A few weeks ago I had a phone conversation with a very dear friend. It had been over 7 months since we last spoke, and we had a lot to catch up on. I didn’t start out by talking about my husband and my experience with infertility, but the conversation migrated there at some point. I finally said that I was, “sick of being the girl who everyone pitied. For once I want to be the girl who everyone secretly wants to be.” I didn’t mean it in a conceited way, I was just craving empathy and not sympathy. I was tired of feeling like I let the air out of a room or conversation when I walked in; I’m tired of people avoiding me and the topics of my life.
Then this friend (so wise) asked me, “Do you want me to ask you about infertility? How do I approach it?”
It was one of the most uplifting questions any of my friends have asked me recently, and it really made me think… So I answered,
“First, I appreciate you asking, that in itself is such a gift. You know, this journey has been full of its ups and downs, but it’s like my life in that way. There are some days when it is going very well and other days when it is brutally painful. But it’s a part of my life and the journey that I’m on. And that’s the thing- it’s part of my daily life just like my job is, just like my dog is, just like my husband. So when friends avoid the subject, or act weird about me sharing it’s like that part of my life doesn’t exist, doesn’t value, and becomes detached from my overall experience. So yes, I’d love for you to ask about it, but please be ready and open to hear what’s going on, or for me to not want to share. But also- ask me about the rest of my beautiful, crazy life that continues to unravel each day. Because it’s these moments, these experiences that are making me who I am, as I become myself.”
The point is- Infertility is not THE journey- it’s just part of it. One day it will be over. We will have our family, and I will have developed a deeper sense of empathy and understanding for others who are going through this or have gone through this. Infertility has helped me get to know another layer of the person my Mother was- how she struggled for so long to have me. It taught me the deep pain that your hurting can bring to someone who loves you, and the struggles you endure in that process. Just as infertility is part of my journey so is homeownership, or training our dog, or learning how to be a good wife, or losing some weight. None of it is the central theme, it’s all wrapped together- like strings to make yarn. Without one piece of it, it would unravel; be incomplete.
So dearest friends and family- those who have borne many joys and tears with me- please travel this journey with me. I’m not asking for a detour, or a short cut, I’m just asking for companionship as I travel on my way.
With so much love,