I had two friends announce their pregnancy to me this weekend. Just in time for Christmas!
One friend was kind and compassionate, giving me a heads-up before we met, so that I would have time to react privately before offering in-person congratulations. This friend understands that each new pregnancy in those around me is like another small wound in my soul, though it takes nothing from me and offers so much joy to them. I appreciated this friend’s consideration. I want to be happy for people having children, and I am, really. I just have this struggle with infertility that I rarely talk to anyone and that no one around me seems to care about. Having a friend who is compassionate enough to recognize my sadness for what it is – sadness for ME, not jealousy or anger or lack of joy for THEM – makes it easier to rejoice with those who rejoice.
The other friend sprung the news on us while we were with a group of people. This friend talked about their 18-month struggle with infertility, and how it was nice knowing other people (very clearly not me) who had gone through it. This friend also knows I am infertile, but chose to ignore it during the announcement and conversation. A recognition, perhaps, that I have been dealing with infertility for four years now would at least allow my grief to be acknowledged while still letting me congratulate them on their pregnancy. I thought people who have dealt with infertility would have a better understanding on how to other infertiles now that they’ve finally achieved what we all hope for.
Instead, I think this friend dismissed my journey because I’m not doing IVF or IUI. Because I don’t think God is calling me to use those particular kinds of infertility medicine, it seems that most people jump to the conclusion that I don’t want kids, or that I’m not “really” infertile, because if I were, I’d “obviously” do IVF treatment. The logic, I think, is that infertility is a disease and one must “cure” it by pregnancy, using any means necessary.
It makes me feel that my religious, philosophical, and ethical meditations on infertility are a useless exercise. That I’m wrong to ‘deny’ myself the “treatment” of IVF. It’s a demeaning attitude, dismissing someone else’s choices simply because they aren’t YOUR choices. But even with my choices, infertility still hurts – infertility makes me feel like a complete failure as a woman – infertility makes me grieve – infertility triggers a major negative body-image – infertility kills dreams.
Please, if you get pregnant and tell someone whom you know is infertile, be compassionate. Let them know, acknowledge that what is a joyous occasion for you might be a hurtful one for them, and accept that. They’ll be happy for you; therefore you should be considerate of them.