don't know how I missed this when you first published it, but - better late than never? - I just want to say you're SO spot on. That pulling away of people who used to be an important part of our lives is something we've all struggled with, and for me at least, it led me to a lot of self-questioning about what was wrong with ME, (as I was the common denominator in all those relationships). Only belatedly have I come to accept that most people will just hide from what is not comfortable for THEM. That knowledge doesn't make it any less hurtful though (however much misguided 'kindness' may have been behind the behaviour in the first place). I wish that this could be sent to all our friends and loved ones! Thanks for sharing.

gayle t. said...

Thank you for your honesty. Thought I struggle with a different issue than you do, this still speaks to my circumstances, too. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. And, thank you for telling us what it's like, truly, to be in your shoes. It's important not to assume you know how people feel or what they need, but to be compassionate and understanding. God is blessing you through each step you take in faith, especially when it's walking with Him in joy even through disappointment.

xoxo,
Gayle | Grace for Gayle

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