Dear Blessed Mama,
I write this to you after years of fighting a battle that most people still suffer in silence. This is a battle that looks quite different for everyone, but I humbly will try to speak on behalf of my sisters who are still trapped in the shame closet. There is so much freedom to be gained by speaking and living our truth, and sometimes it just takes one person stepping out first to achieve that goal.
The battle I speak of is infertility. Some of us know why we cannot have children, while others suffer under the weight of the unexplained, or are still too scared to get help. Some of us have children, and some of us still wait with empty arms and silent hallways. Wherever we are in our journey, infertility is not our whole story, but it is definitely a chapter that has completely changed our lives.
Here is what I need you to know, because I value you enough to share things with you, even when it is hard…
- I really do care about you and your precious family, I just may not be in the head-space to be there for some big events, like baby showers or a child’s birthday party. If something is important to you, then feel free to invite me to share in that occasion. Please give me the freedom to say “No,” or to suggest an alternative like a private get-together instead. We will both need to give each other heaps of grace, instead of guilt.
- I want to celebrate with you when you have big news, but most likely I will prefer to find out in writing first. A simple text or email in private, before any public announcement, helps me so much. I want to share only my happiness with you, so giving me a heads up allows me to grieve my own loss in private, without the weight of other people watching my reaction.
- Questions, false hope, or quick suggestions can hurt me, even though I know you do not intend for that to be the case. Sometimes the silence in conversations is welcomed, it does not need to be filled with things like “Just relax” or “Why don’t you adopt instead?” I really just need listening ears, a hug, and probably some coffee or chocolate.
- I share my story as a way of healing and as a way of helping others. Please ask me before sharing my story on my behalf though, as I often prefer to tell it myself. Some details are saved for certain audiences, so I feel safer being my own editor when telling my infertility story.
- Any reminders of other areas of my life that are flourishing are welcome, as it helps me take my mind off of the barren place that often haunts me. Infertility treatments typically include a bunch of hormones, and those make me question my own thoughts and feelings on a regular basis. It really helps to hear that my thoughts or actions are still valued, as it sometimes feels like my former self is slipping away.
- I will likely never be a good audience for you to vent about your children or related negative situations. I want to give you my listening ears, but one ear will always know the deafening sound of silent bedrooms and hallways, and the other ear will always hear the cries of my sisters who are still in the wait. This does not mean I do not want to try and support you, I just do not know how to respond to you with sincerity in these situations.
- Lastly, I want to share in your season of Motherhood, I just do not know how. We likely have shared other seasons of our lives quite seamlessly, which makes navigating this one all the more frustrating. I sometimes feel like I should pull away, because being close with you often leads to me feeling sorry for myself. I am the forgotten toy that has been placed on a shelf, but it will only be when the dust finally settles, that I may realize I put myself there.
You are so important to me, and I am sorry that our paths have been separated during this season. I want to be part of the solution and be honest with you about my needs as they come up, it can just be very hard to label my feelings when they are so raw. Until then, please accept this letter as my way of showing you that you matter to me and our friendship matters to me.
Your Infertile Friend
To my Dearest Sisters still in the Wait,
This letter was written for you. Take all the safe space you need to process what you are going through. There will be those that easily understand and want to learn how to come along side you specifically – stick close to them. There will be those who do not know how to respond to you at all – educate them with grace. There will be those who use this season to hurt you, with probing questions or by spreading your story around without your permission – walk away. Your journey is not for everybody, and that is okay.
Even after having children, I sometimes find it difficult to navigate life when it comes to issues of fertility, big announcements, or the “venting-moms.” I have never regretted asking for help when I need it though, or creating boundaries to protect my heart. I still cannot talk about pregnancy in general that much, as mine ended very traumatically, and I still prefer to hear pregnancy announcements in private.
This is a marathon, not a sprint, so lean into the process and live your truth.
You can read more of my posts on infertility by clicking on the links below: