As church let out on that Sunday morning and the lobby began filling with people, I smiled across the room as another couple we knew began maneuvering toward us through the crowd. When they reached us, we exchanged hugs as the wife took my arm and pulled me to the side. “Did John tell you?” she asked, excitement and life and joy spilling out from behind her eyes.
glanced at my husband and watched as a wave of panic spread onto his face. I
don’t even remember the rest of what the woman said to me. I just remember
trying to look happy. I remember trying not to cry. I remember that
all-too-familiar lump growing in the back of my throat.
apologized on the way to the car for the oversight. He had gotten the
announcement through the husband. He had meant to tell me. He had forgotten. I
nodded. Being prepared for it would have helped. But it wouldn’t have changed
the fact that we were still childless - that five years of infertility
treatments had left us no closer to the children we always thought we would
have. That even though that couple were newlyweds, they were going to have a
And we weren’t.
During the years we spent begging,
yearning, praying, crying for a child, there were many moments like the one in
that church lobby. Moments where I felt my heart breaking when someone said
something that reminded me of the losses we had faced.
“I had so wished
we could have babysat each other’s children,” one friend said days before she
delivered. “Have you thought about adoption?” another asked as their three
children played by our feet. “I had a friend who drank this tea,” another woman
told me, tucking a piece of paper littered with a scary sounding concoction into
my jacket pocket. “Relaxing,” was the key for us, another friend whispered.
“Have you thought about taking a weekend away?”
well-intentioned words flowed easy off their tongues as they pierced my
heart. “You are so young.” “Just be patient.” “Maybe it isn’t meant to be.”
Or the husband who, after having a daughter through their first IUI told me, “I
so hope this happens for you because there is nothing better than being a
I would always manage a smile and a polite nod.
Sometimes even a few words of thanks would tumble out. But always, when I got
home and climbed under my blankets, the tears would come. I would grieve. I
But always, I would remind myself that these friends and
acquaintances, and yes, sometimes even strangers, were not trying to hurt me.
It was important that I reminded myself that their intentions were pure.
Sure, there was the occasional person who may not have had my best interest at
heart, but for the most part, people are good. They are trying. They don’t know
what to say. And so sometimes they say something they shouldn’t.
way of combating this ignorance was to educate people. I started a blog. I
told people our story. I wrote posts explaining what you should and shouldn’t
say to a woman dealing with infertility. I helped start a Support Group at our
church. I encouraged people walking alongside someone going through infertility
to use me as a sounding board. I realized that I couldn’t expect people to say
the right thing if they didn’t know what the right thing was to say.
you are in the midst of infertility, you have no doubt found yourself at the
receiving end of hard-to-hear words and missed-their-mark comments. I hope you
too will remember that people want to help. It is WE, the infertile, who have
to teach them how.