Tuesday, November 6, 2012

It's Not Just Me

So, I promise after this post that I'll just start writing in a journal, because this is supposed to be the Hamilton Times, not Rachael's Rants and Ramblings. 

I came across a post on a friend's blog today that really impacted me because it was so straight forward and honest.  She said, "Some people really don't get it. I'm seriously convinced that there are those who think everyone wants to hear about their pregnancy, or their sister's baby or how wonderful parenthood is... I'm here to let you know not everyone is strong enough to hear anything dealing with children."  Although, I don't have the exact same sentiment, I can sympathize.  Attending church on Sunday and sitting through an hour long lesson on Motherhood had me really bugged.  I felt like the only people who were being taught were the ones with children.  There was the occasional side note of, "For those single sisters who do not have children, they have the opportunity to be nurturers to nieces, nephews, and neighbors."  What about the non-single sisters who do not or cannot have children?   That was the question I was thinking of non-stop, rather than opening my heart to the spirit of the message.  I had this bitter and angry feeling after leaving Relief Society and it stuck with me until this morning when I read my friend's post.

After reading her statement I realized that people do not realize how difficult it is to be dealing with infertility.  They just don't understand because they have never experienced it.  They don't know what to say or do and because the person struggling with infertility is so emotionally vulnerable it just ends up hurting.  So, here's an awesome link and a few of my favorite portions of the Infertility Etiquette Guide from Resolve, the National Infertility Association.  I've shared this with my family before, but figure, anyone can learn something from reading it.  Here are the sections that are most meaningful to me.

"Infertility is, indeed, a very painful struggle. The pain is similar to the grief over losing a loved one, but it is unique because it is a recurring grief. When a loved one dies, he isn't coming back. There is no hope that he will come back from the dead. You must work through the stages of grief, accept that you will never see this person again, and move on with your life. 

The grief of infertility is not so cut and dry. Infertile people grieve the loss of the baby that they may never know. They grieve the loss of that baby who would have had mommy's nose and daddy's eyes. But, each month, there is the hope that maybe that baby will be conceived after all. No matter how hard they try to prepare themselves for bad news, they still hope that this month will be different. Then, the bad news comes again, and the grief washes over the infertile couple anew. This process happens month after month, year after year. It is like having a deep cut that keeps getting opened right when it starts to heal."

I appreciate this section because it validates the fact that it is an actual grief that I feel every month and that I am not alone in getting my hopes up every month and being let down every time as well.  I am not trying to invalidate the pain of people who have lost loved ones, I just appreciate that this shows that they are both forms of grief.

"Don't Minimize the Problem

Comments like, "Just enjoy being able to sleep late . . . .travel . . etc.," do not offer comfort. Instead, these comments make infertile people feel like you are minimizing their pain. You wouldn't tell somebody whose parent just died to be thankful that he no longer has to buy Father's Day or Mother's Day cards. Losing that one obligation doesn't even begin to compensate for the incredible loss of losing a parent. In the same vein, being able to sleep late or travel does not provide comfort to somebody who desperately wants a child."

I like this section because I think this is the most common gut reaction that people have when they find out that we are struggling with infertility.  They act like it's no big deal.  This one and relax have to be the most irritating to me.

"Don't Complain About Your Pregnancy
This message is for pregnant women-Just being around you is painful for your infertile friends. Seeing your belly grow is a constant reminder of what your infertile friend cannot have. Unless an infertile women plans to spend her life in a cave, she has to find a way to interact with pregnant women. However, there are things you can do as her friend to make it easier.
The number one rule is DON'T COMPLAIN ABOUT YOUR PREGNANCY. I understand from my friends that, when you are pregnant, your hormones are going crazy and you experience a lot of discomfort, such as queasiness, stretch marks, and fatigue. You have every right to vent about the discomforts to any one else in your life, but don't put your infertile friend in the position of comforting you."

 I don't always agree with this one, because I do have a lot of pregnant friends and I can interact with them just fine most days.  It's just like my friend's post though, if I'm not up to talking about your pregnancy or your sister's cousin's baby, then let me leave the conversation and do not be offended.  Some days I am just not strong enough to handle your hormones and mine. Post all you want on facebook and your blog, because I can choose not to read it, but don't force me to be a part of a conversation that I just don't feel up to having.

So, there is the end of Rachael's Rants and Ramblings.  I hope that this was somewhat educational, if not an education on how I'm feeling and what I'm thinking, then an education in infertility.  It's a real issue.  7.3 Million people in the United States struggle with it and if more people were willing to talk about it and be open about it, then maybe less people would deal with this grief on their own.  I'm glad to have such supportive friends and family who help share these feelings and make me feel less alone.